Campaign Diary: Ramas´ Journey, Part 1

Day 422

I have left the ship behind me earlier than I had planned. The sea made me uncomfortable. It is not sea sickness, but rather the waves and their sinuous movements. Despite the completely different element, they bear too much resemblance to the slowly shifting dunes of my former home.

I cannot yet bear being reminded me too much of Cuzar, so I left at the next harbor, the port city of King´s Cove.

This city, too, fills me with distaste, so I venture further inland. Maybe the forests in the north are quieter…

Day 521

Today, I decided to answer a call for a group of “adventurers”. I do not consider myself an adventurer, but I am short on coin and it might prove to be an interesting diversion.

Day 523

I arrive at the appointed time in a local tavern in “Waldruh”, a tiny village.
It´s a pleasant surprise to meet Atalla, a human druid, there.
We became acquainted a few weeks earlier, and it´s a joyous, if muted, reunion. She too came here to answer the call to adventure and we soon meet the other two that came to help: Gell, a half-orc and Glim, a gnome.

We do not have to wait for long, and a child arrives to bring us to our client´s abode.

After a brief walk we get to a mansion of sorts. The way it is built apart from the hamlet suggests either a position of rulership or a desire to be apart; I can not yet tell which it is.

Once inside, we are introduced to Ilaria, the lady of the house and a tiefling called Anathea, who is, to my understanding, a bodyguard of sorts. 
Without further ado, the nature of our task is revealed to us: Ilaria´s offspring, an infant named Tam has been abducted.
My companions take great interest in the reward, but I do not hesitate to begin questioning Ilaria, Anathea and Brokk, whose role is explained as a manservant of the house.
I frown at the idea of a person being a servant to another – it reeks of slavery – but keep my opinion to myself.

We begin by investigating the child´s room, only to find that there are no signs of a forceful entry into neither the mansion, nor the room. A piece of evidence presents itself however: A blue-white shred of fabric torn from a garment, a garment we have seen before on the personnel of the tavern!

I decide to interrogate the gnome, Brokk, about his duties and the night of the abduction. He is not particularly helpful, and I make it clear that in my culture, failure to protect the tribe´s children is punished by exile. What use is a member of the group if they can not commit to this simple, yet most crucial of tasks?
My remark earns me a round of shocked and exasperated looks.
Apparently, speaking openly is frowned upon in these parts. Still, I do not pursue this line of questioning any further; After all I am the stranger in these lands and I do not know these people´s customs very well.

My allies´s lines of questioning towards Ilaria and Anathea is regarding the motives of the abductors. Ilaria admits that she is not very fond of the inhabitants of the village… and that animosity is likely mutual. She thinks that the villager´s might have taken the child out of fear of the unknown, fear of the forest, maybe even fear of her? Apparently, she feels a greater connection to nature than her fellow humans, if the copious amount of paintings of the forest are any indication.

While I am processing this information, it dawns on me that there is not one, but two wrongdoings at work here:
The crime of abduction, but also the crime of neglect, either on the part of the manservant, or of the bodyguard.
Still, it may not be too late to bring back the child, so the sword of accusation will remain sheathed. For now.
We we venture back to the village to question Horok, the tavern owner.

On the way back, Gell suggests to go directly to the tavern servant´s house, as we have a strong suspicion that she is the one whose clothing was torn while taking the child.
I warn him that kicking a scorpion´s nest is never a good idea.
The metaphor is lost on the others, however.
Maybe they do not know what a scorpion is; I should familiarize myself with the wildlife in these northern forest, to find more apt metaphors.

Back in the tavern, we briefly talk to Horok, to find out how many serving personnel he employs and I also ask him if he feels any animosity from the villagers, him being a half-orc. He denies it and we speak of it no further.
Apparently, the villagers´ fear of the other does not extend to half-orcs.

In the meantime, some local youths have gathered in the bar room, among them the serving girl Ella, our main suspect.
We concoct a plan to engage them in conversation, while Glim sneakily takes a peek at her coat, to see if the shred of cloth actually belongs to her or not.
However, the discussion gets heated and ends with the girl storming out into the night. The boy Grim, who also seems to know something about the matter, follows her, but I manage to corner him and begin questioning him.

