It is 1845. One hundred years before the end of the world. Central Asia has become a chessboard for the British and Russian empires – the dominant powers of the globe. A tabletop RPG campaign set in Afghanistan, where a cold war heats to boiling point. The Great Game (Ætheric Dreams)

Moderator: Bigby

Posts: 413
Joined: 20 Jul 2007, 20:04
Location: UK


Post by nemarsde »

Start time: 11am
End time: 9pm
  1. 19 March 2016
  2. 23 April 2016
  3. 14 May 2016
  4. 25 June 2016
  5. 10 September 2016
  6. 15 October 2016
  7. 26 November 2016
  8. 21 January 2017
  9. 25 February 2017
  10. 20 May 2017
New Face
Posts: 78
Joined: 01 Nov 2011, 21:19

Session 1 (19 Mar 2016)

Post by Bigby »

  • Alexander Burns (Pak)
  • Douglas Burns (Ross)
  • Mary Burns (Jill)
  • Guna Sekhar (Steve)
  • Abhishek Mandhana (Neil)
Kabul, Afghanistan - Nov 2, 1841
  • Everyone is gathered in Alexander’s walled compound in the centre of Kabul. They talk after a fine meal.
  • A small crowd of young locals gathers outside the compound. They are shouting anti-British chants. They are dispersed by Guna who recognises one of the youths. Abhishek believes that a local Imam and shaman Bahadur leads the young men.
  • Abhishek fells Abdul, one of his servants, intent on killing him while he sleeps.
  • A larger crowd gathers and builds momentum. They throw rocks at the compound. They are backed by a core of older men armed with swords. Mary, while checking on the horses, dowses an enterprising firestarter and then knocks him out with the bucket for good measure. Guna disperses his sepoys into defensive positions including marksmen on the roof. Douglas spots a cowled man in an alley with glowing cat's eyes.
  • Abhishek, with Mary's help, creates some smoke bombs. Pidi a young Hindu servant is sent in Abdul's clothes, with a hand written message by Alexander, to the British fort commander in Kabul.
  • Alexander calms the growing mob even though rocks are thrown at him.
  • The cowled man, with glowing green eyes, dramatically raises his hands and green mist rises from the ground. Douglas (supported by Guna's sepoys) takes a shot at the cowled man taking him down with a single shot to the heart.
  • Starting with a little one-off where the players stat the characters based on small bios was a good move. It helped accelerate understanding of the system and allowed everyone to add a good amount of their own creativity on the characters. I thought it was fun as well.
  • The system was solid. Really solid.
  • My only concern was that I felt getting good challenges for the PCs was difficult. You breezed through some of the harder challenges and pretty much overcame everything I threw at you with ease. The only exception was Pak's target of 21 to pacify the crowd and he still walked it.
  • I need the players to roll more 1s!
  • I liked the table configuration better than the standard one. I was able to pace and get closer to the players and face them (rather than having to go behind them). Unless there are objections I think we should stick with it.
  • I might be tempted to mix up the seating arrangements every week. I've noticed cliques form based on proximity. Breaking this up a little may yield benefits or may just be disruptive in a bad way.
  • I like having the players more involved in the direction of the game from the hook, plot and results of individual tasks.
New Face
Posts: 78
Joined: 01 Nov 2011, 21:19

Session 2 (24 April 2016)

Post by Bigby »

Cast Lahore, Sikh Empire, 5 September 1845
Lahore, Sikh Empire, 6 September 1845
3 Days North of Lahore, Sikh Empire, 9 September 1845
Open Seeds
New Face
Posts: 78
Joined: 01 Nov 2011, 21:19

Session 3

Post by Bigby »

New Face
Posts: 78
Joined: 01 Nov 2011, 21:19

Session 4

Post by Bigby »

New Face
Posts: 78
Joined: 01 Nov 2011, 21:19

Session 5 (10 Sep 2016)

Post by Bigby »

• Lady Cecil (Pak)
• Sajjan Kaur (Ross)
• Majeed Abdah (Jill)
• Dr Graham Hunt (Steve)
• Major John Hare (Neil)

Feasting with His Excellency
• Lady Cecil and Major Hare are entertained by “his excellency” and his German advisor Dr. Maierhofer.
• Majeed lurks outside – getting bored…
• Major Hare eats with gusto (Lion of a Man). Combined with his tales of hunting prowess he impresses “his excellency” who agrees to let Lady Cecil study the Megalith. Dr. Maierhofer adds a condition that he is allowed to study the findings.
• Major Hare and “his excellency” discuss hunting, including snow leopards – a creature as yet not shot by “his excellency”. They agree to go hunting in the woods immediately.

