[Dread First Book of Pandemonium] The Good, the Bad & the Disciple

edited January 2008 in Actual Play
((As english is not my first language, I apologize for any spelling/grammar errors you may encounter))

After all what is Dread FBP about ? A warrior, a sage and a sorcerer working together to kick demon's ass. After reading the game I couldn't help but thinking of scenarios taking place in different eras.

Each time there is a war, the screams of the dead crack the fabric of reality and let demons slip in. The death toll of the American Civil War was more than enough to let a lot of demons come in.

So here's the Old West version of Dread : the Good, the Bad & the Disciple.

The Demon
A Daemuil (a demon descending upon the body of unavenged female victims and then hunting any person who might have offended the victim).

Most of a Dread scenario resolves around the Demon. Their description goes a long way in helping the GM build a story around them. I soon had an order of warriors working for the Demon (the Jaguars), Civil War veterans trying to forget the war, living in a forgotten army outpost, kidnapped children and husbands...So kudos to Rafael for making my life as a GM easier. This reminds me of Whispering Vault's Unbiddens. The story is not built around the PCs but their nemesis. The Demon is the story.

The PCs
The players immediatly loved the fact that their character had given up on life before he became a disciple. I remember I had some difficulty with Whispering Vault, most players found hard to picture an immortal character whose quest for knowledge led him to fight in an eternal war. But here, picturing a poor sob coming back with a vengeance was very easy for everyone.
Maybe this hasn't anything to do with either game and I just play with depressed people. Anyway most of the game mood was set during character creation for my players.

"Pirate" : an ex-confederate sergeant who lost a leg during the battle of Gettysburg (now walking with a wooden peg)
"Chink" : a chinese railworker with a shady past
"Pimento" : An ex-mexican soldier who drank too much

The Plot
The demon took the body of a mummified Aztec priestess of Tezcatlipoca who was raped and murdered by conquistadors more than three centuries ago. He then started to search for the descendants of these conquistadors, killing them one by one.

The players arrive when the Demon has made his troops kidnapp all the males inhabitants of a mexican village.

They first think a band of outlaws may be responsible, but after a combat with them they find about the involvement of the Jaguar warriors. It doesn't take long for them to find an hidden Aztec city, fight Jaguar warriors and sent the demon back to hell.

The Death Spiral : having the locations, battlefield, characters, hostiles, objectives... all clearly written on one sheet of paper may not look like much but it's a very useful tool. Far more effective than a pile of notes as far as I'm concerned. I will definitely use this with other RPGs.

Rules
Playing the game was a breeze. The rules give a solid basis but have much room for interpretation (Can I use Cockpunch with a spell ? Well, yes, why not ? When the Demon turns to mist, can I still hurt him ? Let's see... yes but with spells only). I see this as one of the strength of the game rather than as a liability.

It took a little time for the players to grasp the concept of Fury points. I had to remind them often to use them. Having the fury uses listed on the character sheet was a huge help though.

The Demon in this scenario was a hunter type (combat oriented) but he still wasn't much of a match for the PCs. Only his huge amount of Life points allowed him to last some rounds. But I guess this is my fault as I thought of the hunter demon as a huge powerhouse standing his ground rather than a cunning predator. So instead of a showdown on the top of an aztec pyramid I should have done an Alien-like chase inside it.

Issues
The Investigative type felt he got the short end of the stick. Combat type have fun handing their butts to everyone, the Sorcerer type is a spell powerhouse. The Investigator... well. He helps find and understand the demon's pattern. That's not bad, but it just boils down to the player being spoon-fed info by the GM. I'll think of a more creative way for the player to use this discipline.

Conclusion
Since PCs are Disciples whose job is to hunt demons, introducing the game to my players was a breeze.

The session was fun for everyone, but I made some mistakes which I think limited our enjoyment of the game. The next session should be the right one. I will use the same scenario with a different group or another scenario in another era (Shadow Crusade : hunting demons in Jerusalem in 1138 or Thin Dark Line : Dirty Dozen meets Dread).

Anyway, Dread FBP is now my pick-up game of choice. The theme and mood of the game are very easy to grasp. The rules are clear, well written and easy to "teach" to new players.

Comments

  • edited January 2008
    Hi, Kobayashi,

    Wow, what an amazing write-up!

    First, thanks for the kind words about Dread. I'm glad you had fun playing it. Here are some notes based on your questions/feedback:

    The Demon

    Typically, a demon will wait until the players have been worn down by fighting ordinary humans, then attack. It sounds like that's what happened, but maybe the characters took the Jaguar warriors down too easily? Next time, you might increase the number, or the lethality of their weapons. In my games, the characters usually fight a few different groups of enemies before the takedown -- first, they get into a gunfight with some Yakuza assassins, then they brawl with some thugs in an alley, and just as they're starting the shootout with the crooked police officers, the demon attacks.

    As for the Daemuil's strategy, did you find Wrath to be effective? When I run the game, I find that by killing four or five points of Wrath, along with a regular attack (at Strength 8), I can cause some major damage to one of the characters, which can really ratchet up the tension right off the bad. Next time, you might try a really brutal first strike against the group's magic-user or investigator.

    The Investigator

    The cool thing about the investigator is, when the player's don't know what they're up against, or where it is, they usually have to deal with a bunch of ordinary people. The Investigator has the massive barrage of skills that allow him to investigate tissue samples, study crime scenes, interrogate/intimidate witnesses, break and enter, hack computers, and so on. While other characters might have 2, 4, or 6 points of skills, the investigator has 10 or 12, making him an expert in at least one field. This means that the investigator dominates the first half of the scenario -- when there's no combat, and when it's important to limit spell use because A) you don't know how crazy things are going to get, and B) you don't want to attract too much attention. Also, it's likely that the investigator has a 3 in either combat or sorcery, meaning that he's able to contribute in some way to the takedown process.
    Posted By: KobayashiShadow Crusade: hunting demons in Jerusalem in 1138 or Thin Dark Line: Dirty Dozen meets Dread).
    Holy shit. That sounds completely awesome. I can't wait to hear about it. :)

    -- Rafael
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