The youth is clearly frightened of us and spouts some nonsense about “doing what had to be done”, similar to the impression I had of the girl Ella. I briefly lose my temper and lift him up by the scruff of his neck, pin him against the wall and demand to know what exactly is going on. He does not get much more specific than before, but he points me toward a spot at the fringes of the forest. Is this where the girl ran to?
I leave him with a warning, that it is never a good idea to start a war against the unknown, lest it fight back.
He too fails to comprehend.

We make our way towards the forest edge, to where the boy indicated. Sure enough there is a path, lightly trodden, but clearly visible, and we begin marching into the gloomy thicket. Night is falling, and as we trudge along the narrow path, surrounded by thorny undergrowth, my thoughts begin to drift a little…

The atmosphere is unsettling, menacing even. I am unsure whether there should be more animal noises from the forest or less.
Some of my companions can see in the dark, but Atalla and I can not, so we light a pair of torches to guide our way. The flames cast eerie, flickering shadows and I have the sensation of being watched. Maybe the villagers´ fear is not entirely unfounded and there is indeed something lurking in these woods?

After a time we come upon a clearing, with some manner of shrine at the center, but before we can investigate it, a trio of arrows swish past us, and I hear the screeching tongue of goblins.
I spot one of them in the clearing and start charging toward it. My allies return fire with Javelin and bow, while Atalla summons a mass of vines which entangles a second of the fiends.

Just before I can reach my foe, a third one bursts out of the scrubs to my left and slashes open my thigh. Still, I continue towards the first one, trusting in the ability of my companions to keep the second off my back. It´s only goblins after all. As my foe nocks their next arrow, I grasp it by the neck, lift it up and demand surrender, using their own foul tongue.
It shrieks something about it being too late, and someone coming. I have no idea what it means and begin restraining it, while behind me the sounds of battle fade. My associates have killed the greenskin behind me and knocked the third one unconscious.

Just as we begin to bind them with rope, we hear a child´s cry, from the direction of the shrine…

This is written from the view of Ramas, a character I play in a DnD 5th Editition campaign. Ramas is a first level Fighter.


One-Shot Report: Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost

Last Sunday, I lied to my players. I lied to them quite a lot.

We played a One-Shot session with a pre-alpha version of my own homebrew RPG system.

I lied to them about several fundamental truths regarding the scenario.

Here´s my original proposal in short form:

  1. A one-shot session, not a campaign (only partially true)
  2. Post-post apocalyptic setting (Lie)
  3. Low technology level, no science fiction (Lie)
  4. No magic-users (Lie)
  5. The game takes place on Earth (Lie) in the year 2184 (lie!)

Here´s a brief rundown of what happened, as well as a big marker for when any of the lies were revealed. Also, music, click to relax:

The setting

The year is 2184, mankind has barely survived several global wars which nuclear and chemical bombardments leveled, polluted or otherwise ruined most of the major cities and poisoned the waters for years to come.

All major networks are lost, including the satellite networks and the power grid. Traffic networks are also mostly useless, as the major cities are toxic wastelands. You can have all the roads you want, but there is no use for them if everywhere they lead is ruination.

Pockets of humanity have retreated to sparsely populated areas that are not as badly ravaged by the fallout as others.

Most animal life, especially birds and fish are wiped from the face of the earth.

The events started in a place called Settlement 16, part of a chain of settlements centered around “The Citadel”.

These settlements rely upon each other (for basic production of food and clothing) and especially on the Citadel, because it is the only source of clean water and energy.

Life is simple and uneventful, the only interesting thing happening is that about once a year, the brightest and smartest are asked to join the citadel for the Ascension programme, an initiative to push forward the restoration efforts (rediscover old technology, drive development of new technology, erect settlements in other parts of the world, etc.).

The players took the roles of 5 pre-built characters, ordinary human beings and inhabitants of settlement 16:

  • Ronald, the farmer
  • Olga, the teacher
  • Claus, the smart kid (son of the farmer and teacher)
  • Odo, the village constable
  • Rois, the village ranger
Scanned character sheet of "Olga", the teacher
Scanned character sheet of “Olga”

This is an account of the events, as clear as I can tell them, Act 2 was highly chaotic, with a 4-way party split. I think we managed it decently, but it makes it a bit hard to tell a coherent narrative.