Bathing by a Waterfall
• Dr Hunt and Sajjan spend some time getting to know each other. They bathe at a waterfall in the woods.
• Distracted they do not notice attackers sneaking forward before the shooting starts. They run for cover.
• Dr Hunt suffers a slight wound and Sajjan is badly wounded. The doctor rushes to the rescue.

The Hunt
• Major Hare leads “his excellency” and his four bodyguards on a hunt. They head to a watering hole by a waterfall in the woods.
• Major Hare sees Dr Hunt and Sajjan bathing, and goes apoplectic. He makes an excuse about needing the toilet and rushes down to confront them just as the shooting starts.

• There are some thoughts that this ambush might be instigated by “his excellency”. This is soon proven wrong.
• Major Hare charges into the attack and quickly fells all six ambushers. They never knew what hit them.
• Coincidence that this is the first combat where Majeed was not present?

• Meanwhile back at the camp Majeed decides to explore one of the megalith ports where the aether is emitted. He climbs in but is stopped by a grate.
• He succumbs to hallucinations from inhaling the aether. The megalith becomes transparent and made of sharp angles. Across surfaces he sees mathematical equations. And above the megalith he sees what look like origami birds flying.

Camp Attack
• These are in fact six small fast dive bomber style flying machines attack the camp. They drop bombs as they buzz past at incredible speed.
• Majeed is in his hallucination stumbles out from the port and across the camp. Narrowly avoiding being completely blown up with a few minor injuries.
• Geriant rushes to rescue Majeed. Lady Cecil is blown up twice by falling bombs and the party’s tents are destroyed.
• The camp is in ruins and everyone flees to safer ground. Lady Cecil, Majeed and Geriant flee to the safety of the underground tunnels.

The Major Returns
• Upon hearing the sounds of bombs going off in the camp, the Major, “his excellency” and bodyguards return to camp. “His excellency” remains at the tree line with his bodyguards to “plan”. The Major rushes into the camp.
• Pipe in mouth, the Major shoots down two flyers, much to the surprise of the flyers. They retreat and then attack again in fury. The Major takes cover in the tunnels.

• Sajjan and Dr. Hunt find a good spot to see what is going on in the camp. They see the flyers attacking, Lady Cecil fleeing and the Major attacking.
• They also see twenty armed bandits emerge from the treeline near them and move towards to the camp.
• Sajjan takes some dynamite and throws it in an attempt to start an avalanche to cut them off. Dr Hunt is somewhat concerned by this plan. But it works. The twenty attackers are cut off from their attack and flee.
• Sajjan and Dr Hunt move quickly to Rear entrance of tunnels to help their party members.

• The flyers attack the entrance to the tunnel with bombs but the party is safe deep inside the granite walls. After the avalanche the flyers and other bandits retreat.
• While everyone is helping Majeed, who is still hallucinating and wounded, Lady Cecil realises he is spouting useful nonsense. As Majeed recovers enough she has him write everything he can remember down. This will be invaluable for her research.
• Using this data and analysing the geological state, Lady Cecil discovers that the megaliths grew (rather than fell from the sky) and that it can be best entered from its base or as close as these tunnels allow.

Mini Tank
• The Major moves into the tunnels and is faced with a small tracked box with three barrelled rotating cannon. As he advances it activates and quickly points the cannon at him.
• The Major has a conversation with Dr Maierhofer who seems to be repairing his machine that they blew up previously. It seems he does not want to be disturbed and is irritable at best.
• The Major retreats and starts building some bombs to take out the tank. As it advances he sets off the bombs to take it out and the party retreats to a safe distance.
• Majeed moves outside and around to hole next to megalith to attack from the rear. As the explosions rock the tunnel he falls down into the hole.

