Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Papercut2

[Needed] Ideas for fleshing out a Ritual Moritat Trial

Recommended Posts

Greetings, fellow GMs!

First of all I apologize in advance for all grammar and spelling errors, as English is not my native language.

I started a DH Campaign about half a year ago (though due to life's general lack of weekends we only have finished the introductory chapter), and so far my players assure me I'd be a great GM concerning NPCs, drama, immersion and general atmosphere (and hell, I have loads of fun doing it, too).
HOWEVER I simply know that my ability to find story-ideas and my affinity towards the more mechanical part of a scenario (i.e. the numbers) is definitly below average and I'm struggling to find my plot every time I start a new chapter or new round.
Also after reading many a post here, I know there a lot of GMs scurrying about in this forum that are literally busting with ideas (ah, how I envy you!), aaaaand so I imagined, maybe one or another of you might care to help me out of my misery now and then…

What's the situation
Currently I'm trying to work out a short introduction to the next chapter of the campaign for each of the PCs, to get them into the mood after our long pause, and as an opportunity to have each player do something that I know they like to play and that's taylor-made for their characters.

Our Moritates
In case of my Scintillian-Noble-On-The-Run Moritat-Assassin Malcolm that would be the first one of three sacred trials that are called "The Ordeal of Head, Hand and Heart".
Malcom's player and I pictured the moritat (or at least Malcolm's cell, wich is everything he knows) to be a bit Zen-like, all about self-control, renunciation and sacrificing one's ego and all of its feelings to the Emperor by means of meditation, ritual pain and one hell of a combat training. So our Moritats are an emotionally cold lot, carrying all this hatred, bitterness and whatnot the Inquisitor's Handbook describes as inherent to the Moritat's members safely hidden under the surface, distilled, refined and focused, as a source of power to tap. We imagined this cell of nascent assassins and their master to live in greatest possible simplicity in the middle hives of Sibellus, at the lower end of the social scale, as this would give them a good training ground and sufficient privacy.
After the First Trial Malcolm will be allowed to leave his master and operate independently from the cult at his Inquisitor's behest, while I plan to use the other two throughout the campaign as either plothooks or again chapter-introductions for Malcolm.

The First Trial (outline)
The First Trial is supposed to get one message across: Know your limits. Know yourself.
To this end, after days fasting, praying and the usual stuff to clean one's body and mind, Master Kenan will have Malcolm sacrifice a small, colorful bird and drink a portion of its blood. The bird is a Perreya from Dusk, and it's picked for its allegoric qualities: it looks harmless and beautiful and it sings a beguiling song, yet it is deadly poisonous – like many a foe of the Imperium it is at the same time alluring and devastating. The Perreya's toxin is a strong hallucinogen, but it takes its time to affect and in the end kill the intoxicated person.
My idea of the Trial is to let Malcolm advance from point A to point B where the antidote awaits, therby testing all of his primary assassin skills like climbing, sneaking, effective killing with only one silent blow etc. He has only a limited amount of time (the magical "one hour" maybe) before he succumbs to the poison, and he will have to pick the smartest way, as every unnecessary effort will quicken his circulation and thus accelerate the lethal effect. The idea here is the "know your limits" part - to teach the assassin the necessity of focusing all energies on the target, of not letting oneself be distracted, and of knowing how to plan out one's strength.
Gradually, he will be weakend and start to hallucinate, although naturally both Malcolm and his player don't know these things aren't real. I imagine having him stumble through his own haunted past under the toxin's influence and at the end, hanging to life by a thread, battle an image of himself for the antidote. The idea here is "know yourself" – that the greatest enemy might be oneself, on the inside.
The player has made an effort writing a cool prelude for Malcolm, and I know he would love me to seize the doubts and conflicts he built into the character.

 

What do I need?
Now I'm having trouble fleshing some bits out and humbly ask for your ideas.

