‘Henchmen’ Campaign – System: Fate Accelerated by Evil Hat Productions
In a fantasy world with strange races, magical powers and a hierarchy of heroes and villains, we are Henchmen – soldiers for hire and underlings to an evil Lord.
Tunnels are traversed, magical doors mystify and time is running out!
After being abducted mere steps from the safety and warmth of his own home, Elon was once more returned to the group, and agreed to lead them through the secret tunnels beneath the Silver Citadel. Although he was angry as having been snatched up by Tim’s pet Griffin, the players explained that the Toadlord, their former master, may be alive and imprisoned in the Citadel as one of the blood sacrifices for the King’s dark ritual. The midnight deadline for the ritual was fast approaching, and Elon led the henchmen into a small tunnel mouth on a secluded hillside near the Citadel, leaving Tim’s Griffin behind due to the cramped conditions.
As the group moved forward in darkness, refusing to light a torch, they were forced to halt when Elon tripped over a body in the widening tunnel. “Spare some gold for a poor old woman,” a voice called out of the darkness. Still refusing to light a torch, most of the group decided to ignore her and move further into the tunnel. Only Polly dropped a coin to the old lady as they passed.
Further down the passage, the group encountered some kind of mystical doorway, drawn in blue glowing runes on the cavern wall in front of them. The doorway throbbed with power, and nearby a small golden key hung from a nail in the wall. Above the door, in an ancient magical script was written, “Every Door Has A Lock”. But search how they might, the henchmen could find no lock in the glowing blue runic doorway. Tim spent a moment to examine the key itself, noting a message written in small letters: “Every key has a lock.” The wall itself was featureless and immovable, and again, no lock could be discerned.
Tim decided to trust to his strange magics, and commenced a short ritual to try and locate any other magic in the immediate area. In response to his spell, a strong pulse of energy told him that whatever he was looking for lay behind him, down the tunnel through which they had travelled. While Tim waited, observing the door, the rest of the group returned down the tunnel, where they came across the homeless woman once more. “Spare some gold for a poor homeless woman?” she called to them again as they approached. With sudden inspiration, The Knife held out the golden key, which the homeless woman accepted, and the doorway opened before Tim’s eyes.
Beyond the magic doorway, a long and winding tunnel lead the henchmen to a set of stairs that lead distantly upwards, into a cavernous opening overhead. Sneaking to the top of the stairs, Tim and Polly reported that the cavern seemed to be the site of the King’s dark ritual, which had already begun! The King’s sonorous chanting boomed out in the cavernous space above, and the Henchmen could see many people caged before an alter, ready for the sacrifice. The Toadlord, Brutalicus and many more were restrained but alive for now, and the King was chanting upwards at the darkness with a ritual blade in hand. Were they too late to stop the sacrifice?
The homeless woman / magic doorway puzzle was my first attempt at a puzzle encounter in this adventure, and, of course, it didn’t survive first contact with the players. My plan was that they would encounter the woman as they walked through the tunnel, and as they gave her a gold coin, they would see that she already carried a bulging bag of gold. Knowing my players, i expected them to kill her and take the gold, only to find her returned to life when they returned, unable to open the magic door. I hoped that they would realise that something strange and magical was going on, which would help them solve the puzzle. But as they made their way through the tunnel, they refused to light a torch, and couldn’t see the woman or her pouch of gold – a pretty major clue for the solution of the puzzle.
Despite this, they did work it out, and quite quickly, although Tim took a bit of a shortcut by relying on his magic to point them in the right direction. I could have been stricter with the group and disallowed the ritual, but I didn’t want them to be completely stumped. All in all, they got to have an encounter that wasn’t a battle, and while it wasn’t the world’s greatest puzzle, it was something different.
Next post will be the final gameplay post for this campaign. Stick around and see if the Henchmen are able to stop the ritual in Gameplay Session 3 – Part 3!