Wrap Up
• It seems Dr. Maierhofer has fled, before this happens, towards the woods. He moves very quickly for an old man. It seems both legs have been augmented.
• Sajjan however does not take no for an answer and chases him down. She knocks him out and takes him back to camp.
• “His excellency” arrives on the scene and starts to order everyone around, directing clean up and repair operations.

• Having a summary of the characters by their player at the beginning of the session was really good. It helped get everyone back into the game after a long break and got everyone thinking about character interactions.
Posts: 413
Joined: 20 Jul 2007, 20:04
Location: UK

Session 6

Post by nemarsde »

New Face
Posts: 78
Joined: 01 Nov 2011, 21:19

Session 7

Post by Bigby »

The Cecil Expedition of 1845 (aka The Tremendous Adventures of Major John Hare in the Benighted Lands of Hindoo Kush) finally made it to Kabul in this session.

Pending the fine details that hopefully someone at the table recorded, here's what I remember.

Major Hare and Hunt discovered that Majeed's father was a cavalry officer, and that his son-in-law is in Afghanistan to contend his father-in-law's last will and testament, which may alter the disposition of the estate.

We did determine the father's name, his regiment, and iirc the name of his son-in-law. (We decided a son-in-law because her claim would be more tenuous, something like that??)

Contacts in the East Indian Co also revealed that they were manoeuvring their forces against the Sikh Empire, with an invasion looming.

Lady Cecil discovered there had been disruption to the Aether trade (apart from that caused by us)?

Because we possibly did prompt the Monolith to sink into the ground, levelling the village and leaving Amir Whatshisface destitute. He and Major Hare parted ways on favourable terms (If I see you again I'll kill you), and the Major also lost greatly in the devastation. (His precious markhor trophy.)

Meaning Major Hare's trophy list is still full!
  • Markhor
  • Hyrcanian Tiger
  • Asiatic Black Bear
  • Asiatic Lion
  • Snow Leopard
  • Himalayan Red Bear
  • Barmanou (Yeti)

Opening Majeed Succeed
Monolith down
Monolith up
Camp destroyed
Party started to help camp followers
His excellency rounded up men and moved to arrest.
Sajjan talk down. Hare have gun pointing at him. Excellency backed down.
His Excellency Still in Play
Whatever happened to Dr Maierhofer?

Follow aether trail. Stop trade. Or find other Monolith.
Major Hare found out more about Majeed's Father
Took Sajjan to Majeed's little cave.
Major PRDitmous 15th Bengal Lancers
Also discovered that mother was still alive
Her son (by wife of Majeed's father) is in Afghanstan pursuing a claim to money
EIC knew about last will and testament but it has not been found
How do they know?
Diary? Turned in from loot from afghanistan retreat from Kabul.
EIC only recently returned.
EIC knew about relationship with Majeed's mother.
British building up forces to attack Lahore.
Staying at Alexander Burns compound!
New Face
Posts: 78
Joined: 01 Nov 2011, 21:19

Session 8

Post by Bigby »

Sajjan - Worried about Lahore. EIC. Russians. Not going to end well. Worried about treachory. Who do EIC have in their pocket? Shutdown aether to prevent the way...
Major Hare - Does not support the EIC. Friends with Sajjan. Would want to stop the fight. Although would not kill Brits. Still wants to stop aether. Hunting list appalling. Lost Markhor. Wants Majeed to inherit.
Dr. Hunt - Enjoyed time in EIC. Not animosity. EIC good or bad? Reasoning. Profit. A little suspicion. Will EIC come calling with demand to return.

EIC are in Kabul. - Aether trade? Size of mission to Kabul seems large for what it houses.

His Excellency
Russian build up in North 20-40
British build up in South
Russians / Persians in Kabul
Dairy and Majeed's Family
British / Russian Spies
Dr Hunt EIC Recall
Dr Hunt Info about EIC Intentions
Dr Hunt vs Sajjan Marriage

Early Oct? 1845

Major Hare. EIC info + dodge draft.
Colonel Cromwell Massey 40s
- (Samuel John Gurney Hoare, 1st Viscount Templewood, GCSI, GBE, CMG, PC, JP)
2ns Lieuntenant Hugh Wheeler
Set up an orderly station

Sajjan escorted by Nasir Al-Din Qajar. Young dashing prince from fairy tell.