1. Where could this "parcours" be located, and what could it look like? I'd like to avoid to have it overly artificial, but I'd like it to have an urban feel to it, as this is on of the focus points of the character. I had this idea of an abandoned hive district that the order recovered and now uses as a trial ground, kind of a gigantic cave filled with rabble and the ruins of a once thriving community. In the center there could be the torn down walls of the once dominating company (bit like the Tantalus Combine in EoD), wich then could turn to the Dunkeld Family Estate to Malcolm's drugged mind. But somehow I am not entirely happy with this, mainly because it also feels pretty dead (which in itself is a bit inappropriate for a hive), and the assassins skill should also include moving unseen between living people.

2. What obstacles could there be between the starting point and the end point of the trial? There I really hit a wall… Okay, if I use the abandoned hive district maybe he would be required to climb down to the ruins first, then pick his way between them, but I also want him to avoid some fights and to quickly carry out others as a logical decision, and I the hell cannot figure out how to do this, nor what enemies could possibly be met along the way.

3. How do I press the "quickening your pulse brings death swiftly" into rules? I find crunching numbers particularly difficult. Of course, I could simply fake it and have Malcolm reach the end of the trial in a condition suiting the narrative, no matter what he did along the way, but I know that my players sometimes cherish their dicerolls and their outcome in game terms, and seriously, if I'd only tell them what happens, what point is there in roleplaying? I want him to succed, naturally, but maybe at the expense of a fatepoint. Or such. At least I don't want the player to take survival for granted (though maybe it is ;-)).

I'd greatly appreciate any hints, ideas and comments on this, and I thank all who have read through this rather long post!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi!

first and foremost, I love the idea of your little Dusk bird. Consider it "stolen", as I will use it as "give-away" that one some npc is involved into a Dusk-Beastmuggling opperation.

Back2Question:
Instead of a hive district, how about a hydrponic/plant dome? One of the more mighty members/sponsors of the cult could legitimately own such a thing (so the....purpose would be a secret...the people knowing of the dome might very well think that his eccentric hoppy is exotic gardening.

The "people" could very well be brain-leaf thrulls. Those providing the test captured some criminals and/or vagrants, threw them into the garden about 48 hours earlier and know the area is populated with an assortment of "guardians" thereby. The antidote was placed near (but not at the roots of) a major brain-leaf plant. So, the thrulls of this plant will defend the way to the potion by accident since they are really defending this one plant.

If you want to go for this idea, I can try to provide some more obstacles inside this dome.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not a direct answer to your question (sorry about that) but your three trials inspired me ... the climactic, final trial could be something like killing his own father, signifying the Moritat literally killing his former self and allegiances and now serving only the Emperor.

Failure to comply with this trial is failure to continue as Moritat ...

Sick huh? read about it in a comic from 15 years back.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gregorius21778 said:


first and foremost, I love the idea of your little Dusk bird. Consider it "stolen", as I will use it as "give-away" that one some npc is involved into a Dusk-Beastmuggling opperation.

Danke für die Blumen! I've stolen several of your ideas so far, so I'm happy to give a bit back.


As for the garden dome: I have thought about something similar, my first idea was to have the whole trial take part on Dusk (hence the toxic bird). I dumped this idea because the character turned out to be more the streetcat-type (hiding in the lower hive, associating with gangs and crimelords), and he doesn't have any connection to or experience with greenery…
BUT on the other hand, this could be absolutely intended, couldn't it - to throw him into completely unfamiliar territory, thus enhancing the difficulty of the test? Plus, I'll probably have my arbitrator hunt a drugdealer through street canyons for his intro, so maybe that would be a bit too much urbanity anyway.
Soooo, unless you spontaneously come up with a more "dark 'n gritty" idea or think me horribly ungrateful (which is how I feel ^^), I'd gladly hear your thoughts about the plant-dome, and thanks a lot in advance! happy.gif

 

 

The Laughing God said:


[...] the climactic, final trial could be something like killing his own father, signifying the Moritat literally killing his former self and allegiances and now serving only the Emperor.

Hehe, me likes! I've been thinking about something like that too, that's why the Third Trial is called Ordeal of the Heart. Father (or in his case, beloved uncle) might be a good choice. Do you think the Moritat would try to put one of their own in charge of a Noble House (and its resources)? Mwahaha, I'd love to see the assassin's player brood over this decision!
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Papercut,

so, if you already thought about putting the pc on a different world for that trial, how about the world of Solomon and the so called "Interior Industrialized Zone"?  This areas are not really part of the hive (I guess you can see the sky there) but this only adds to the problem since they are a polluted industrial hell.

