Today I ran my first session of Esoteric Enterprises at our local osr-con.
The player characters were:
- Janne, a doctor who never really finished med-school, runs an illegal street clinic and wants to do some interesting medical experiments.
- Bob, a criminal and outspoken anarcho-primitivist who lives in his old van and has a weird old flame thrower that is supposedly “holy”.
- Beata Monstråle-Adler, a mystic who prays to her dolphin patrons to channel the powers of the secret masters on Sirius B.
Since we run the games on our con in a Flailsnails fashion the party also included two veteran characters who had been on many previous adventures:
- Krelka, female ogre level 3 fighter with a pet tardigrade the size of a guinea pig.
- Murv, level 4 fighter with a collection of weird magic objects.
Based on my preparations I had made up three job offers for the characters:
- Tracking a thief and returning a stolen sculpture. The client insisted that the pc’s shouldn’t touch the sculpture with their bare hands.
- Breaking into the shrine of the Temple of Secret Wisdom to steal The Green Book.
- Locating a girl who had associated with a local street gang before going missing.
The players decided to go with mission no 3. I told them what they knew about the gang, namely that they were called “The Skulls” because of tatoos featuring a laughing skull and that they were often seen downtown and in the neighbourhoods surrounding the hospital.
The party took Bob’s van, drove around the relevant parts of town looking for someone wearing the gangs colors, pulled him into the van, pacified him with a cattle prod. blidfolded him and tied him up. After bringing him to Janne’s street clinic they started interrogating him. At first he was quite tough and told the pc’s that they would have to pay with their lives if they didn’t let him go. But when Krelka brought out her pet tardigrade and told the captive that it would eat his toes he broke down and spilled all his secrets.
The gangster explained that the gang has a mask that gives the wearer the ability to answer questions that he would not normally know the answer to. But this takes a toll on the wearer who becomes dull and passive even after removing the mask. Therefore the gang would pay some desperate person to don the mask when needed. Now, the boss of the gang had been involved with a girl for some time, but when the girl broke up with him he decided to punish her by making her wear the mask.
The pc’s asked their captive about details on the gang stronghold before going to war. Then they went down into the subterranean network of sewers, storm drains and transport tunnels that connect many of the underground complexes hidden beneath the feet of unsuspecting civilians.
Now, I thought this would become an absolute TPK. The pc’s were walking straight toward a guard with a tripod mounted machine gun, in a tunnel with nowhere to take cover. And if they somehow survived this, they would be sorely outnumbered when they entered the gang stronghold. Well, it didn’t turn out that way.
As the party advanced through the tunnel towards the gangs hidden bunker the passage was suddenly flooded with light from a powerful electric lamp. A voice, amplified by a loud-hailer, told them to retreat or be fired upon.
Murv, the inter-dimensional fighting man, quickly pulled out a little glass bottle and threw it in the direction of the light. It conained a Fireball in liquid form. After a die roll for the throw, a rough calculation of throwing distance and an estimation of how the sphere of fire would be deformed by the tunnel, we reached the conclusion that the inferno did not engulf the pc’s and did not make the fuel tank of Bob’s flamethrower explode. But the conflagration did reach the guard at the end of the tunnel.
The electric lamp went dark as it was destroyed by the fire, and when the party advanced they could see the smoldering corpse of the guard. They retrieved the machine gun, found some keys on the guard and opened the door he had been stationed outside. Warm light, loud music and the smell of food and cigarette smoke greeted them into the gang stronghold. However, the gangsters had seen the assault on cctv and were not taken by surprise. The seven gang members currently in the complex had taken cover and grabbed their guns. This could still end with all the pc’s dead.
The pc’s won the initiative roll. Beata, the weird old new age lady, delivered suppressive fire with the expropriated machine gun while Bob, the lanky young thug let his flamethrower spewe a torrent of flame into the gang hideout. (Luckily Bob’s player rolled a bad attack throw and happened to point the flamethrower towards the concrete roof, so it did not set the rooms on fire.) Murv rushed in, ducking beneath the fire, and stabbed a gangster to death with his sword (+1). After this I felt it was reasonable to make a morale check for the gang, which they failed, sending them fleeing in panick.
The time was nearly up for our session so we wrapped it up summarily. The pc’s found the kidnapped girl, in good health. They also found 1000 euros in cash, some drugs and expensive lab equipment, some guns and amo and a weird looking mask made of some leathery material.
The players seemed to have enjoyed the game quite a lot and expressed interest in playing an Esoteric Enterprises campaign.