Sunday 11 February 2024

Into the Woods with Devilry Afoot

Devilry Afoot is the new folk-horror game being developed as the next Irregular Wars title. Followers of this blog may have seen the gradual process of painting humans and monsters over recent weeks and months, but throughout that time, there has also been extensive playtesting with 47 experiences in the game recorded so far from players spread across Europe, North America and East Asia. The rules are still being amended and tweaked, and it is hoped that next few months will see many more games played so that an enjoyable balance can be ensured between challenge, fun, simplicity and complexity.

There are currently 11 scenarios in the draft rules, although I would expect there to be at least one more. This, the first after action report to be shared publicly, is an account of one game playing the “Lost in the Woods” scenario.

Lost in the woods
They knew that they should not have been awake at such an hour, let alone out of doors, but neither child could sleep. It was as if something called to them through the woods which seemed, at this hour, so alive; something irresistible. When the children’s absence was noticed, the alarm was raised and a search party set out in their wake.
 
For this scenario we used a search party of four hunters: three characters and a follower. Second from the left stands Nathaniel Swiftsure Esq, a much-respected member of the local gentry who hides his alcoholism behind an outwardly moral edifice of probity. Nathaniel carries a sword and is accompanied by his follower, the young Mary McLean, a servant in the Swiftsure household, equipped with a flintlock pistol worth much more than she is.

To their right stand Sergeant Malone, a veteran of the war and skilled huntsman, carrying his trusty sword and a heavy horseman’s pistol, the dragon. Malones experiences on the front lines has left him questioning the very existence of God – a dangerous thought in these troubled times. Keeping a close eye on the rest of the party is the devout Reverend Cooke. Bearing a holy item and a lantern, Cooke secretly worships to old gods and can summon a familiar if the need arises.

The table is laid out as an open woodland edged by a river. At the centre is an old pagan altar, and two lost innocent children. The innocents’ actions throughout the game are automated, determined by their situation.

Beyond the altar are two bogeymen, in this case, living scarecrows, out to snatch away the children.

To further complicate matters there is also a pact devil – a wee leprechaun – resting by the river, hoping to lure the innocent astray.

The scene is set. In the darkness, the innocent, while unaware of the bogeymen, will always be drawn towards the pact devil. If one of them makes base contact, both the leprechaun and his victim will be whisked away to the otherworld. Meanwhile, the bogeymen will be erratically lurching through the woods looking to cause harm. The hunters need to rescue both children from harm in order for the scenario to be successful.

A game, or hunt, in Devilry Afoot takes place over a number of turns. During each turn, all models on the table will have the opportunity to be activated one or more times. The order in which models are activated in is determined randomly by drawing initiative tokens from a bag. Each character has one token added to the bag, while different types of monsters have multiple tokens added. Hunters have the chance to activate twice each time their token is drawn, monster only act once. However, bogeymen have four tokens – whenever a bogeyman token is drawn, both bogeymen activate with their action determined by a d10 dice roll, so the monsters might get up to all sorts of mischief in between hunter actions.

The first turn saw the four hunters move up to put themselves between the bogeymen and the innocents. One of the bogeymen took the bait and started off towards Swiftsure (as the nearest human (with Mary approaching from its flank). The other bogeyman was still nearer the innocents and so shambled off after them. The wee girl wandered absent mindedly towards the pact devil, but the boy caught sight of a bogeyman and became alert.

Swiftsure ran up to the closest bogeyman, delivering a powerful blow which caused two wounds to the beast. Mary only managed one action, so could only move closer, not actually provide any real support.

When the innocents activated next, the alerted lad moved passed the girl, making her aware of the monster threat. Both now moved towards the river bank and safety.

The second bogeyman kept on towards the innocents, passing through a patch of hungry grass.

Rev. Cooke started moving towards the bogeyman in the hungry grass, but then got other ideas and diverted towards the pact devil.

The innocent made it to the safety of the river bank (technically moving off the board and completing the scenario), while Swiftsure and his monstrous opponent took poorly aimed swings at each other.

That bogeyman erratically fled from the combat before Mary could bring her pistol to bear.

Rev. Cooke sidled up to the leprechaun and struck a deal, gaining a wound, but also revealing a new vice – not only is he secretly a witch, but he is now also a backslider. Should he gain followers in the future, he’ll risk losing them if they discover his secrets.

Swiftsure and Mary pursued their bogeyman, Swiftsure making ineffectual swipes, but the bogeyman being just as rubbish in the melee. Mary managed to fire off a shot, causing another wound to the monster.
But then the bogeyman lashed out, brutally taking out Swiftsure in a single swipe. Mary was left stricken, and alone.

Malone, who had dithered about in the woods up to this point now swept in as a hero, firing off his dragon dispatching the monster in an explosion of straw and tattered cloth. The following turn, he spun around and engaged the second bogeyman who had emerged to his rear. In a struggle so quick and fierce that no photos were taken, he managed to eviscerate that monster too.

In the post-game sequence, Swiftsure managed to recover from his wounds without suffering any permanent injuries. Rev. Cooke walked away with an improved constitution, while Malone took the lion’s share of the experience. The party earned a bounty on each of the bogeymen, and an extra reward for bringing both children back to their village unharmed.

8 comments:

  1. Mark from Thailans12 February 2024 at 05:31

    Nice report :). Is “Folk Horror” a thing ?

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  2. Mark from East Asia12 February 2024 at 05:38

    In Coke’s pact with the Leprachaun, do you mean Cooke went from 2W to 3W strength in return for taking on another potentially dangerous secret ?

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    1. He gained an experience roll which resulted in him progress from 3W to 4W, and yes, also rolled for a new secret as a result of the pact.

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  3. Splendid AAR. Might be time to get some suitable miniatures painted up. Any idea on a possible release date?

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    Replies
    1. Aiming for October... šŸ«£

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    2. Very apt. Thanks for letting me know.

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  4. Will there be scenarios that use an urban setting?

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