The most important lies and GM notes are marked in the text, I will get back to them, and why you shouldn´t do that, afterwards.

Feel free to skip ahead, as the plot is very confusing to read if you weren´t there. 🙂

Act 1: Racket at the barn

The first scene sees the arrival of Citadel representative Ashur Kodama at the family´s house. His intent is obvious, Claus has been selected for induction into the Ascension programme.

Over dinner, a lively discussion takes place, with Ronald, the father arguing against this, Olga, the mother being cautious and the son himself being curious (Even if it is for the wrong reasons, his first question is if there would be girls at the Citadel)

Scene 2 takes place at the edge of the forest, where the ranger Rois patrols and discovers a group of wild bears rushing towards the village, obviously agitated by something.

She takes up pursuit, and as she leaves the forest, sees strange lights in northern sky (This is actually a space battle taking place in the planet´s orbit.)

The bears crash into the barn of the family´s farm. Rois whistles an alarm to warn the inhabitants of the house and village.

In the meantime, Odo, one of the settlement´s constables is visited by Morgan Leland, the Citadel´s chief of security.

They briefly reminisce about old times and their weapons of office, but are soon cut short by a loud noise coming from the outermost farmhouse.

Morgan signals the hovercraft and they both break into a run for the farm.

The family is also disturbed by the racket the bears are making outside on the barn and begin filtering out of the house to see what is going on.

The bears appear to be quite disoriented, breaking down one of the barn´s wooden walls, the one nearest to the farmhouse.

Olga seizes the opportunity and throws an oil lamp at them as they break through.

Three of them, as well as the wooden wall are covered with burning oil.

A brief melee occurs, in which the bears, by now panicking, are held at bay with makeshift torches, still, one of them manages to seriously injure Ronald with a swipe of it´s claw across his chest, before being eviscerated by Rois´hunting knife.

Odo and Morgan arrive a little later and lay into the animals with taser pistol and pulse rifle.

The fight is swiftly ended when the hovercraft with the rest of the Citadel security personnel arrives, taking down the last of the beasts with their pulse rifles.

However, unbeknownst to them, representative Kodama was inside the barn, and gets mowed down as well. A shot pierces his lung and he falls unconscious.

Frantic activity ensues, the fire is brought under control and the decision is made to bring Kodama and the wounded Ronald to the citadel.

Act 2: Arrival at the citadel

As our protagonists arrive at the citadel, a steel and concrete edifice dominated by two central towers, they rush to the infirmary to take care of the wounded… with the exception of Claus, who sneaks off towards a different corridor.

He slips into an elevator, riding it all the way to the top of the structure.

He surveys the area, crosses a bridge to the second tower and rides another elevator back down, to the second story platform which appears to harbor the dam for the hydroelectric power plant as well as a runway and two small aircraft.

This is what he saw from the top of the tower:

Map of citadel
Handdrawn map of citadel

He also notices three meteor-like objects falling towards the citadel, from the direction of the strange lights in the sky.

In the infirmary, Ronald is stitched up, while Morgan get the news that the orbital platforms are under attack.

Morgan, Odo and Rois venture towards the basement, acting upon a contingency plan that Morgan was given “for emergencies”.

Olga and Ronald venture out as well, separately, sneaking away from the remaining guards, who seem to be concerned with other things (an attack, apparently) than guarding civilians.

Olga finds some classrooms with computer terminals and manages to get a map of the area as well as the information that, yes, there is research regarding space travel, but she is not authorized to view it.

Still, it confirms her suspicions that there is more to this than they were told.

(Part of the second lie is revealed. What I didnt´t reveal yet: Mankind has become a space-faring race, with colonies spread throughout multiple solar system.)

In the basement, Odo and Rois follow Morgan past the water purification plant and all kinds of machinery and computer banks. They arrive at a kind of library / museum, where Morgan instructs them to help carry an astrolabe, which can apparently help save Kodama in some fashion.

While Rois helps, Odo takes a look at some of the antiquities: An ancient sword, and a papyrus scroll, which are displayed very prominently, as if for an exhibition of some kind.

