Monday, October 10, 2016

Deshi Spearmen & Creating Otherworldly NPCs

The tabletop group encountered a new faction this last session - the Deshi Spearmen.  Interaction with these creatures should be incredibly difficult as
  1. They are plant creatures
  2. Their language is a combination of rustling leave, wind sounds, and subtle movements
  3. They are really really not human
However, through clever use of the "Recovered Memories" mechanic and some serious luck (a player recovered a memory about being lost in the Great Desh Forest and being rescused by strange forest folk about 5 real life minutes before they actually even knew the Deshi were in the dungeon) there was much awesome interaction.

Deshi SpearmenTags: Stealthy, Plants, Organized
Type: Walking ImpalerOrganization: Small Group
Description: Small, entagled, briarsInstinct: to spread
HP: 8
Armor: 2
Attack: thrown thorn spear or thorny lash ( d8+1 )
  reach or close, piercing 1
  Call creeping vines
  Compost the dead
  Release soporific spores
Known For:
  Immunity to piercing weapons
  Hatred of open flames

The Deshi spearmen do not think like mammals, but they are intelligent.  They do not have names as such, but groups often refer to themselves in "tribe names" that resemble locations from which they hail, such as Oakflower.  They do not have concepts of politeness or imagination and speak only in absolutes.  The one abstract concept they have is "Fairness" - something for something, like for like. They fear very little, but when they do encounter something that is a threat their tend to deal with it by ignoring it and will simply not recognize it.  If attacked, however, they respond with untamed ferocity.  They seem to be a collective, but not a hive mind - the concept of the individual is irrelevant to them; but it is the individuals that often cause strife and woe.


So how the hell do you interact with and role play plant folks that are have a different view of the world and needs and desires that are completely out of alignment with the normal adventurer?  Deer are more of a problem to their young than a rampaging patchwork demon. I decided that I run this that communication, since they had someone who could at least partially communicate with them, could only be as though they were 2.  You couldn't ask anything more complex than a 2-year-old and the answers you got back were the same.  Subtlety was not possible, nor complex concepts. As someone without kids, this seems reasonable (those with kids may disagree, but just go with it).

I also chose the words and actions carefully. When the party identified a threat that the Deshi already knew about, they simply did not respond or (and here is they key) refused to look at the threat.  I translated things into forest and nature terms; things were described as versions of creatures familiar to the Deshi's native land (even though the party don't really know much about the Great Desh). It created an otherwordly and somewhat difficult situation that the group seemed into.

Eventually, though, the party got things sorted, returned a group of Deshi that were out exploring (and had gone dormant - because that is another thing they can do because they are plant creatures), and made allies with these creatures.  They have another safe spot to start adventures from - at least until they lead the Deshi back to "The Sun".  Praise the Sun \o/

On a final note, one of the party accepted healing from the plant people.  It worked ... but now he is part plant as the fruit grew and took over a bit and he now has bark for skin.  Permanent +1 armor.  The character is a barbarian type, so it works out. :)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Session Report [T3] The Party Sorts Itself

This one is a bit late - from 2 weeks ago.  I've been thinking about the post because the session was almost all role playing and inter-party conflict.  Most than the usual the session seemed to be about the characters and party of characters with no memories figuring out who they each were, and the bloodbath that ensued.

What it came down to is that one character, in particular, was expressing as most definitely nasty and evil.  The player was running with it full tilt and the other players were, out of character, letting M.F. (the player running Proximo the Asmodeau-worshiping ex-gladiator) know that Proximo was on thin ice.  After the previous session where there was conflict between Proximo and Aster (run by the player R.R.) I thought it was settled, but it grew into a ferocious character-vs-character battle!

Two characters, Proximo and Aster, died in the conflict. Most Dungeon World folks will probably be aghast at this. Dungeon World is a narrative game and not really designed for characters to be fighting amongst themselves in deadly combat and surely not for unexpected deaths.  But it worked with my group.  Worked well.  In fact this isn't the first character M.F. has had that was "taken care of" by the party.

Normally inter-party conflict bogs down RPGs that are "old school". Bickering brings things to a halt.  But my group seems to thrive on it.  More than that, this seemed a necessary outcome of characters with no memories being formed through play; backgrounds emerged and players embraced what was happening.  It was amazing!  And the players were all having fun.  This wasn't a grudge match between players, it was actually character conflict that helped define the party structure and, dare I say it, morality.