Cecil aether trade. Urchin diversion (steals purse). Majeed gets. Majr Hare scares 3 burly men away.

Encampment is 1000 strong. Bigger than Expected. Starys for lunch. Nasir asks her to stay, but she reefuses stayying with Europeans. Introduction Nasir to Colonel?

Orderlies recruited. ECI take over compound next door and link with permanent stone fortifications. Colonel asks to see Major.

Cecil gets aether and location of monolith in moutain range of Kyber pass / Jahalad Pass.

Majeed goes looking for thugs on majors orders. Gets abducted. Beaten. Returns.
Sajjan beats up a thug and brings back to the compound.

Cecil Aether Accident trying to find out something interesting about Aether. Strange movements under her skin.

Interogate the thug. Pig. Cut off finger. Then talks. Grey robed man. Funny accent. Tatoos on his arms. Paid to abduct Cecil. Feed him breakast and tea then send on the way. Don't bother us again.

Doctor dealing with orderlies.

Meeting with Colonel, Major and Cecil. Colonel offers job but hare refuses.
Majeed and Sajjan follow trail to grey robed man. Discover book but abandoned recently. Majeed steals book. Lost work of Aristotle Pytahgareanism. Mysticm and Maths linked together. Parallels with monoliths. Priceless. Other two books similar.

Prince Nasir speaks with the Colonel. They exchange words. Nasir hints there is trouble to come tonight and the British to leave to be safe. Nasir offers escort. Sajjan went with prince for evening supper - to find out information.

Persians leave camp and attack Kabul. Party flees compound to EIC. Majeed leads the way. Vantage point. Persians driving afghans east towards the EIC. Sporadic fighting around the French and EIC. Building.

The party stops at a vantage point then gets through a clear part of the fighting into the EIC compound. Major Hare comes up with a plan to sortie and use exploives to blow up a building (shock and awe) and afghans. Majeed helps. It works.

Sajjan arrives (just as the explosion goes off and gets covered in dust) and gets into the compound just as the explosion happens.

Really good question to ask on rolls is "how are you going to do this?"
New Face
Posts: 78
Joined: 01 Nov 2011, 21:19

Sessions 9

Post by Bigby »

Session 9 (25 Feb 2017)

• Lady Cecil (Pak)
• Sajjan Kaur (Ross)
• Majeed Abdah (Jill)
• Dr Graham Hunt (Steve)
• Major John Hare (Neil)

15th Oct 1845, EIC Compound, Kabul
The story starts with the players surrounded by a growing mob of confused and angry Afghans. The city of Kabul has burst into violence. Nasir Al-Din Qajar has swept through the city with his mounted army driving Afghans towards the EIC compound.
Lady Cecil climbs to the top of a wooden lookout post built on the roof of the main compound building. She is looking out for troop movements. The numbers of Afghans outside grows to over a hundred. Everyone fears that the compound will be overrun.
Sajjan and Dr Hunt speak to Colonel Massey. Sajjan tells the Colonel of her fears regarding the Persians, led by Nasir Al-Din Qajar. This is troubling news. Dr Hunt asks the Colonel if there is an escape route. Even if it is for the growing number of wounded. The Colonel admits that there is a tunnel, but assures the doctor it will not be needed.
Majeed, trying to help the Major, sneaks into the ammo stores and attempts to get more by theft. Two guards catch Majeed, and in spite of his attempts at quick taking his way out of it, they knock him unconsciousness and thrown into a cell.
Major Hare orders a fighting withdrawal from the walls. Colonel Massey, fearing the same but with the knowledge of a secret weapon, countermands the Major by ordering his men to deploy Aether grenades. On his command, his men throw grenades into the surrounding streets. However, they do not explode but simply release a little Aether into the air. For a moment, there is silence as the Afghans take cover. Then the faint sound of rockets emerges from the silence. They grow louder before there are huge explosions all around the compound. Houses and streets are devastated. The Afghans suffer huge casualties and with their morale broken, they flee into the dubious safety of the city.