As she observes the scroll, she is befallen by a mental attack of some kind (Nephilim possession, Odo is in the process of becoming a simulacrum to Muchbirin). This is what I gave to the player:

Player handout: Possession by Muchbirin
Player handout: Possession by Muchbirin

Rois, as she touches the astrolabe, is victim to a similar fate. (Player rolls FIVE setbacks, which is an abysmal result. Her mental resistance is immediately overcome, she succumbs to the will of Agmos a Nephilim of the High Priestess Arcanum. At this point, I briefly take both of the possessed players to a separate room to explain. Rois´player agrees to play Agmos, one of the story villains.).

On the upper floors, after a bit of confusion, the rest of the group meet up.

A massive impact shakes the entire facility.

As Rois, Odo and Morgan run past an entrance, they see what has happened. A pod-like missile has crashed into the main courtyard, and a heavily armored figure is embattled with the security forces outside.

Morgan Leland rushes outside to aid her troops in organizing a defence.

Rois/Agmos is able to instantly and completely heal Kodama´s wounds (Lie #3, there is no magic, oops), and they decide that it would be prudent to get to the command center in the upper levels of the tower, to ascertain the situation.

At the urging of Claus, he and his mother Olga split from the group in order to go to the repair bay, where Claus hopes to use his knowledge (a secret I have assigned to the character before the game) to overcharge the pulse rifles, in order to overpower the unknown assailants.

This plan goes awry, when he finds out that the power packs are already overcharged. (The implication here was that the power packs given to the settlement were intentionally throttled to keep a tighter control on the villagers by severely limiting their access to electricity. I am unsure if I communicated this well enough.)

Act 3: Finale

Meanwhile, Olga and Claus are noticed by one of the armored attackers, who begins stomping towards them. They manage to beat him to the elevator, but it arrives to slowly and the massive figure with blood red eyes confronts them.

Fortunately, he is not there to kill them, on the contrary, he is surprised to find civilians within the facility, which forces him to change his plans: They must be brought out of the war zone.

During a short elevator ride, he assures them that he and his allies are here to liberate the humans, and that they have been lied to.

(Here, in my head, several scenes run together, so my account might not be entirely accurate. At some point, the PCs learn that he is the Nephilim Eresh Szat and that the citadel as well as the entire colony is an elaborate setup to create strong human simulacra for the Nephilim operating the facility. The next two lies are uncovered: We are not playing a post-apocalyptic setting at all, and this is in the same universe as the previous campaign (Eresh Szat was an anchor point for the group there.))

At this point, the main elevator of the tower becomes quite the choke point, with various characters riding it up and down. The situation comes to a head when the three hostile Nephilim, Agmos, Muchbirin and Kodama run into the rest of the group at the main elevator.

A brief firefight occurs, which Kodama evades by turning into a cloud of smoke.

Rois/Agmos is incapacitated, but Odo/Muchbirin gets away in one of the small spacecraft. She is still battling the Nephilim inside her mind, and the craft hurtles into the night sky.

The group gathers into the remaining flyer and takes off towards Eresh Szat´s ship, the Integrity. On their journey, they are bombarding him with questions, many of which are answered…

(The original plan here was to give each survivor one question, totalling three here, but I caved to my own desire to unveil more about the setting and gave each of them two. Here, the last two lies were revealed. No, you are not Earth, and no, the year is not 2184, rather it´s the 28th century.)


  • Kodama is alive, tough if he can evade capture from the other two Judges is uncertain
  • It is unclear wether Muchbirin has taken over Odo´s body as a simulacrum, or if Odo resists
  • The three surviving protagonists will be taken to Earth, the real Earth, to stand witness in the trial of Agmos, who will be tried for crimes against humanity.

Game Master notes

Filthy lies!

So, let´s get to the elephant in the room first. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, I do not think that it was a good idea to hide so many fundamental truths from the players. It went okay, but it might have been catastrophic.

I got the buy-in from the players for “a post-post-apocalyptic scenario”, and presented them a “sci-fi-fantasy-mystery-horror” plot.

It´s a bit like going to the movies to see No country for old men, only to find out that the movie has switched to the X-Men at some point in the middle.

Both fine movies, but usually you want to get what you ordered. (Damn, should do a food analogy, okay, it´s like going to a restaurant ordering a pizza, and right in the middle of eating it the chef runs out of the kitchen and heaps a t-bone steak, a chocolate ice cream and a pile of doritos onto your pizza.)