Normally there are all sorts of alignments within a classic FRPG style party.  I loathe alignment systems - I feel they often act as a restriction for players or, worse yet, as an excuse for game-disrupting behavior.  And when they are not causing problems they are being ignored. Some folks apparently have good luck with alignment, in my 30 years I never have.

So what happened was a party of characters determined what their group was all about through actual play!  Not having pre-generated background allows players to create an organic group that, assuming they survive, has similar overall feelings about the world.  Killing NPCs without cause is bad. Worshiping nasty-soundings gods is bad. Trying to sabotage each other is bad. Not because of some sort of pre-determined implied social gamer contract, but because there are consequences for doing it.

In short, it was fucking awesome.

As for actual game highlights, the party found their first serious NPC and picked up a quest they were into. The party discovered Heinrich, the ghost of a gentleman adventurer who in no uncertain terms did not like the language they were using around the female member of the party. More on that in a moment. They also learned some things about the world and the place they were exploring.  Heinrich asked the party to bury his skull under a yew tree in the gardens near the city of Haven.  He let them know that they were exploring The Dungeon Titanicus; he and his companions had been doing so on purpose.  They learned a bit about The Terg (a sort of guardian), the Journe (the bug men they encountered before, although they didn't get the name) and a few thoughts on the Fire Thieves (also no name - the red-skinned fellows with combustable blood).

At the time I wasn't sure how I felt about the session, but after thinking about it for a few weeks, I've decided it was really fantastic.  The "recover your memories" thing is working (although I need to work on the "nightmares" part a bit) better than I had hoped. I'm getting a solid feel for using the DW system for the style of play I want and where I want to change things up a bit.

After the next session (tomorrow) we are taking a brief break to play some 2eWHFRP run by another member of the group.  This will give me a bit of time to back up and go over what has been written and flesh out more of Dungeon Titanicus.  I'm wicked excited :D  This is the best gaming I've been part of in my long time being a role player.

All Hail the New Golden Age and Praise the Sun!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Session Report [O3] Avoid the Smells

Running an online session nearly back-to-back with a live session in a persistent campaign environment is a bit weird.  One party seems to nearly always be stumbling across the remains of the other party, so I decided to keep things interesting to actually conjoin their timelines a bit - in other words some encounters I'm keeping even if they are fully played out because frankly, it is more fun that way.  Ahh fun. Also, I remembered to take notes this time.

The Party
  • Feener: wields the "sweet-ass silver serpent blade" and generally tries to keep it together
  • Gramps: really enjoys shooting things with his flintloque - a lot.  seriously he is power-crazy
  • Armon: cool and slightly aloof, he is doing his best to prove he isn't the Manchurian Candidate
  • Goblin: bald, wide-mouthed, and a bit stone-agey with a dash of mystical knowledge

