The Light that Never Warms (All for One: Regime Diabolique) – Campaign Report 3

This is the third installment of reports for my current face-to-face campaign using Triple Ace Games’ excellent All for One: Regime Diabolique ~ a game of supernatural intrigue and swashbuckling action in a dark reflection of 17th Century France. This campaign emphasizes mystery, dark magics, and verbal sparring, but includes a dash of chasing and escaping mixed with a healthy portion of wine and revelry.

This session also ran a bit short as we took some time to conduct a character review, to ensure that each PC was performing as expected and editing them where necessary to match their emerging personas, and established roles in the group. We followed this up with a general review of the rules, discussed some optional rules (such as Sanity), before launching into the day’s adventure.

Session 4: For King and Country?

Plans and Preparations 

With the sun threatening to rise over the rooftops and set the foetid streets of Paris to reeking with the sledge-hammer stench of day, the musketeers, Avery Brooks and Jean Archer, settled down to issuing commands, filling their bellies with wine and succulent food, and planning their course of action versus the black bastards at the roadhouse. Of utmost concern in this plan were being right, and making themselves look good. Their third companion was still away at his father’s estate in the North, but his lackey, Renault – the former inquisitor and third member-in-hiding of the decimated secret occult fraternity that embroiled everyone in this mystery arrived with news of several popular and status-seeking nobles deciding to flee the capital early in the season due to ‘health issues.’ From his information, it was fairly easy to deduce that like their poseur-countess hostess from the night before, other social climbers at court were being pressured by the soldiers in black to take risks of some kind. No doubt these risks were similarly nefarious in nature. While the two musketeers schemed and considered, the three lackeys – once the larder had been raided and the swordsmen provided for – set about with preparations of their own.

Xavier, the alchemist, began to prepare an elixir of vitality which would sharpen the eye, speed the mind, and harmonize the humours for enhanced physical ability [Potion: Skill Enhancement: Fencing +6]. Tired, but soldiering on, he could not think of a palatable name for the concoction, and so opted to spend a little extra time making it smell and taste delicious so that he would not have to waste time persuading the wary to drink it down. Sometimes, big, brave soldiers can be worse than children when it comes to taking medicine.

While Xavier was slaving over boiling pots, pestles, and simmering concoctions brewing two batches of his elixir, Renault went off to speak with men he still trusts among the Inquisition regarding the return of Xavier’s seized financial records and business documents, and to ascertain more about the curious goat/dragon sigil that they had uncovered. He further promised to speak to the glass blowers in the city to see who could have produced the small vial with Xavier’s maker’s mark upon it for the sleeping draught the hostess had been compelled to try to dose them with. This investigation ended up taking some time and becoming quite involved, so he will not return to our narrative until Session 5: For King and Country!

Vincent, the homomancer, took care of the mundane chores generated by the great demonstration of mental power by the musketeers, but stole a few hours to work undisturbed in the laboratory to seek aid from friendly spirits for the endeavour to come. His first meditation and beseeching of beneficial spiritual assistance took the form of a spiritual investment which would pierce the veil of night [Spell Effect: Night Vision]. He had the spirits he coerced confer this boon on himself, and Xavier for the time it takes the sun to go from its lofty, noon-time position, down into the depths of night, and back up to the ascendancy of noon again. After resting for an hour, he attempted a more challenging incantation which would coax the spirits of the night to shield them from prying eyes and ears [Spell Effect: Skill Enhancement – Stealth +8]. This incantation proved harder. In the first hour of chanting and exhorting the spirits of the world around him to come it his aid, it was difficult to focus, and harder to channel the flow of the mystical forces which bind, permeate, and penetrate everything. Being of strong will, and turning his mind away from the distractions of the lab and boisterously melodic planning coming from upstairs, Vincent soon began to make his will known, and after two more hours of chanting, had sealed a bargain with the unseen forces to cloak the passage of both himself and Xavier, until sunset of the following day.

Avery and Jean, both men of action, but both preferring the force of their personalities to do most of their battling for them, hatched a plan where they, Xavier and Vincent, and 6 fellow musketeers in need of some fame and glory would swoop out of the crimson light of the setting sun, and descend on the roadhouse like the wrath of God himself. They would kick in the door as the villains were sitting down to the first food and ale of the evening, and school these so-called soldiers on the proper way to treat a lady in King Louis the XIII’s France!

Upon hearing the plan, Xavier and Vincent decided to break away from the musketeers as soon as their assault started, and seek out the leader of the black-cloaked men themselves. Believing the evidence pointed not at one homogenous group of soldiers, but rather two wings of a larger organization (one martial and represented by the goat orientation of the group sigil, and one mystical and represented by the dragon orientation of the sigil) they felt it best if they developed a two-pronged assault…  and were doubly glad that Vincent took the time to enhance their ability to pass without notice, and that Xavier had brewed up a tasty method of ensuring that their swords would strike true in combat this time.