Generally, having mysteries within the game is fine, great even, but this was a bit too much. I think having NPCs lie is a-okay, but the lies should stay within the game, not on the meta-level above.

What went well?

Here´s a few things that I think went especially well:

The opening scene, starting with a conversation scene helped people get into character.

The opening act split-up: I did this for the second time now, having the players start in separate places and uniting them worked out rather well.

Having planned the first act rather meticulously worked out really nicely. And by “planned” I mean “having made a flowchart with the player actions I anticipate”. “Kodama gets seriously hurt” was in there. Another path that would have put a much different tone on the second act would have been: “Kodama is forced to defend himself magically, the players witness this and are captured and taken to the citadel because they know too much (with a possible hovercraft chase when they try to resist arrest)”

“Theater of the mind” combat for the second and third act, I used the maps only as a visual aid here. First act was performed with an ad hoc drawn map tough.

What went wrong?

Some thing went poorly:

My initiative / Speed system not tested. This was due to a blunder of mine (forgot to print out an important gagdet, the turn clock) and I made a snap decision to just give each player the same amount of actions, in order of their speed.

Good decision to keep the game flowing, but my turn system is untested now.

I didn´t play the Morgan Leland character to it´s full potential. Specifically, I should have played her more authoritarian, and acknowledged the fact that she and Odo were supposed to know each other a bit more.

The core resolution mechanic of my homebrew system needs severe simplification. This is probably out of scope for this blog post, I might write a separate one once I am done simplifying it. The gist of it: A combination of too many mechanical actions (picking up many different dice, rolling, partial re-rolling) and three axes of results (setback/advantage, numerical score, number of required successes) made the resolution of combat rolls too onerous.

Back to the drawing board.

Why this specific story?

Actually, I have no idea where the specific plot points came from, the thing with the citadel basically plopped into my head a few month ago.

What I intentionally built was important tough. The Nephilim RPG is one of my favourite settings, however, it has a problem: Basically, the Nephilim taking over a human simulacrum (host body) and relegating the original owner´s mind to the role of a passive observer… well, that´s not very nice, is it?

So, my solution to this was actually supposed to be explored in the old campaign. What if there was a large-scale unveiling of the existence of the Nephilim, and what if, after resolving the initial shock and horror (there would surely be pogroms and similar nasty things, maybe wars), the two races got along?

And after that follows the question that led me to this scenario: What about the Arcana that specifically would not want this? The High Priestess would certainly not be at ease when so many secrets are unveiled, and, even worse, the Tower, the Blasted Tower, would do their worst to undo this.

Tarot card: 16 - The Tower
We must destroy all human knowledge of magic so that we may once again rule in the New Golden Age. We must destroy Orichalka so that we may be immune to human weapons. We must hide our natures that they may not make us targets. We must also build high refuges where magic can be kept from humanity.

What´s next?

My TODO list swells to epic proportions:

A new campaign (not a one-shot)

  • Outline the campaign (Preliminary idea: medieval, in the Nephilim universe)
  • Write a pitch for the players
  • Prepare a session zero, specifically: character creation, establishing the characters within the game world, establish the some story locations (I want to try doing this together with the players)
  • Write character classes

Update my homebrew system

  • Add damage and armor rules (Current rules are very basic/perfunctory)
  • Simplify the core resolution mechanic
  • Streamline the combat rolls a bit, specifically, I think Acrobatics (Dodge) must have some kind of diminishing returns when being attacked by multiple people
  • Update the character sheet (It worked, I specifically designed it as a one-page lookup, but it needs more shortcuts)
  • Make rules for character creation (probably some kind of point-buy system)
  • Write up some skills for a medieval campaign (Probably at least: horse-riding, melee weapon specialisations
  • Add a magic system (I have already started this for the Nephilim NPCs), I want to do justice to the cool magic system of the original game, but also improve upon it´s mechanical rigidiy and remove/rework some of the more esoteric spells

There´s a lot to do. Let´s get to it!

Nephilim – Chapter 5: Acquistion

(Disclaimer: This is a synopsis / battle report of a session within our Nephilim RPG campaign. It serves to give some context to the fiction I post, as well as simply practicing writing.)

