Last night, I played a one-shot Black Hack game at No Land Beyond, a gaming joint in Baltimore. Justin Sirois, local author and game maker ran four of us through a few scenarios based on his campaign module Beneath.
My dirtbag thief, Nimbleshanks
The party consisted of:
- Ethan Solheim, a cleric (played by Dan)
- Morg, a conjurer (played by Ash)
- Nimbleshanks, a thief (Me)
- and Oleg, another conjurer, and his familar Fenris the Wolf (played by Brian)
So, the story begins in the town of Crag Lee, which has become known as a hub of creativity and innovation, but has recently experienced a rash of disappearances – people just head into the forest north of town and never come back. Those that remain have started blacking out mirrors and windows.
One of these missing persons was the owner of a local mine and associate of Baron Lennox. Lennox hired the party to go after his business partner and hopefully find her so the mine can be reopened.
The adventurers leave immediately, in the middle of the night. On their way out of town they pass a bonfire into which townspeople are chucking all manner of mirrors and reflective surfaces. Strange things are afoot in Crag Lee.
In the northern woods, the party meet Hannah, a mercenary who’s looking for her missing brother Cameron. Introductions are made, and while Hannah and the adventurers discuss what she knows about the situation, movement is heard from the south. Everyone looks and sees… this guy has set up an easel and has been sketching the group the whole time. Before anyone can ask him what the hell he’s doing, two more dudes reveal themselves; like the first the guy, they’re dressed in paint-smudged smocks, but instead of brushes or charcoal, they’re holding spiked clubs. PLAY THE FIGHT RIFF!
Morg attempts to dispatch the dude with the easels using the spell “black vomit,” but is only partially successful – instead of blasting the artiste, the Morg’s vomit just dribbles into a puddle on the ground. The intended target attempts to thwack Morg with the folded-up easel and critically fails – the easel flies out of his grip and lands several yards away. Ethan rushes over to stand on top of the easel and recites a prayer to bless his companions. Oleg sics Fenris on the two goons, but the wolf is an unable to land a blow on either. Both goons rush Ethan, who manages to fend off their clubs with his shield. This leaves them vulnerable to Nimbleshanks, who backstabs the bejeezus out of one them.
At this point, two more goons emerge from the woods to tussle with Hannah. Morg sort of judo throws the artist into the puddle of black vomit, which begins dissolving him. Ethan whiffs with his mace, and both he and Nimbleshanks take clubs to their respective domes. Oleg zaps one of the newly arrived goons with a magic missile, which allows Hannah to escape and take out one of her attackers with a crossbow bolt that explodes into a tangle of thorny vines. Nimbleshanks knocks down the goon he didn’t gank with a leg sweep and handsprings away.
Much to Ethan’s dismay (he’s a cleric after all), Morg reanimates the goon Hannah just killed and orders him to attack his former compatriot. The zombie slays him, and Ethan finished off the remaining goon with a mace through the face.
To Ethan’s continued dismay, the reanimation spell lasts for a hour, so the zombie hangs out and chats with Morg. Turns out, the zombie was formerly George Kilroy, leader of a gang of renegade artists that turned to crime. Zombie George gives Morg his sketchbook, which is full of well-rendered depictions of violence and depravity. Everyone else chills out for the rest of the night to recuperate from the fight. The scene ends with Morg carrying out Zombie George’s last wish to be “turned into art” and impales it to the easel.
Bright and early the next morning, Hannah leads the party further north to a staircase leading down. The group takes the stairs down,
After 20 stories downwards, the stairs open into a hallway carved out of salt-encrusted stone. The hall terminates at a dead end with mirrors affixed to eastern and western walls. Hannah does something to the western mirror, causing it dissipate into a doorway through which everyone hustles through.
On the other side, the party finds themselves in a large chamber full of pews and and sparsely populated bookshelves. In a far corner, a robed figure sits in an armchair facing another mirror. Hannah points out a ledger laying open on a lectern – “Cameron” is written on one of the pages, in his hand, indicating that he had been this way. The person in the robe becomes aware of the group and greets them; Hannah identifies them as Michael, who ran the bookshop in Crag Lee.
Michael requests that everyone lay down their weapons, saying that they won’t be needed in paradise. Everyone is naturally reluctant to disarm. Michael insists and begins summoning waves of larger-than-normal sized frogs. PLAY THE FIGHT RIFF!
Fenris quickly gobbles up a brace of frogs, but they turn out to be super-poisonous and he dies. Hannah is swarmed by amphibians, but Ethan beats back the frogs that leap at him. Morg uses magic to draw blood out of Fenris’ corpse and form it into projectiles that absolutely wreck Michael, who collides with the mirror he had been gazing into at the start of the scene. The mirror cracks and all the frogs turn their attention to Michael, who has begun rubbing his hands over the broken glass as if he could smooth it out again. The frogs attack him; one even manages to crawl into his mouth and Michael starts suffocating.
Hannah, now free of the frogs herself, implores the rest of the group to protect Michael – she’s convinced that he has information on her brother’s whereabouts. Nimbleshanks tip-toes through the frogs and whack’s Michael in the back of the head with a Bible that he had in his inventory for some reason. The frog flies out of Michael’s mouth and Michael himself is knocked unconscious. The rest of the frogs, thinking Michael is dead, retreat back through the mirror.
All in all, it was a fun way to spend three hours. This was my first time playing with the Black Hack rule set and I dig the loose, improvisational nature.