The grimoire heist

This is a short game of Miseries and misfortunes, taking between one and three sessions; three only if characters are created from scratch during the first and if play is also slow or sessions short.

  • Play on weekends, either Saturday or Sunday, with time friendly for someone in Europe with family. We’ll start when it suits the players. Please let me know which weekend days suit you. We’ll aim for biweekly or weekly schedule.
  • Play online through Discord or a similar service.
  • Rules pre-knowledge is not necessary, but does help.
  • Previous knowledge about the setting is by no means necessary. Think of Paris and musketeers.
  • You can bring in an existing M&M character, should you have one.
  • It is possible to participate in only some of the sessions, thought it is doubtless more rewarding to take part in all.

The idea

A foreign nobleman, known as Jean de la Suède, has married a local noblewoman, Antoinette. They live in an apartment with some servants, and it is a strange apartment, given their status and wealth, being an old boutique in an area dominated by craftsfolk. Your interest lies in them having a certain occult tome, Rauðskinna by Gottskálk. During character generation we will figure out why you are after this tome; to discredit the owners, to sell it, to learn necromancy from it? But the grimoire is what you want.

What happens in play

  • Character generation; most of it can be done asynchronously, but if not, we’ll do it together.
  • During or after character generation we’ll figure out your motivations for wanting to get your hands on Rauðskinna. We’ll also figure out the motif for your character group and who Jean and Antoinette really are. Part of this will be public information, part will be secret GM knowledge you may be able to get your hands on by creative or effective play.
  • In actual play, it is known that the couple hosts a saloon once every d6+1 days or so. A character with sufficient reputation could certainly get in or even invited. But more likely you will try something else: break in, threaten, beat up, just honestly buy the book, etc.
  • Every day, the player characters whose obligations exceed their wealth have a chance of feeling it. I’ll roll a die of fate every day for every character. The clock is ticking. When the die of fate tells that now things get interesting, I’ll roll a die of fate for every obligation of the character to see which get acute, and continue doing this until the character gets their finances in order, one way or another.
  • I presume the play will first consist of information gathering. There are people who know them, or you can spy and shadow, and maybe there are official archives with relevant information. Their family relationships can certainly be found out somehow, somewhere. But all of this takes time and there is no guarantee you can make use of any particular piece of information. How deep and where will you dig, and how successfully? And will it be helpful?
  • At some point you will create or stumble upon an opportunity, or exhaust your ideas about how to prepare more, and will choose to take action. Or maybe the financial obligations or other stress is too much and threatens to break you. In any case, at some point you will decide to act, I hope; hard to succeed otherwise. You may want to formulate a plan and then try to pull it through. We’ll play it out in detail and see what happens; maybe you succeed, maybe not, maybe there are consequences.
  • At the end, we will figure out what kind of consequences there are to your character in the near and far future. Good grist for the mill for future play with the same character. Roll for mortal coil for those who used it.

Gamemastering method

This section is completely voluntary reading, of interest to those who might want to compare and contrast with different methods, or who would like to understand this particular short game better.

The point about gathering knowledge might sound like I have a secret cache of relevant information hidden somewhere, or maybe a trail of breadcrumbs. I do have some amount of hidden information; I know the layout of the building, why they have it, where the grimoire is, and a bunch of other things I have deduced during and as a consequence of the character generation session.

However, I do not know to what extent any of this information will turn out to be useful. I do not know if you can get your hands on it; above, I just wrote down some obvious avenues of investigation that occurred to me, but they were me thinking about how the game world functions. The family trees of nobility are certainly archived and collected by a number of people and maybe even some institute, so sure, if you want to know some of that, go ahead and try to get your hands on it. I don’t know if it will be useful, and it is not my job to figure out whether it will be. That we will see in play. The players decide where to go and how much to pay for it in terms of time and money.

The pressure to act (financial, mostly) and any opportunities to act are likewise not calibrated by me. They are what they are. Maybe you all have luck and rich characters who can take their time. Or maybe you have bad luck and poor characters who have to act, right here and now, or otherwise things will only worsen. We will see in play. I will not be providing any particular opportunities to act, but if you make room for such, I will check if they do occur. If you find where Antoinette’s parents live and stay on watch, there is a fair chance of seeing them, for example, as one would imagine. Whether that is useful or not is, again, up to player ingenuity and something to be seen in play.

The process here is not that I, as the all-knowing game master, prescribe what works or not. Rather, we discuss how the world works and figure out how difficult various tasks should be, and then figure out how to roll for it within the mechanical framework of Miseries and misfortunes. This is a means of keeping the game world credible and sharing our information about it at the same time. It also allows characters and players to succeed and fail on their own merits, rather than on gamemaster whim.

The grimoire heist

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