Game Session: ‘Night of Blood’ using Zweihänder – another play report!

We recently ran a Night Of Blood, put it up on Youtube and shared out a mini-bestiary to convert everything over from Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay to Zweihänder Grim & Perilous RPG. Looks like we’re not the only ones who ran it, either! Vorpal Mace ran his own session, as did Forrester Killian Smith, a member of the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1e on Facebook.

Check it out here!

On Halloween night I ran my first session of Zweihänder, using the Night of Blood updates supplied by Daniel Fox. I haven’t had time until now to do a write-up, but I think that is in my favour because my account may be less technical. I will keep this post largely rules-agnostic, since this is not a review. I took two choice elements from Fox’s live play as well which I quite enjoyed – the stag in the woods and Otto’s fumbling with his keys – and ignored some of the new abilities granted the mutants in the conversion documents to keep the villains more grounded (no pun intended, but Otto’s ability to fly was much too David Lynch’s Dune for me).

The characters:

  • Bärbel Dewes – A rather ugly 51-year-old Smuggler with a motherly attitude and an Order/Chaos alignment of Duty and Fatalism. She was 5′ 2” and 92 lb, making her the smallest in an already small party. Her Dooming was “Some things, no man should know”
  • Edeltraud Effenbaum – An 18-year-old Anarchist, bright-eyed and eager with an alignment of Charity/Pity. Her Dooming was “Avoid the exotic when possible”
  • Günter Grimm – A mowhawk-sporting slayer in his mid-20s, taller than the other party members but still slender, and bearing the same alignment as Fr. Dewes. His Dooming was “Thou shalt not see the end”

I told the players the situation – they would be traveling from one large city to another through the Imperial Woods in a tumultuous storm – and prompted them to devise a relationship between them. They debated but essentially decided that they were supernatural poachers, hunting helpless magical creatures for gain, and had been forcibly ejected from their last city. They had fled the town guard, and taken back roads to avoid the Road Wardens. Soon the mercenaries they had hired abandoned them for lack of pay, and they found themselves alone in the storm, Günter sheltering Bärbel with his cloak as she held a guttering torch out of the rain.

It was not long before they heard the strangled cry in the wood, which Bärbel correctly surmised to be a Grendel (Beastman), and incorrectly surmised to be wounded. Joking about their past experiences slaying helpless creatures (including a lone, sick Grendel once), they decide quickly to ambush the creature and sell its head for profit, hopefully at the Hooded Man Inn – which they knew to be nearby. Edeltraud expertly dived behind a large stone and Günter took a position flanking the spot he predicted the thing would break through the brush, but unfortunately Fr. Dewes was unable to pull her aging form up into a nearby tree as she had wished. Grimm reported to the others that he saw something white in the wood, followed by a pack of shapeless things, but they stuck to their guns (literally in the case of Dewes).
Shortly a beast broke through the bracken – a stag as white as starlight – and ran into the wood. The others whispered to Dewes, who was incredibly knowledgeable, demanding to know what manner of portent this was, but she was at a loss. There was little time to think however, as that was when the Grendel and their Mutant companions followed the path the deer had taken and came out onto the path. Horrified, the party saw the twisted things and turned to Grimm for support, and the Slayer assured them that they could take the beasts. As Dewes loaded her pistol she told the others that these were not all Grendels, but four of them were indeed Chaos Mutants, those who have turned away from the light of God (Sigmar) and embraced Chaos, allowing it to warp their bodies and minds. This struck a chord with the party and galvanized them ever more for the fight to come.

The first strikes were rather ineffective, with the Slayer’s bullet bouncing off the snout of the bull-headed leader, and Grimm’s whip flailing helplessly into the night, though the Slayer did unleash a terrible Litany of Hatred to demoralize their attackers. Dewes, failing to wound the creatures, charged the leader head-on and was quickly surrounded, while Grimm retreated behind a tree and was flanked. Edeltraud tried to tear a hairy man-thing from Fr. Dewes, but proved unable. The combat went on for a couple rounds, with Dewes quickly become greatly wounded (though not injured). Eventually Dewes broke and fled into the wounds, pursued by two attackers, whilst Grimm extolled the assurances of their victory. Immediately after his speech, however, Grimm was eviscerated by the claw of one of the Grendels, snapping one of his ribs, and then grabbed from behind by a tentacled thing and smashed unrelentingly into the tree he had been using for cover, brutally maiming his foot. Grimm managed to survive until he could also flee into the woods, leaving young Edeltraud alone, though she eventually fled as well. After a harrowing chase through the woods, they managed to shake their pursuers, coming out onto a cobbled road, still pelted by the storm.
Dewes and Grimm seemed largely unscathed by the chase (despite Grimm’s dire injuries, which he chose to ignore do to a bizarre psychosomatic disorder which did not allow him to feel pain), but Edeltraud’s clothing was black with grime and she was bruised and ill-tempered. Grimm found a sturdy stick for a cane and Dewes quickly made some bandages, which aided herself and the Anarchist, but not Grimm, as they decided to advance towards some lights along the nearby river, which they assumed must be The Hooded Man.
Arriving at the gate and finding it closed, they decided to be wary and, rather than try the lock or knock and beg entry, scout the edge of the wall. In ddoing so they made their way down to the ferry, finding the ropes cut which bound it and the door to the ferryhouse open. Edeltraud and Dewes together pulled the raft up further onto the muddy hillside so it would not wash away in the storm while Grimm burst into the ferryhouse, sword drawn.