Chapter 5: Acquistion


Last time we saw our heroes, they have secured an Earth Plexus in a cave/sewer network beneath Berlin. Having secured the Earth Plexus, our protagonists are presented with an unexpected situation by Skaro.

She has obtained information about two manuscripts that might contain more modern writings about Golems (not the clay prototyp developed in 17th century Prague), but they are part of a private collection that is being auctioned off.

Two sets of two invitations are granted to the group, and they will have to get creative in order to get the fifth person into the venue.

Skaro has also provided funds, 400.000€, and an additional 25.000€ in cash.

Arrival at the venue

The auction is held at a private mansion, and the group arrives fairly early.
Finistur summons her kabbalistic sword and armor and deposits them in the group´s jeep, “just in case”. With a bit of magical assistance from Gealach, Sil’Faron, in his identity of Bernd Schiffer, manages to dupe the doormen that the 17 year old Kek is actually his son. The bouncers are quite dazzled by the charismatic display, and let them all in.

Sha Naqba Imuru and Sil’Faron have received bidder numbers for the auction, while the others are only present as their aquaintances.

Once inside, our protagonists survey the list of items that will be auctioned off.

  • The two manuscripts by R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz they came for
  • Three paintings of archangels (Jophiel, Raphael and Gabriel)
  • Three french books
  • A horrendous looking sculpture of a melting person

Photo of the auction programme and list of items
Photo of the auction programme and list of items

Lounging & Socialising

Before the auctions are starting, the group socialisies with the other attendees, finding four other Nephilim among them. This makes for a total of nine Nephilim present, a staggering number, considering how far apart they are usually. An illustrious gathering indeed.
They approach all of them, to find out where they stand regarding the acquisition of the manuscripts.

Surprisingly, Joris, who is known to the group as Tanja, is present. She wants to spy out the humans, to find out which ones belong to secret societies. She´s also here under a fake identity, Anna Michalska.

Finistur meets the englishwoman Caitlin Sanders, a Fire Nephilim incarnated into an elderly woman. She is interested int he sculpture and the painting of the Archangel Raphael, and also wants the other items to go into Nephilim hands, as opposed to the grubby fingers of mundane humans. She claims to be willing to destroy the merchandise otherwise.

Gealach has a brief chat with a dark-haired woman named Francesca, a Moon Nephilim.
She appears to be a direct competitor for the two Schwaller manuscripts.

Kek, and later Gealach, engage in a Poker game in the mansion´s Gentleman´s Club, with a young man called Eduard Miller. He savagely cheats at the game, using concealed magic to embarass a player to leave the game during a large pot. Afterwards, Kek approaches him to find out about the auction. Mr. Miller first claims to only be here “for the people”, but later admits that his patrons are interested in one of the french books, Der Kampf ums Dasein am Himmel, which contains only “beginner level” arcane knowledge.

There are also a number of notable “regular” humans among the crowd of about 50 people present, some of them obviously not interested in the occult. Sil’Faron manages to talk a pompous man named Marco Probst, who obviously has no appreciation for literature, into believing that the Schwaller manuscripts are not originals.

A few guests seem to have suddenly become quite sick, requiring an ambulance. A coincidence? Too much sparkling wine? Spoiled hors d’oeuvre? Unlikely.

Auction round one

The first round of auctions starts, and the group silently observes the proceedings, without any interest for the french books. Two of these go to Eduard Miller and his associates, the third to an unremarkable collector.

They make a bid for one of the Angel paintings, but it goes to Mrs. Sanders, as does the disgusting sculpture. She seems pleased, and so does Mr. Probst, who buys the two remaining paintings.

Kek notices a man and a woman who appear to be more interested in the guests than the auction themselves, taking pictures of the high bidders. He shadows them for the remainder of the evening.

Sil’Faron is approached by the woman named Francesca, who offers a bounteous 100.000€ simply for him not bidding on the manuscripts, but he declines, knowing how important these books are for the group.

Before the manuscripts are auctioned off, there is a dinner break, and Gealach manages to confuse Mr. Probst with her alchemical arts. He is now more interested in indulging in the sumptuous buffet than the auction.

A map of the auction venue, the mansion of Katrin Frueh

Auction round two

This is the main event, the Schwaller manuscripts are up. Quite a number of bidders is missing from the room, due to mysterious illness and sudden hunger flashes.