Your Moritat could receive a weak antidote that will slow down the poison... so he has the time to go into the lair of a known "Mutant Lord" an bring his Masters his severed head. That would allow for some tests for climbing, silent movement and concealment. And of course, some Mad-Max-Style opponents in mutated form.

Killing the woman that is going to spend some hours in private with the Averdean Guildmaster on the annual festival of the guilds on (pic-your-imperial-world) could be a nice test as well. Said festival will be some kind of farry/fare on a huge plaza. The Moritat will need to shadow the named Guildmaster and then wait for a good point to assasinate the named lady (who could turn out to be an Ashentear Assasine. The Guildmaster just cowered before her an accepted some deal... which can be broken after the Moritat takes her head). Of course, the woman will have some bodyguards...if only to distract would-be attackers away from her to the useless thugs she hire (Heavies). If the Moritat strikes to early, so, he will have to deal with present Festival Guards (who will not look kindly on an attempt of assasination on the premises of the festival grounds).

If you have something more acrobatic in mind, think about a noblemans hunting party... by sky-barks! About two dozen or sow nobles and their flunkies have set sail...erm... course!.... to the Ashenwastes around Sybillius on a sunny spring day. They inted to hunt for man-rats, ash-croakers, sandslithers and perhaps some ashwaste mutants. Afterwards, the barks get linked with boardings planks and fine wine is enjoyed to live music and exotic dancers (think a mixture of european hunting party and oriental dreams) Will the moritat be able to smuggle himself onto one of the barks, get close to his target and then make it to a smaller hovercraft to escape?
 



Talking rules for your poison (Mild; taking the weak antidote into account:
Every hour the pc needs to pass a Toughness test or he will lose a point of Toughness and another for every two levels of failure. After each strenous activity (fight, climbing, and so on) he needs to pass a test as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks a bunch for all your ideas, Gregorius! I'll name an NPC after your nick ^^
As for Malcolm's intro-scene, I think I'll go for the Solomonic "open the door, kill the mutie, take the treasure (=antidote)" scenario, as it strikes me as short and straight forward (so I can include all those nasty little hallucinations about his past), and I don't want the other players to be sitting around and listen for too long.
I'll steal those other two, however, if you don't mind, I think they make great groundwork for the Second Trial or a nice Assassin solo scene happy.gif

In this case I'll simply weaken the poison, thus removing the need for an antidote in advance. To wear him down a bit, I'll have him gain fatigue for failed toughness tests (implying cumulative houserule penalties) - it's not supposed to be easy, not even in numbers, not to mention having to kill "himself" in the end.

Praise the Emperor! Now I only need a few occasions for skilltests and a handful of opponents for a cute little Moritat trial. Though I think I am at least able to come up with those myself, if anyone has ideas, I'd gladly hear them.

Thanks again, this is really one of the most sensible forums ever, methinks!
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Papercut,

just for confirmation: you now need ideas for "going for the kill in a mutant camp in the Interior Zone on Solomon", correct?

If so (and bevor I go into detail) have some kind of burned out sky-scraper like building (same outloo, but smaller...perhaps six stories or so) surrounded by a shanty town.

Reason behind this: The mutant band are mainly bandits. They raid people crossing the interior zone (and on occasion settlements known to them).
The old sky-scraper (properbly a forma administrative building for the surrounding pipe-work-industry-hell) is both easiert to defend and works perfect
as an outlook.

The shanty town...the mutants have "coin to spend and things to barter". Heretical people (= willing to deal with mutants) come their. Reclaimators sell and buy stuff, whores offer their bodies, weapon smith, alcohol distilleries..you get it...