Inside the ferryhouse they found signs of a struggle and a large number of coins (which Fr. Dewes took for herself), including a handful of Gold crowns (“This must be an expensive ferry. Someone paid in Gold Crowns, because you know this guy didn’t just run to the bank and exchange some pennies for Gold.” – Günter Grimm)! They took the lantern hanging here and observed the back door, which also hung slightly ajar and which a bloody path on the floor led to. Supported by his cane, Günter spun and kicked the back door from its hinges and they observed the lights of the inn, visible up the hill through the open side gate.
Wary of monsters, Dewes asserted that they should spend the night in the ferryhouse before continuing on towards Nuln, but Günter pointed out that perhaps the creatures could return to the ferryhouse, which was now lacking a door, and perhaps the inn had not been compromised and they should warn the people inside. Eventually they all agreed and headed up the hill.

Here I openly admit to making a mistake and putting the horses in the coachhouse rather than the stables, a fact I noticed later, but it changed little. The party heard the braying of the horses in the coachhouse and Günter Grimm brandished his blade, declaring the presence of monsters! But Edeltraud reminded him that it could just be the storm and he calmed.

Coming upon the main building, the party crouched below one of the first floor windows and listened to the joyous singing within, though they could not make out the words. Finally they advanced to the front door and Edeltraud knocked, though the others were as yet unconvinced that they should. At the knock, the singing stopped. Fr. Dewes drew her dagger, hiding it in her sleeve. Edeltraud knocked again.

Finally a great, fat man answered, so bizarrely obese that his feet were not even visible. The party was aghast at his weight and immediately uncomfortable. The man demanded to know their business, and they asked for a room, but he responded that they were “full up” and began to shut the door. Grimm responded with a dig at the man’s weight, attempting to rile him up and playing off of the term “full up,” and it proved more effective than Fr. Dewes polite begging. The man opened the door again to reprimand Grimm, who dropped some pennies in an attempt to stealthily view the man’s feet (which failed). Dewes then offered him a handful of Silver Shillings, which he snatched quickly. Observing his face (“to see if he looks like he’s eaten anyone”), Dewes thinks he appears rather uncomfortable. But he lets them in.
Inside the barroom they see only two other figures: a bug-eyed mop boy (“who looks to be anywhere from 16 to 35”) and a Road Warden relaxing by the fire. The party immediately asks to be shown to their room, but the Road Warden begs them drink with him. Edeltraud professes that she does not have the coin, but the Road Warden, who introduces himself as Hans, offers to buy the drinks. He tells the inkeep, Otto, to fetch them drinks, and the inkeep leaves off fumbling with one key in the lock after another, seemingly unsure which one fits the lock.

As Otto fills four filthy tankards – visibly passing by clean ones – Hans begins to questions them. In response to his questions, Fr. Dewes spins an obviously untrue yarn about being merchants who lost their furs and papers in the woods and that she and her two children were merely hoping to start anew in Nuln, buying textiles. They also tell Hans that they entered through the unlocked FRONT gate, to which he seems worried. Hans apologizes for Otto’s behavior and talks about the long years he has known Otto, who has held this inn for at least a decade. The drinks are brought and Otto leaves to fix some stew, and the party asks Hans about the singing. He says that he likes to sing road songs sometimes. “But there was more than one voice, does Otto sing?” But Hans says he does not and leaves for the kitchen (allowing Edeltraud a clear view of the bloodstain on his shirt). Günter asks the bug-eyed man (whom Hans called Fagor) if he sings, but Fagor only screams obscenities at him, to which Günter laughs and declares his liking for Fagor. Fr. Dewes attempts to use her motehrly charms to pump fagor for information, but Fagor shrieks and runs with his mop and bucket into the kitchen.