As soon as the first manuscript, The Temple Of Man, is presented, Gealach creates a visual illusion of water damage upon the book, which scares several more bidders off.

Sil’Faron gets the high bid, with 105.000€, which leaves the group with 325.000€, and the hope that they can pay in cash or leverage some Sil’Faron´s private savings.

Having conserved so much cash, they win the bid war for the second manuscript, The Temple In Man, as well, with Francesca being the only serious contender.

She stomps off angrily, and the two frenchmen seems to follow her to the parking lot. Kek notices this, and he and Finistur decide to take a shortcut over the terrace, while Sil’Faron and Sha Naqba Imuru retrieve their acquisitions.

Trouble at the parking lot

Francesca speeds off in her sports car, completely oblivious of the fact that she is being followed by the two strangers.

Kek holds them up at their automobile, demanding to know why they took so many photographs, but the situation rapidly devolves into violence, as one of them draws a gun.
Kek drags the driver from the car, throws him against the next vehicle, and goes to cover.

The second stranger seizes the opportunity and tries to escape with the car, but she did not take into account the presence of Finistur, who has retrieved her kabbalistic blade from her Jeep. The entire left backside of the Peugot is sliced apart, including the axle. This car will not drive anywhere anytime soon.

The suspects are quickly knocked out and stuffed into the jeep´s trunk. Tanja arrives, and after a quick surveying of the situation, returns to the house to get the rest of group.

Four things are in possession of our heroes now. The two manuscripts, which hopefully contain enough knowledge to construct a working Golem, as well as two unconscious people, whom Kek suspects to be Templar operatives…

Gamemaster´s Perspective

This was an interesting session to prepare. I had four goals in mind when I did this:

  • Advance the main plot, by bringing more of the Golem related knowledge in reach of the players
  • Have only one event in a session, not multiple
  • Provide a setting where the non-violent characters can show their strenghts
  • Introduce some actual human NPCs, instead of too many Nephilim

Preparation was interesting insofar as I wanted an interesting set of bidders present, as well as the opportunity for the players to screw themselves up by being greedy. I intentionally did not make up a bidding strategy or similar things, only a list of “high-profile” bidders that would compete for the four important items of the auction.

The players showed remarkable restraint in their bidding, which allowed them to have enough money left for both manuscripts. For me personally, this meant that there was a foregone conclusion: I knew that none of the NPCs could beat the player´s on the final auction, which took out a bit of tension for me, but the players assured me that they didn´t notice. 🙂

On the flip-side, some NPCs have powerful artifacts in their hands now as well, which might become relevant at a later time. The disgusting statue is actually a focus for a very powerful Fire spell.

What I did not like was the fact that I had to juggle too many NPCs, and thus could not flesh out their characters too much. I´ll have to work on that.

Between this session and the one before, I also had solo sessions with two of the players, which advanced several side-plots that were opened up during the beginning of the campaign. I will not discuss them here, as there is too much character knowledge in these, that I want to separate from player knowledge 🙂

Nephilim – Chapter 4: Sinister Machinations

(Disclaimer: This is a synopsis / battle report of a session within ourNephilim RPG campaign. It serves to give some context to the fiction I post, as well as simply practicing writing.)

Chapter 4: Sinister Machinations


When last we left our heroes, they had successfully liberated Sil’Faron´s stasis, an icon of fertility from his first life, in ancient Egypt. All five of them are in possession of their stases now.


In the following weeks, not too much happens. The ruckus around the Pergamon Museum has died down a bit, and Sha Naqba Imuru, in his role as Markus Vogt, the police investigator, is monitoring the situation. He wants to see if any evidence turns up which might incriminate him and his friends, or if he can find any information regarding the possible appearance of a sixth Nephilim.

At home, he makesa few attempts to open or activate the enigmatic bronze cube he Harvey had given him.
It briefly reacts to a spell he casts, and one night he discovers part of a technical drawing etched into the surface of his kitchen table… Has he interrupted something?

The huntmaster arrives

Theseus has come to Berlin, and a meeting has been arranged in the court of Justice.
They can not meet atop Skaro´s tower, because Theseus refuses to take the same oath that the group has sworn.