'That´s for now, more perhaps later :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A more simple mechanic presents itself to represent the poison as it courses through our Moritat.   Simply call for toughness tests whenever the character does something strenuous, starting off with relatively easy +10 or +20 checks (with an extra +10 if he already has Resistance [toxins]) and then ramping up the difficulty as time goes on.   Failure results in a fatigue point that cannot be removed without advanced medical attention or the antidote.  As soon as he fails his first toughness test the entire trial gets harder, as he is now sucking an across-the-board -10 penalty for having fatigue in addition to any other problems he might encounter.  If he racks up more fatigue points than he has Toughness Bonus (probably 2-4 at most, since he is a hive noble) then he "dies" and obviously fails the test.   Importantly, one of the possible uses of Fate Points is to remove a Stun condition and purge any existing fatigue points the character has, so if he pushes himself too hard, he can drive himself on on sheer willpower and discipline (very zen) but at the cost of expending valuable resources (his prescious Fate Points!).  This is also a good use for the handful of Stim doses that are part of a typical Assassin character's starting kit.

A collapsed or semi-abandoned lower hive district can definately make for a good setting for such a test.  There is not going to be much if any official presence in the district, since it is "abandoned", so no problems with Arbites, local Enforcers or other "annoying to dispose of" witnesses to worry about.  What you DO have in such places are the down-and-out of Imperial society...  Criminals, renegades, mutants, heretics and any other undesirables that wish to eeke out an existance away from the Ecclesiarchy and law enforcement agencies.  Dangerous, desperate individuals who will not be missed!

Have the cult drop the testee off near the edge of the district and the "poison bird ceremony" is performed while other cult members stand guard around the ritual.  The assassin must then find his way across the district and obtain the antidote (placed by a fellow cult member during the bird ceremony) before he succumbs to the poison.   Perhaps there are hidden signs and clues dispersed throughout the area (similar to Yakuza secret signs) that require a certain degree of Underworld knowledge to find his way?  Alternately, information and clues must be gathered from the local denizens to point the way.  The second option is a bit harsh though, as Moritat assassins are not known for their Fellowship or people skills, especially when they are drugged, so I would use it sparingly.   The fact that an Underhive gang boss' hideout was selected by the Moritat for the ultimate location of the antidote (stashed there without the gang's knowledge!) provides a natural combat test for the candidate at the end of his ordeal, having to fight in a weakened and poisoned state against multiple foes!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[The Bastion & the shanty camp]

Before the Moritat can reach the "bastion" (the ruined turned into a little fortress by the Mutant-Lord and his bandits) he needs to pass through the "shanty camp. A mixture of huts and stalls made of sheet metal, plastic planes and assorted rubble and numerous tents. While the bandits live inside the "bastion", they are frequently encountered her (bartering their share of the raids for coin and/or alcohol, drugs and whores or weapon and ammo). The majority of people running stalls or offering service here are mutants and heretic (filthy humans whom dare to deal with mutants!) which are "tolerated" by the Mutant-Lord. Nothing keeps his bandit from roughing one of them up, but he does not want the traders to be driven away and thereby his leutenants have an eye on his men (he sees the benefit in this business AND it makes him feel like a real lord)

To even reach the "bastion" of the self-proclaimed Mutant-Lord, the assassine first needs to pass through the shanty-town surrounding it. Which is not to much of a problem since most of those living their aren´t fighters but looters. And it is not uncommon for a lone Reclaimator or roaming troublemaker to pass through. The bandits ignore those unless strangers show up in numbers.

 

Passing the area will take an extended Test for either Disguise(+20) or Silent Move(+10). Either to look like the local rabble or to pass between the Shanties unnoticed. A total of...perhaps 10 successes(?) is needed to get to the Bastion. If a test is actually failed, the pc got unwanted attention.

If he used Disguise, he is noted and approached by some locals. If the test failed miserably, perhaps some of the Bandits approach him.
If the Assassine does not want to start a fight, he can settle things with a test for Deceive, Intimdation (as long as he did not run across some of
the Bandits!) or Blather. Or anything else the pc comes up with as some-one asks him who he is and what he is doing here...