The Persians Arrive
The Colonel asks Dr Hare to parlay with them. Majeed and Sajjan join him outside the compound. The Persians charge the group. They brace themselves for death.
In her rush to help her friends, Lady Cecil falls down the stairs of the lookout and is knocked unconscious. Dr Hunt rushes to her aid and revives her.
Sajjan shouts out traditional words of parlay. Majeed waves a white parasol in surrender. Major Hare braces himself for a glorious death. The Persians halt their false charge, acknowledging the bravery of the group and the willingness to talk that it represents.
Nasir and Sajjan talk. Nasir wishes the EIC to leave their compound and Kabul immediately. Sajjan persuades him to wait until sunrise.

Sunrise and Surprising Developments
At sunrise an Ironclad Airship, the HCS (Honourable east india Company Ship) Pegasus, emerges from the rising sun. She is a repurposed ship of the line, with a metalled armoured hull covered in open gun ports. Her sails are set full, and the ship quickly arrives on the scene.
Covered by the Pegasus’s one hundred guns, a company of marines, the Major’s old unit, descend from the skies on rocket packs. The story of what happened to the “disbanded” marines becomes clear.
From this new position of strength, the Colonel re-negotiates with Prince Nasir. The East India Company are free to stay and trade. So long as they reduce their garrison and accept the Persian assurances of safety.

Drinks on the HCS Pegasus
Major Hare’s old marine officers invite him to drinks on-board the Pegasus. Much rum is consumed with resulting headaches in the morning.
The captain of the Pegasus invites Sajjan and Dr Hunt join him and his officers for dinner on board the Pegasus. After the meal, Dr Dunt negotiates authorisation for him to act on behalf of East India Company to bring about a peaceful treaty with the Sikh Empire. The captain provides signed documents providing this authorisation.

Return to the Alexander Burns Compound
An unsteady peace returns to Kabul. That night, the players return to the Alexander Burns compound to gather there things for the next stage of their journey.
Lady Cecil has nightmares. She imagines a world made from pure Aether populated by Aether people. She is cut up. She is burnt alive in every way imaginable; self-immolation, lava, at the stake.
FIRE! The cry goes out from Fionna. Sajjan rushes to the room, throws open the door and is assaulted by a wave of fire and flame. The whole of Lady Cecil’s room is on fire. And yet Lady Cecil lies asleep on her bed untouched. Sajjan leaps into pull Lady Cecil free. In doing so, her hands are badly burnt. Majeed, quick thinking as ever, maybe late to the party, but always well-meaning, throws cold water all over Sajjan. Dr. Hunt manages to wakes up Lady Cecil from her deep sleep.
Lady Cecil explores burgeoning new powers over fire. The rest of the party pack for the journey ahead.

17th Oct 1845, Jalalabad Pass by Air
The players persuade the captain of the HCS Pegasus to take them to a Megalith that lies in the mountains above the Jalalabad pass. The ship drops them off close-by in the middle of the night (fearing to be seen by any natives in the area, as the Ironclad Airships are still a secret). The players wait in the darkness until the sunrise.
As the sun rises the players see the Megalith. Bodies lie on the ground. Over top lie the bodies of thousands, maybe tens of thousands of rats, all aligned pointing to the Megalith.
Lady Cecil moves closer to the Megalith and attempts to communicate with the Megalith. All the flies lying on the bodies rise as one and attack her as a swarm.
Dr Hunt quickly creates a smoke bomb with water and herbs. Major Hare rides to the rescue. Sajjan throws Dr Hunt to the ground. Lady Cecil harnesses her new found powers over fire and devastates a small area killing everything within a fifteen metre diameter area. She stands in the middle of his devastation completely naked.
The players determine that this Megalith may be malevolent. That maybe the Megaliths are not joined. That they have separate agendas. Or maybe something just went wrong. Broke. Failing.
Malevolent Megalith. Different megaliths. Different factions. Or just something gone bad? Gone wrong? Machine failing.