Potentes Playtest

My medications have not been doing their jobs lately, so I am on a medical leave from work, and unable to do a great deal most days. This is my (poor) excuse for not posting more often.

So, due to a scheduling area Game Night rolled around this week with nothing on the docket for us to play. One GM was sick enough he didn’t feel up to running (though he could play), and the other doesn’t want to continue his Call of Cthulhu campaign with one of our players still attending via Skype. I had nothing prepared, but I have been doing a small amount of work on Potentes, so I said I could run that.

None of the players has read the rules, not even my wife (though she glanced at a couple parts, and like I said last time, it is a rules-light game), so it was really a test of how easy the system is to understand. My explanations didn’t seem to work for a couple players, but once we started doing it even the two players who usually have the most difficulty with new systems seemed to get it pretty quickly.

Anyway, the five players were instructed by their lord to go find a magic millstone that produces unending rice when used in a secret way. If they refused, he would execute them and all their families–something that was a bit of a non-threat, since this was a one- (or two-) shot and none of them had any family the players cared about, but they went along for the ride anyway. Walking through a portal let them bypass the long travels to the edge of their world, where the fey creatures live.

Passing through a corridor of insane shadows, they found themselves in a grassy field surrounded by trees, with an indistinct shimmer and some odd rocks all that would show their way home. At this point, Takajima–the archer specialist, with a stolen enchanted crossbow–made an attempt at spotting anything out of the ordinary, and discovered a tree in the nearby forest was moving.

At this point Mori Asuna, the talker/thief-type person, decided to investigate and stealthily move closer. She failed to get a good look, but managed to remain hidden. She heard a voice loudly mumbling, “I smell meat,” and quickly and quietly left. Unfortunately, the ‘tree’ spotted the rest of the party and disappeared from view. They spotted the mostly-invisible behemoth approaching as his magic failed halfway across the grassy meadow. He was a giant humanoid figure walking on all fours, and he was wearing a tree-top as a hat and had branches all down his shoulders. His tusks were as large as his face was grotesque.

The players decided to bluff, and began weaving a tale of not being made of meat–they told him they were hay-people. He had a hard time believing this, since he could smell meat from them, but he was big and dumb, so eventually they dealt him enough Sanity damage to make him give up and leave them alone. I allowed this to come down to rolling only because they started trying to eat the grass, and some of them managed to sneak hay into their armor.

Walking into the forest in a different direction than he had left them in and following the map they had been given when Takajima noticed some giggling. Asuna again sneaked ahead and tossed a pine cone at a shimmer on a tree branch, scaring a much smaller creature into appearing. The ugly fey creature made a deal on learning they wanted into the castle’s treasure room: a statue special to his people, for treasure and aid.

After some experimentation with some oddly colored fish that gave them the ability to float, they made camp with the little creature and his hundred brethren, who each summoned other foods, housing, weapons, and various other goods by hammering a little club on the ground. Around midnight, the tree-clad creature jumped into their camp–the person on watch, Kyoko, missed his approach.

When they looked for help from their new allies, they found their allies’ hut had become a tall tower, and they sat watching everything from the roof. Seizing, Kyoko, the beast prepared to eat her whole. In a last-ditch attempt, Kyoko tried using her diplomatic skills–and confounded the monster into trying to leave (he took a Sanity Injury.) Asuna decided to try talking again, but was too slow–her companions Takajima and Kyuzo (‘made-of-hay’-man himself) went straight for the attack.

After some minor fatigue was dealt by the men-folk, Kyoko lopped off a piece of the creature’s fatty butt to avenge herself for having been dropped and hurt (she should have taken an Injury, but I forgot.) Joining in the assault, Asuna dealt a mighty blow. Kyuzo was about to deal serious damage, but the beast started spending his Strength to avoid blows, but he fell Prone–and in Potentes, being prone is deadly. He ended up spending the rest of his Strength to avoid blows, and had nothing left to attack with (he was a rather flabby creature.) The final blow came in the form of a crossbow bolt to the male reproductive organ. He died without having made much of a mark on the party, except for some scratches to Kyuzo’s armor and the bruises Kyoko got from being dropped.

After butchering the corpse in search of loot (and after finding the gem in each of his eyes), they let the horde of short fey disappeared the body and summon another tent for them. They made it to the castle without major event.

The castle was a fanciful thing in the air, nothing like the ones they are used to in the human realms. Under it was a pit surrounded by a wall, which is where their goal was. Their allies summoned a river and some canoes to take them over the wall, and a huge flock of cow-sized doves to distract the opponents in the air. After the ride of their lives, they found their canoes partially embedded in the inside wall of the pit. Making their way down to the scaffolding along the wall, they saw some cat-lamprey-dog-monkey beasts rushing toward them. They fought, but other than some Sanity fatigue from the mind-altering properties of the creatures’ spit attacks they finished it handily. Next time we see if they can handle a fey castle town.

Lessons learned: it is a fast and wild system, that just needs more carefully made opponents to be challenging. Some balancing of the special powers is needed.

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