Sil’Faron and Skaro have worked out a deception tough; Sil’Faron appears in the form of Skaro, with the aid of a spell that allows her to speak and act through him. He also takes on her metamorphosis; Golden eyes and fully grown Angel wings.

Theseus arrives and falls for the ruse.
He has returned from a hunt for gryphons in south america, together with a young Nephilim called Vashiko in tow. No pleasantries are exchanged, he announces his business in Berlin to the gathering:
They tracked a transgressor of the Devil Arcanum and want to bring him down.

Theseus demands warriors to stand ready for the time that he has cornered his prey, and he also orders Kek to find and secure an Earth plexus.

Before he and his friend can depart he is challenged by Eresh Szat, who had been watching the proceedings, to “open” his two-handed hammer.

An orichalkum short spear is revealed, hidden with the hammer´s shaft, and the judge makes it very clear that whoever uses this forbidden weapon to destroy another Nephilim would have to stand trial before the court of Justice.
Even the Devil transgressor should receive a fair trial.

Meeting Theseus in the Court of Justice
Meeting Theseus in the Court of Justice

After the greek warrior has left, Vashiko joins the group in the Dojo above the court, and with Theseus gone, she seems liven up a bit. Gealach and Finistur arrive as well, and the find out that Vashiko, going under the human name Ashley is actually a Nephilim in her first incarnation, born a mere two years ago.

Going underground

The group decides to venture out for an Earth Plexus, without Ashley, as they do not fully trust her. They seek the plexus for themselves and postpone the decision wether to tell Theseus about it or not.

Finistur has a spell ready, with which she triangulates the position of the nearest Earth Plexus, which seems to be underground, but at least within the city of Berlin.

They venture into the sewers, prepared with spells, lamps and a summoned troglodyte, where they find a breach in the wall, leading to a cavern system… and are ambushed by two horrifying alligator-like creatures, sewn together from human body parts and bones. Their smell is overpowering, and sinewy tentacles sprout from their sides.

After a brief skirmish, they follow the tunnels leading away from the canals, deeper into the bowels of the earth, where a large grotto opens up before them,.
Again the rancid stink of rotting human flesh is in the air, and another battle ensues.

This time the flesh puppets are shaped like huge scorpions, with vicious stinger tails, and a layer of armor made of human bone fragments.
Finistur manages to sneak up on one of them and cut off the tail before it can react, but as the battle starts, more enemies enter the fray.
Emaciated human shapes dash out of the shadows and attack Kek with their claws.
One of them lets itself onto his back with a nasty kick.
Isolated from the group, who is busy hacking and shooting the bone scorpions apart, he takes several wounds before the troglodyte arrives and finishes off the last of these sordid beings.

Earth Plexus cavern


As the adrenaline from the battle subsides, the group has time to take a look around. They are within an Earth plexus, Ka energy flows freely here, and some of them begin to recharge their stases.

Kek´s wounds are tended to, by magical and mundane means, and the group ponders wether they can venture deeper into these caverns, or if they should stay until their stases are refreshed and then leave…

Gamemaster´s Perspective

Again, the session took too long (in excess of 5 hours), as we started too late with the actual playing. I´m hard at work on moving the solo play and character development to actual solo sessions, which would have saved about one hour in this sitting. This hour could have been used to actually finish the journey into the caverns. (The caverns continue at 15b in the picture above, while 16a is an exit (the players could have arrived from here).

Combat also took longer than expected, especially the first encounter. 

Two notes I have for myself and the players here: Make more quick decisions, some minor decisions took very long (which is okay for important tactical decisions), which takes a bit of excitement out of the action. The second one is: Don´t argue about mechanics too long (“Can I parry the scorpion´s claw attack with my boots.”).
I made a snap decision (follow the rules as printed, which denies it) to keep the game flowing.#

On the plus side, I think everyone had fun, I learned that Finistur, the character of which I assumed it is the weakest (unfortunate rolls during character generation), is actually, if properlay prepared, an indestructible death machine with her summoned sword,armor and the troglodyte. 

Fun fact: The troglodyte summoning spell is named differently in each version of the source book I found. “Those who hit the scorpions”, “Those who hit like scorpions”. The first one was apt in this battle.. 🙂

Looking forward to the next session!