If he used Silent Move a test for Concealment is the onyl option left to ensure that whoever comes round for a cursory inspections will not spot him and write it off as "just the rats". Or he could test for Weapon Skill to dispatch such a nosy fellow, hoping that the body is not found or cared for before he reaches the bastion

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[The Bastion]
The actual bastion is a forma administrative building. In the lower levels, all windows have been barricaded from within and the only entrance is guarded
by two bandits. Behind them, more are waiting so that even IF the Moritat would be able to quickly dispatch the two at the front, the others would raise an
alarm.

 

One possible route to get inside is to climb up the walls to some un-barricaded window-openings higher up. This will take a challenging(+0) extended Climb test and as many successes as the GM sees fit. Three levels of failure will make the pc lose his grip. A grateful GM might offer him a final Agility test to avoid  falling, but I would say "he goes down". Anyway, every level of failure will result in some noise as small (or not so small) pieces of the old building losen and fall to the ground. The guards will thereby get an Awarenss test. The testist challenging(+0) and will get one step easier for each level of failure on the climb test. If the guards come and look, the Assasine gets one difficult(-10) Concealment test to hide himself in some window opening or shadow or something. So, he can evade exposure. But this will only work once. The next time he fails a test and the guards pass theirs, they WILL find him.

Another option could be the sewer channels. But these are flodded with a unhealthy mixture of chemical residue and "sour rain". It will takes tests for Swim and test Perception (Touch) to find a way around some obstacles in a flooded tunnel the pc dives through. Of course, the longer it takes (extended test) the higher the risk that the rules for Suffocation will kick in.
No matter how quick the pc finds his way, the "sewer entrance" is covered with a heavy iron grate. A difficult(-10) strength test is need, otherwise the pc will gain a level of fatigue from the Lifting action (and remember: your poison!). Once he is out of the chem-polluted waters of the old sewer system, all ranged weapon will need a sever cleaning or might even fail... and perhaps he does not have the time since some guards are after him. And no matter how secure his equipment was packed, this chem-waste-water is agressive and siffs through plastic with ease. It will even cause a painful skin-rash. 

Last but not least, he smells chemically and might suffer from blurred vision due to the fumes he inhales (-5 on all test relying on sight; unless a Toughness test is passed).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Guys, you are amazing! This is getting almost too sophisticated for an introductory scene, the other players will be jealous. I love it. gran_risa.gif
 

I will take Zilla's poison rule one to one (very zen indeed), and else I will handicraft a synthesis out of all your suggestions. I'll go back to my orignal rundown lower hive district, but instead of abandoned and forgotten it is a slum like Gregorius pictured, dominated by said ganglord and his thugs. There naturally will be countless large buidings in the area, so the gang hideout is not the obvious place to go. After the poison ceremony, Malcolm has to pick his way through the slum in search for, say, three hidden signs pointing toward the location of the antidote (kind of a high-risk scavenger hunt, which gives me opportunity to think up some mystic prophecy-like lyrics, hehe), using the mechanics Gregorius suggested. As he's been hiding in the lower hives for quite a time now, this should be fairly easy for him, though maybe his beloved black mono-sword will raise suspicions. Once he puzzles out his destination he has to enter the "bastion" one way or the other and make it to the top level where the ganglord holds court. He has to deal with the bodyguards on the way, then enter the ganglord's rooms. Somehow, I imagine a decadent party going on in the antechambers, heavy obscura smoke, purple velvet curtains, lightly dressed girls, a general dreamlike atmosphere. The antidote should probably be hidden somewhere about the crimelord's own person, preventing Malcolm from simply searching the rooms.
 

Some numbers questions here:
 

When failing a single test while rolling an extended test, does the extended test start all over again?
 

Is there a rule for "one-hit-kills"? Of course, the assassin gets a surprise attack if he manages to sneak up on his target, but he still has to test against WS, doesn't he? I imagine it fairly impossible to miss an unmoving, surprised target when slicing a knife across its throat in the dark. And even if he does, he needs to roll heavy damage for an instant kill crit. There should be a rule for sneak-kills of "extras", but I can't find one.
 

Should I allow the assassin to take tools with him, like his grappling hook, combat drugs or maybe poisoned needles if he thinks about getting some in advance?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Papercut,

it is true that the rules do not know an "out-kill", but as you said it: if sneak up with a knife behind somebody and manage a quick cut from one side of the throat to the other... it will be a little more then just 1d5+3 damage.

