After-Action Analysis: Arc Words!

Another Thursday, another session of everybody’s favourite campaign: Return To Daylight!

This week I had to GM from my combined bedroom/study/storage, as the house is being painted. So, battling cramp and hallucinogenic fumes, I soldiered on to deliver a session on time and full-length. Somehow, even my wifi decided to play nice. Could this be the rare ‘good session’ I had heard so much about? Read on.

The party had just learned of an assassination in the previous session, a noble called Jiao of Jing, and decided to investigate to see if it was linked to The Assassin they were hunting. On the way, they met a hawker handing out fliers for a group called the Hyozan Reckoners, and you’ll earn bonus points if you can spot exactly where I stole the idea from. Another faction to muddy the already dirty waters.

At the Jing estate, Iona shone by using her Speak With Dead spell to interview the victim, discovering three important pieces of information: He was killed by a ‘dark-skinned elf woman’ (confirming The Assassin), she used a knife or dagger that magically paralysed him, and she hid something underneath the mattress. The whole process only took a few minutes, and although Iona was alone at the time her player held an OOC discussion with the rest of the party to determine what questions to ask. Jolly good.

While the party were searching the crime scene, and failing to determine magical auras thanks to a string of scorchingly bad rolls, Iona burst in bearing news. They flipped the mattress, and sure enough there was a clue: A flier for a seedy vice den somewhere in the city. It was called the Pit Of Snakes, but somebody had painted on their own text to create the message: “When you enter my Pit Of Snakes you will witness my conviction.”

All very dark stuff. After talking their way past an armed bouncer, they descended into the depths of the Pit Of Snakes and discovered two things: A mural on the wall, and every mercenary in the place had been paid off to ‘kill the next dark-skinned elf that walks in’. They intimidated their way out of having to fight, but the mural was the more important thing here. It depicted a dead female Drow at the bottom of a cliff or ravine, crying Drow child at her side, while up above countless (and featureless) soldiers looked down upon the scene.

The party then had a nice long chat with the publican, while Torik the Dwarf discovered the finer point of tengu sake. Turns out, anybody who survived the battle were instructed to take Rumi’s head round the back of the Teahouse Of April Moons (A very, very fine brothel) for a free go at the ladies within. Hmmm.

And the session ended there, with the party planning an elaborate plot to sneak into the brothel and hopefully catch The Assassin.


The Post-Mortem:

  • The players have a nice rapport between them. Even though Iona rarely speaks, and Rumi is often late to the line, they could quite easily go for a while just feeding off each other. Excellent. I’m getting better at telling when this is happening, so I can delay scene changes.
  • Having Iona spend a few minutes questioning the corpse helped the party put the pieces together, without slowing the game down or making it The Iona Show. Tight, controlled, and made her player feel very useful to the team. Success!
  • All in all, a great session. Now if only I can continue this momentum onto the next one, when we have an Ocean’s Eleven style infiltration!


Tomorrow: Author’s Commentary on chapter 1 of Heaven Smiles, and converting parts of it to the FATE RPG!

Today’s Lesson: The best way to avoid a bar fight is to escalate the situation.

Never fear!