Agon is a Harsh Mistress

This session report cross-posted across the intarnet. 

Tim, Len, and myself gathered for another session of blood, sweat, and glory.

After spending many interludes allowing Alastor to regain his wounds (and Praxis to milk the system for d12 God Oaths), and me telling them they needed to own missile weapons and not split up all the time, what do they do?

They split up.

Specifically, Praxis went to challenge Orpheus for leadership of the tribe, and Alastor went to sneak Proctus (the MacGuffin) out of the area.  They agreed not to join in the other’s challenge.

Praxis and Orpheus had a Great Hunt nonviolent combat, which led to Orpheus taking 4 wounds and ceding to Praxis.

Alastor got to Proctus ok, but I made getting away from the tribe with him a conflict with 5 wolves and 5 men, all minions.  Dire Wolf being dead, the wolves had no name die, but the men were pretty darn kickass.  5d6 + d6 + d8 + 5 is crazy!!!  Alastor got some Glory mopping up a few minions, but they took him down pretty darn good.

Alastor’s name die went up to d10.  I cackled with glee.

Back at the camp, a celebration was held for the new chief.  The traitor Alastor and the runaway, Proctus, were brought to Praxis for judgement.  Listening to Orpheous’s advice on the customs of the tribe (they wanted a sacrifice to show the city dwellers to stay out of their territory), and announcing his divine heritage and saying that Proctus was offlimits, a compromise was reached:  Alastor would be sacrified in Proctus’s stead!  (Alastor was none too keen with this resolution.)

More interludes to get Alastor back down to healthy… I think by this point I had more strife than I started with, and one of the NPCs I had written up was still in play (Orpheus).

Praxis escorted Proctus back to town, and restored him to the temple (ding! sub-objective completed!)

Meanwhile Alastor was beaten and left for dead by the Wolf Tribe.  I made this a dangerous obstacle challenge, because you know, they can’t kill him!  The point is how roughed up is he?  Alastor failed, but got like 8 glory for getting beat up and left for dead.

Together again, Alastor and Praxis began searching for rumors about the construction of the great fleet, which was clearly taking manpower away from the righteous festival.  They learned it was masterminded by Zagreus, the leader of the city, a “giant of a man,” and it was being build to wage a war of expansion.

Praxis dressed himself up real nice as a chieftan and Alastor snuck into the castle; I treated this as one challenge to get them inside.  Alastor took an Advantage challenge, and got an advantage “Zagreus’s Food is Poisoned.”

Praxis and Alastor (disguised) met in the council chambers, where they found out that Zagreus was a cyclops!   😯   Some talk about gods and hubris, and the virtues of Dionysus vs. Ares ensued.  Praxis talked some major trash, and Zagreus decided to deal with things the way 24-strife point Cyclops tyrant-kings are prone to do-with violent challenges.

The monster rules came out, and people groaned.  Praxis only had 3 divine favor in his pool.  (In order to let Zagreus be an “intelligent monster,” I built him with the Man rules, and then added the Monster Invulnerability as a strife advantage, costing 3, based loosely on the resurrection power.)  I told them of the secondary objective “discover Zagreus’s weakness,” and about fleeing options, but Alastor divinely-empowered his weapon and went to whup-ass.

Zagreus creamed Alastor (Zagreus had 1d10 Name, 1d10 Athletics, 1d12 Sword, a 3d6 Sword and a normal Shield, 1d8 Offense, 1d8 Defense, and the power Multistrike 1.  Alastor had 1d10 Name, 1d6 Athletics, and 1d10 Sword.  Ouch.)  Praxis ran away.

Interludes followed for Alastor to heal himself, and for Praxis to gain divine favor and lose impairment (and remotely heal Alastor).  A single conflict broke Alastor out of Zagreus’s dungeons, and they decided to set up an ambush for Zagreus, by spreading rumors of Alastor’s appearance.

Big final fight: we decided to play for all the marbles here, with the festival of Dionysus hinging on the party’s defeat of Zagreus.  Zagreus showed up with 12 soldier minions, and the battle was joined, starting with 5 point weapon power-up expenditures from both player characters.

Praxis was Zagreus’s early target, and responded by burning through the Fate track to up his name die to d12, and Alastor soon followed suit!  Good positioning let the heroes focus fire on the mooks and keep Zagreus in check, but Praxis was downed by concentrated mook fire and Zagreus’s attacks, and Alastor was not too soon after.  They had both filled up their entire fate track, and Praxis had 6 legend, with Alastor having 5, so we agreed that they both died then and there.

One thing I noticed was that mooks were really really powerful- I wonder if the “kill an extra minion on a victory” option should be available (maybe it is and I was just forgetting it, but I think I read about it being an option and some people not liking it.)

The other thing is that there’s a HUGE death spiral in combat- each wound makes your next action, or all further actions worse.  If you’re outmatched, it only gets worse.  I think this was exaggerated by the fact that we only had 2 players.

But worse, there’s a meta-death-spiral.  When you get defeated, it takes a ton of interludes to get back to full health (a larger or more cooperative party can cut this down, and I suggested lots of Divine-Favor using ways they could boost their heal rolls too.)  Len said he thought there were 30+ interludes taken, although I didn’t keep track.  I do know I ended the game with 115 strife (and joked that I could easily bring in the four cyclopsian brides of Zagreus, if I so desired.)  The only way to break out of that seems to be to abandon the quest after taking interludes, wiping the strife slate clean.

All in all, a good time, although still some stumbling with the rules.  Everyone they agreed they wanted to play again (although with another player or two), and that they were getting the hang of things.

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