I normally make use of my almigt of decision as a GM to proclaim that "he is dead, Jim".

 

@Tools
Without tools, I think the whole operation is unsolveable. He should be able to choose from his posessions or be even give a small choice of weapons and objects.

@Hidden on the body
I think it would be pretty hard to hide an item on somebody for a longer duration of time. I would still adivse the "go their, bring me the head of and return for the antidote" approach. After all, this is what a Moritat will be doing later in his life. Expect for this poison-thing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would make a lot of use of the entire hallucination theme.

He drinks the blood of the bird, and passes straight out. He wakes up on a sunny morning on the outskirts of the family estate, the weather is perfect. He has been hypno-programmed to know that the Great Enemy of Emprah has infiltrated even this heaven, and must be purged. The Assassin must sneak in and bring swift and bloody death to the enemies of Him on Terra.

As he makes his way towards the estate, he sees that the ground begins to burn where he has stepped, and spreads out from his footprints consuming grass, ground and structures like it was celluloid film. He now has to race ahead of this fire or be consumed. The fire speeds up its rate if he runs, and it never slows down again, forcing him to progress ever faster forward. (make a note of any movement actions, the Assassin will have to move at least that fast from then on - Nice surprise after taking that run/charge action in the first battle)

With the fire still small and the sun still high he meets servants or friends of childhood, who are trading without affording proper tithe to Him on Terra. Punishment is in order. Purge the mutant in blood.

Late after noon and a wall of fire not far behind he meets brother/sister in the outer courtyard. She is alien, Xeno, strange, foreign, outsider beyound His light. Purge the Eldar menance in blood.

Late evening in the halls of the estate he meets his mother as smoke billows through the floor and fire dances outside the windows. She is a monodominant reactionary who would stiffle all things and strangle the light of the Lord of Humanity. Purge this biomechanal beast in blood and razor steel.

At midlight he meets his father in the main hall, embers falling from the roof, flames bursting through the collapsing floor, guests feasting and dining as the fire consumes them, burning skeletons with bubbling meat on their bones and liquid boiling from the pits of their eyes toasting the health of the lord of the manor. The father is the corrupt soul who leads mankind astray, his loose morals and lack of discipline dooming them to darkness. The assassin must destroy the demon who is his father, and the father who is the demon. Purge chaos in blood and by the name of Emprah.

If the Assassin thriumphs, then he can tear a crystal of pure ice from the heart of the demon. Drinking this solid liquid will instantly extinquish the fire and suddenly leave the Assassin alone in a dark armored room littered with the hacked up remains of multiple close combat servitors. This is the good end.

The entire journey is of course the poison induced hallucination, and the fire is the poison slowly killing him, and speeding up as his system does. The images are taken from his own subconcious and memories, prodded a little by hypnosis from the death cult.

Run the scenes with plenty of scenery to be vaulted, jumped and run over, like racks of ancient power armors, hedge mazes, huge statues, fountains, collonades, servants oblivious to the battle, curtains and banners. Make sure the enemy uses these - To inspire the Assassin player, if such prodding is needed. All of the foes can be designed specifically to the degree of difficulty you want and to the Assassin's detoriating wound level - Remember to keep track of fatigue, he will have been "running and entire day" by the final scene.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thx for your ideas, Zipangu. In general, I like allegories, and as mentioned, I will have him slip into such a halluzination, but only at the end and I don't want to overdo it. The "killing your friends and loved ones" part will come into play later, at the Third Trial, so I don't want to shoot my bolt at the beginning. But I like the crystal in the heart thing and the fire allegory, as I still plan to have Malcolm find the antidote physically at the end of his trial, as opposed to Gregorius21778 suggestions (sorry, Gregorius gui%C3%B1o.gif).
Hokay, I'll smooth out this thing and report how it went in game, though it will probably be some time from now, if it takes place at all (as my group somehow seems to be falling apart at present, **** human relationships all to hell, sob).

Thanks again to everyone, I really do appreciate your efforts and hope that they weren't in vain...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...