Edeltraud approaches the kitchen door and listens carefully, hearing Hans calming Otto, and promising that the party would have their souls fed to Tzeentch. She also hears that something is being put in the food. Hearing the conspirators break, she rushes back to the bar, sipping her ale. Otto exits first, depositing the soup near the fire where the party sits and leaving through the front door, fingering his keys. Edeltraud hurries to her companions, but is distracted from warning them by Hans’s entry. Hans offers another round of drinks, and Günter tells him to grab the clean mugs. Günter rapidly begins shoveling the soup into his mouth, but Dewes sense something off and dumps hers in the fire, warning Günter. The Smuggler helps the Slayer vomit into the fire and then apologizes for her friend’s weak stomach. Edeltraud does not eat, but whispers quickly what she heard.

Hans returns and tells them that a coach party is filling the normal rooms, so they will be staying in the common room. The party asks Hans to prove he is a Road Warden, and he points to his badge, then his shield, then produces papers. The entire party is illiterate, though they merely nod, trying to Memorize the shape of his signature. Edeltraud considers assaulting the Road Warden, but Dewes quickly distracts her by asking to be shown to bed (“I am old”). Hans calls for Fagor, and the part wishes the road warden good night, saying that he would be a much better innkeep than Otto.

Fagor shuffles them along, muttering and giggling, before showing them to the common room, not noticing as they observe the bent carpet nails and freshly mopped floor. Günter asks him to make sure that they are not disturbed, to which he gleefully agrees, before locking the door. They try the door anyways before beginning to plan. While looking out one window, Günter observes Otto out by the coachhouse, and then witnesses a strange spider-legged man crawl from within and join him, headed back towards the inn. They are understandably terrified, crying out in solidarity that they are about to die. They shove Günter’s cane under the door to stopper it, then pile all of the beds in front of the door. They then wait for the thunder. When the thunder comes – in a rapid, booming series of close blasts and bright lightning, they smash a window over the stables, only then hearing the chanting coming from below.

Dewes and Effenbaum climb out the broken window onto the stables, but Günter – hearing a scream from below and remembering the coach party mentioned – cries that it is their duty to go save the innocent. But it is pointed out to him that with his shattered foot he is unable to free the door and go downstairs, so his only option is to flee.

Fr. Dewes falls off the roof of the stables, but is relatively unharmed, and the others join her, headed for the coachhouse to find the horses. Seeing the side gate closed, the decide to still loose the horses, which are unexpectedly right at the doors and nearly trample the party, though they escape unscathed. The party then decides that it is too difficult to catch the horses, let alone open the gates, and so resolve to climb the walls. But Günter Grimm, hearing more screams from the inn, determines that he shall see The Hooded Man burnt to the ground, therefore ridding the world of its evil and freeing the souls of the poor innocents which have been trapped by chaos.

As the other two climb the wall, Günter takes the lantern to the inn and, pushing the door slightly ajar, witnesses the spider-man. Steeling himself, he pushes the door open wide, witnessing that arachnid thing on the ceiling, and charges the bar, slamming the lantern into the spirits. As he dodges the Mutant’s attacks, he begins throwing liquor into the fireplace, still convinced that he shall escape, but Dewes and Edeltraud atop the wall swallow their spit in fear as they hear his death wails, stabbed to death by the spider-man.
The two remaining party members flee back to the ferry, pushing it into the raging water, hoping to survive in an uncontrolled ride downriver to Nuln. Behind them the inn begins to burn, and the screaming continues. Looking back, they witness the spider-man crest the wall and flee into the woods. As they make to push off, a figure runs down the hill from the side gate, screaming for help. Fr. Dewes tells Edeltraud to wait. Taht they must help him. But Edeltraud reminds her that all those that have been touched by Chaos are damned in the eyes of God and there is no saving him. As they push off, the figure reaches the bank, his horrid visage a skull and his eyes rolling in terror as he laments his turn towards chaos and begs them to save him from the thing they have brought into the world. As they cling to their raft, buffeted by wild rains and lashing rapids, they witness a strange dark shape crest the walls of The Hooded Man, and pray that they can find aid in Nuln – some police force to burn this wretched inn.

As the inn disappears, Fr. Dewes draws forth her holy symbol and sets it alight, dedicating its destruction to Günter Grimm.

A few reoccurring themes did not make it into the retelling, such as how often the characters’ staunch religiosity came into play (Dewes’s holy symbol that she “[doesn’t] believe in, but knows it works”) or Dewes’s repeated catchphrase “I didn’t get to be this old by X.” But this aside, everyone had a wonderful time, enjoying both the adventure, the system, and the evening immensely.

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