Saturday, February 16, 2013

Actual Play Report: Hollowpoint in 43 A.D.

Yesterday, I played in my first game of Hollowpoint. It was a hack based on 43 AD. We played legionnaires of the Ninth Legion tasked with finding out what was hidden in a system of caves and report back to our prefect. The leader of our small unit was Lucius with long hair and a big axe (should have been a clue that he wasn't an upstanding Roman citizen after all), Mercator (a shady person who refused to wear his armor proudly), Vibius (a rather ordinary legionnaire) and Cornelius (a blood-thirsty legionnaire who delighted in killing Celts).

First we more or less stormed into a village of the Bracari and tried to find someone to give us directions to the cave system. While Lucius and Cornelius terrorized the villagers, Mercator posed as a native being harrassed by a Roman (V.). Mercator found a sympathetic ear and got them to tell him how to reach the cave. Also, he found out that degenerate, cannibalistic humans lived in the cave.

After leaving the village, we travelled to the caves. They were cramped tunnels leading into the very earth. Lucius, a giant of a man, was a bit uncomfortable in the small tunnels. We had to fight our way through waves of the degenerate tribe, while Mercator was looking for a way into the throne room of their chieftain. When we arrived there, Lucius wanted to attack the chieftain alone, but Cornelius assisted him. Mercator found a woman chained to the wall. Cornelius and Lucius defeated the chieftain and Mercator freed the captive.

She told us that the chieftain had made a deal with a Roman. A Roman with a distinctive strand of white hair. A description that matched our prefect. We took her with us and returned to the surface. Our commander Lucius was gravely wounded and revealed to us that the woman we had freed was his wife. Now he wanted to take her farther into tribal lands instead of returning to our oppidum. Cornelius was shocked! A traitor in our midst. He ran the Celtic woman through with his pilum accusing her of witchcraft and having enscorcelled Lucius. Enraged, Lucius wanted to choke Cornelius to death. From the hills, Celtic warriors with woad-painted faces suddenly stormed our position. Cornelius mercilessly cut down the traitor, then turned to face the warriors. Mercator died under the assault of the fierce Celts, revealing a faded tribal tattoo that identified him also as a Celtic sympathizer. Cornelius ordered Vibius to retreat, but instead, he threw a pilum at Cornelius' back. Wounded, he had to watch helplessly as Vibius was killed by the Celts for his misplaced loyalty to his dead comrades.

Cornelius escaped to the oppidum, carrying the secret knowledge of the prefect's betrayal with him. In the camp, he reported back to the prefect explaining about the two traitors Lucius and Mercator, how they all had fought and won against the degenerate tribe. But of course he omitted the hints of betrayal by the prefect. The prefect ordered Cornelius to be whipped as punishment for abandoning Vibius and retreating.

Meanwhile a legate has arrived at the oppidum to inspect the troops, Aponius Gavius Sulla. He was accompanied by his trust bodyguard Falco. Aponius had met Cornelius at a bacchanal back in Rome, so it was only natural that Cornelius sought out the legate as soon as he was free to roam the oppidum again. He asked for an audience and Aponius graciously granted his wish, mostly asking Falco to talk with Cornelius. Then the legate commanded Cornelius to take Falco and Ignatius, an other legionnaire, to gather evidence on the prefect.

Aponius met with the prefect suggesting a small feast to be held in the evening down by the river. There he entangled the prefect with words and distracted him, while Falco, Ignatius and Cornelius talked with the night watch. The watch confessed to having let someone leave the oppidum at night, but hadn't seen who it was. But he had acted at the order of his optio. The optio confessed quickly. The three legionnaires brought the optio to the feast. Commanded by Aponius, he confessed to letting the prefect out of the gate. That was enough. Aponius commanded Cornelius and Falco to take the prefect outside the gates. Once there, Cornelius implied to the prefect that it would be honorable to fall into his own sword in order to protect the honor of his family. The prefect begged Cornelius not to tell anyone about his dishonor. Cornelius agreed not tell anyone about his shame on this day.

After the prefect had committed suicide, legate Aponius took over his post as leader of the oppidum. Cornelius received a commendation for his efforts. Falco, already being the right hand of Aponius, didn't request any additional reward, of course.

Note: The prefect is not named in this account, since Cornelius of course kept his promise.

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