The new Oubliette campaign continues! This every other week short session thing is working out; the sessions are, well, short, but that is as much a feature as a bug, you know? You'll note that I don't have as many pretty pictures as the last campaign; I didn't want to become over reliant on props, so I decided to go back to a more Old School ethos of, uh, pure imagination. Or at least to use handouts a little more sparingly. I also think I'm going to be a little more Old School about harming & killing PCs...well, maybe once they aren't children any more. Nicole & Mollie & I left work & met up with Luke in Brooklyn, joined shortly thereafter by Silissa & Eric. So that is three sessions of perfect attendance, with three sessions evenly spaced every other week, which gives me high hopes for the crew's coherence!
Last session was the establishing shot, & once we'd talked a little bit about Experience Points & how Character Traits are supposed to work, we set to the recapping. It was a whirlwind of (drunken) activity at the end of the session, but we nailed it all down-- they had just crossed the threshold of the Haunted Castle & played dice with Goro, the swaggering loudmouth, & a few of his cronies. We started there, with the group of teenagers passing a gourd full of Shochu back & forth, while Nicole's character Keku & Eric's character Ren spied on them from an adjacent room. Next, the kids played Kagome Kagome, a Japanese folk game, & so we players played it! The problem with playing other culture's folk games is...well, you don't really know how to do it, but I think we created a reasonable facsimile!
Sort of a cross between Tag, Duck Duck Goose & Heads Up Seven Up. One player sits with their eyes closed as the other circle around them singing Kagome kagome, the bird in the cage, when, oh when will it come out, in the night of dawn, the snake & the monkey slipped, who is it in front of behind! The other players can give little "hints," I figure-- sort of add in an element of flirting, or bullying, or status maneuvering, right? So Haru put a bag of mon (actually my laundry quarters) on Silissa's character Moe's head (& on Silissa's head!) but she guessed wrong. Haru was next, & thought their Geiko guide, Wakana (being stunt-played by Nicole) blew on his neck, he guessed wrong as well. Oh well! No one guessed the oni! Wakana was just getting ready to break out the Hanetsuki paddles & was explaining about ink marks on the face when things started getting...interesting.
You see, while Haru & Moe had been playing their games, strange things have been afoot in the other room where Ren & Keku have been hiding-- strange things that Mollie's character Mio & her trusty pet wolf Tokka see when they come back from a bathroom break outside the haunted castle! Moe has been feeling & hearing things, Ren has been seeing things-- something anaconda like slithering across the walls. To Mio, it seems like the walls are crawling with huge writhing tentacles; eventually, this gets to be too much for Keku, whose pet snake has absconded, nowhere to be found: she screams, just as Haru is sort of going out from the main chamber-- which would have been subdivided with rice paper screens, if it wasn't a ruin-- to drug the shochu! See, he & the others thing that Goro (& maybe Wakana, their guide) are pranking them, & Moe, the herbalist, admits to trying to put some sort of truth serum in Haru's water...something they then swap out & give to Goro.
Everything, at this points, starts going sideways, in the best way. Drugged Goro, rather than having anything to admit, just starts freaking out. He heard the scream, assumed it was Haru, teases him but then...realizes it wasn't. Holy crap, he's in a haunted castle. He & his cohort want to bolt, they try to bolt, but Haru gets his samurai command voice on; stop! They freeze, but clearly don't know anything-- they use the ruins the way high school kids used abandon building or caves, as a place to drink & be rowdy. This is something else! Indeed it is; Keku, Ren & Mio see the giant snake is even bigger than an anaconda, patterned with scales that look like a flaming eye...& it has a head at each end. & it is curious, the way a shark is curious-- which is to say, it figures things out with its mouth, by biting & tasting. Events are escalating; Keku has Haru's wakizashi, hidden away, & she pulls it out.
Ren baps the thing on the head with a club & it lashes out & kisses his face with its tongue. The mark it leaves is acid, agony, dissolving his flesh, burning his nose off, boiling his out out of his head, slashing across his lips. Eric steps outside for a cigarette & I tell the rest of the group that it hasn't really disintegrated his face but that it has boiled up, like a third degree burn, like someone suffering from anaphylactic shock. Moe, having used some opium from her herbalist kit to calm one of the snake's heads, makes a poultice to try to bring the swelling down; she does a wonderful job mixing it up. The rest of the group is maneuvering tactically-- the house rule I have lets someone use their action to pull someone else along with them, essentially giving another character a fresh move action really helps initiative order look more sensible-- trying to stay away. Haru has gotten his sword & is lashing out with it, but he's a lover, not a fighter.
Wakana's scream from the other room gets their attention. Eventually, they all manage to successfully retreat from the massive snake-creature; they call it "a god-snake" & I have them make some occult rolls before saying "yeah, there is a word for that & the word is Naga." Keku-- who worships the snake goddess Nagini-- finds that her pet snake has returned & it...whispers in her ear? That "they've taken her to the shrine below." In the next room, a couple of successful Investigation rolls reveals...furrows in the ground. As if from someone dragged, digging their fingers into the dust & cobblestones, leaving bloody streaks as they are torn...through a door way that a successful lockpicking (by Keku, helped by the spare lockpick that Ren finds nearby) opens to reveals descends down.
From there, the party descends...after some tense negotiation. Haru wants to seek adult authorities, but the "thuds!" from the way Goro & his friends ran, plus a feeling of responsibility for Wakana, forces the group to descend. Moe has a jar of fireflies that they use to light the way, as they decide not to grab a torch in favor of stealth. I impress on them that a jar of lightning bugs is really just a jar of lightning bugs & not a video game light source, & they agree & descend. Stairs down-- slow going in the flicker-- & then a wide round spiral staircase further down. The strange clicking noises aside, the offshoot hallway is pretty clearly a dungeon, as in, a prison. The group finds a secret door, where they find an entire fingernail, torn from the bed, where Wakana was dragged through. Haru recognizes it as a sort of feudal bombshelter, a panic room for the castle. Opening the door it is pitch black; the group argues for a while about whether to descend, to go back up & grab a torch, or to go into the dungeon where they saw a faint source of light. Haru decides-- the dungeon!-- & charges ahead...only to find that the rattle they'd heard was human skeletons, limps wrapped with snakes, ribcages full of serpents, staggering out of the cells...