The Rise of the Red

The four men headed off to the hotel de Monsieur Treville to recruit their intended allies and get their gear, but Fate had other plans for them. Upon arrival they discovered that the entire unit was to report to the court of the King to serve at an important ceremony. Used to these sorts of last-minute things, there was no cause for alarm, until they arrived and learned through whispers of outrage and frustration that the ceremony was the worst possible event for a King’s musketeer…   one of the Cardinal’s garishly dressed, and dim-witted lackeys in his so-called “Guard” was to be personally awarded a medal for valour by the King’s hand for services to the Crown, the Church, and the Nation.

Once in place and the ceremony underway the musketeers stood at attention in their full dress uniforms under the baleful glare of the furious Monsieur de Treville as the story was related to the assembled courtiers.  Worse than being forced to endure such an indignity, was the discovery that the Guard being so honored was none other than the cretin they had insulted at the ball, and at the Cardinal’s gate. This man, so lowly in their estimation that they had not even bothered to learn his name, was about to recount to the King how he and his men, killed two men attempting to assassinate the Cardinal and rob the Church treasury. In the battle, they chased a third man to his death in the waters of the Seine, and to ice the cake, managed to save two overwhelmed musketeers while they were at it. The nameless buffoon in scarlet livery? The King was now relating his name to the whole court: Gerard Thomas Andre Michel Fontaine. Now a Corporal, given the history of such things at court, all knew that it would be just a matter of time before “Fontaine” would be promoted. Curse his black heart!

The award ceremony, a mere 20 minutes long, seemed to drag on interminably, but to make defeat’s sting all the sharper was followed by Monsieur de Treville taking the musketeers aside to bemoan the end of such a cherished organization, speak tearfully of his sudden need for retirement, and of course… the inevitable haranguing. Each musketeer to a man began to clamour for his attention – each wishing to be the one to seek new glory to restore the honour of the musketeers and their noble patron – the incomparable Monsieur do Treville!

None were so passionate and forceful in their expressions of fealty and certitude as Jean, whose ferocity is legendary in the unit. As he first shouted down all the other voices and dared them to steal pride of place from him, unbeknownst to him, Vincent’s lackey, Xavier slipped him a fragrant handkerchief to wave and snap at his opponents, and wipe his passionately perspiring forehead. The fragrance was a potent musk [Potion Effect: Skill Enhancement – Intimidation +4] which took his manliness to truly supernatural levels. At the same time, Avery, the smooth-talker, calmed those who were being cowed, and got them behind Jean’s passionate plea [Team work bonus for Diplomacy: +2], while Jean’s lackey Vincent confounded and disorganized those few who would try to horn in on their plan and risk ruining its simple brilliance. [Team work bonus for Con: +2]. With their combined efforts, they were able to divert the counter-productive arguing which could have had them there all night debating which among them would get to plan something vaguely grand and impossible, and instead, present their absolutely grand and totally concrete plan.

Once Jean had Monsieur de Treville’s undivided attention, he yielded the floor to Avery and turned his own attention to keeping the musketeers attentive and quiet as the plan was revealed and permission to act was sought.

Pitching their plan as the surest course to win glory and simultaneously earning the gratitude of the Cardinal while showing the Cardinal’s Guard to be feckless fops foundering in floods of foolishness, Avery demonstrated that he and Jean, with but 6 men, would take the fight to the 20 blackguards hiding in the roadhouse plotting against the brightest lights of the nation, and crush them into submission. Their defeat will reveal the nature of the actual plot against the Cardinal, and reveal the spies and traitors within the Cardinal’s organization, thereby returning the praise of the people to the King, and his noble guard where it rightfully belongs. At a key point, without prompting or pre-planning, Vincent slipped close to Avery’s side and at the perfect moment slipped the Villain’s brutalizing letter of threats to the Countess into the musketeer’s hand so that he could present its damning evidence to Treville as the cap stone for his fortress of unassailable logic.

So moved was Treville by this performance (Diplomacy+Evidence+Teamwork) that he swore on the spot that if they were to succeed he would ensure they would be rewarded handsomely by the King himself in a ceremony that would dwarf that of today. However, no stranger to passion and peril, Treville went on to note that should the plan fail, he will disavow all knowledge of it, and further claim that those who participated are not musketeers at all to distance himself and the unit from further disgrace.

Treville was not the only one moved by Avery’s words. In a passionate plea of their own, the two musketeers rescued by the doubly cursed Fontaine and his boot-lickers, pledged their very lives to the success of the plan. Not thrilled to add to their problems by taking these two failures with them, but unwilling to lose either momentum or turn down a brother in arms, Jean gripped them painfully by the arms, and ensured that they knew that they would indeed be sacrificing their very lives should this plan fail.

Buoyed by the praise and cheers of their comrades, the two musketeers, their two lackeys, their six chosen compatriots, and the two dishonored musketeers who had begged them to participate, the group headed into the dark of the Paris streets bearing steel, torches, and righteous fury. Armed to the teeth , and clad in their finest uniforms, nothing would stand in their way…  All for One, and One for All!

Session 5: April 28, 2012

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