Action Highlights
  • The party spent some time investigating the rotting corpse of the hulking brun - it is now covered in blue-green mushrooms.  Some holy water didn't do much to make it smell better.  What it did do, however, was convince the party to explore the hole in the ceiling on the side far away from the wretched lemony stink.  Armon put himself in harm's way to ensure that Feener could climb up, and fresh bonds were beginning to be formed.
  • The cavern they climbed into appeared to be hollowed out through natrual caustic action of some sort of huge worm.  This was based on both the smooth "cuts" into the stone, the acrid smell, and the mashed up guanno on the floor.  After some poking about Goblin found an old skeleton, but at the same time the Giant Mottled Cystworm returned!  Feener got kicked through the side passage and saved by Armon.
  • Goblin snuck back close the othe cystworm to claim a prize he had identified just as Gramps blew a hole in the side of the thing, guts and flesh chunks spilling everywhere.  The GMC took the damage and let loose with a high-pitched howl as it fled deeper into it's lair.  The party considered following, but the acrid smell made them decide to turn around.
  • Exploring one of the passages the party disocvers a series of cages filled with long dead oddities ... and get a feeling something is wrong.  With a sudden rash of minor thefts the party realizes that that aren't quite seeing something - Armon gets the first glance of a small lizard-like humanoid creature wearing a white cloak.  A sudden rash of violence and the crack of the flintloque later the party is feeling up an invidble creature.  Feener gets his hands on a black book of some sort that is clearly not "of the light".  He brushes away invetigation and tucks it in his pack ... everyone is wary.
  • After much role playing an uncomfortable conversation, the party frees a trio of humans that have been "fixed by the masters".  They have been here a long time, are very hungry, and miss their dead "tree friends".  The party gets into some clever action with physics and breaks them out.  Both of them.  I mean just the one.  Once free, he gets a bit ... intense.  They name him Vern.  He calls himself MetaVern.
  • Ignoring some stairs down, the party moves past a portcullis and beings to examine a strange construction of wood and bone, upon which fire sprites are dancing.  Vern gets into a conversation with someone behind a door.  "Sounds like a Fire Thief ... and a dead one at that.  I don't know much about ghosts."  MetaVern makes several uncalled for suggestions that the party ignores.
  • The party opens a metal door and catches the salty scent of low tide.  The only way they have to go is now either Down (and they want to go Up) or into one of the smells.  As time was running low, we decided to call it for the evening.
GM Notes
There was some fantastic role playing with this session.  Four players, even online, is much easier than seven face-to-face.  Nonetheless, in both session I can see a spot where I need to help out - Bonds.  The bonds system of Dungeon World is AWESOME, but having everyone create their own from scratch is a bit difficult.  I'll be making a "Bonds cheat sheet" to help folks out.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Session Report [T2] Chaos Ensues

I had 7 players at my table this Sunday and it was, in a word, chaotic.  Normally I run for a group of 4-5 at a time.  I've run 7 before, but not in a situation where some folks haven't been in ages, the game was on pause for a bit, and the weather was freaking awesome and we played after a mega-grilling sessions.  And oh so much delicious beer!  It was fun, but took a bit to get on track.

The Party
  • Van Damage: A halbard made of light and a pure Hollywood attitude
  • Duchess: a bloody noble with a bloody cudgel and a bloody righteous attitude
  • Offender 3 "Fen": inquisitive with religious overtones
  • Ian: brash and leader-like with half a dozen personalities to help him out
  • Proximo: a former gladiator with a nasty streak and dark intentions
  • Astor: jeans, t-shirt, manacles, and prayers to Mother Mary and Jesus
  • Feldmutze (aka Fishknuckle): dering do, a wide-brimmed rad hat, and a ruined machine gun

Adventure Highlights
  • The party awoke with the usual sore backs and numb limbs in the large grey chamber.  This time, however, VanDamage caught a glimpse os somrt large mechanical thing retracting into the ceiling mists as though they had just despoisted some of the party mermbers.  
  • The party interacted and argued with each other, Ian asjking why even the new party members (Astor in particular) didn't remember what happened last time.  After much foolishness and several stumbles, the party managed to make their way down into the field of statues (now nearly all destroyed except for a statue of Redhook, Blotch, Harmon, and an unknown figure giving everyone the finger).  Duchess fell a few times but used Fen to establish his domninance.
  • As the chracters made their way up the cliff, they encountered a huge bulbous placental dome over the summon circle that adorned the cetner of the room.  After a bit of debate, VanDamage's halbard split the thing in twait revealing the last of the patcwork thing attempting to bind the with sorcerer's statue head.  It was whispering to each of the characters in turn to bring him another party member.  No one fell for it.
  • Then Fen got a clever idea that he knew how to summon a planar servant.  His blood, plus the blood of Proximo, and some hard core incantations that he claimed to remember were going well, until they saw the bit of circle that VanDamage had pried out (it looked valuable).  Fan did manage to summon something ... inside of himself, which burst out and attacked Duchess wearing Duchess' mother's face.  Filthy patchowrk daemon killing ensued.
  • Zigfried: chef clothes, chef hat, an improvised halberd, and a strong desire to create a new master dish!
  • After much conversation and ignoring all warnings from Ian, folks went back into the lovely lady and tooth fountain and had a few drinks.  The end result was Duchess with a mouth full of too many teeth (gross!) and VanDamage a white goo puddle on the floor.
  • Braun: wielding a morning star made of starlight and a fine selection of cheeses, his hat is definitely cool or in other words fly.
  • The party explored the mostly explored Gathering Pool area and adjacent rooms.  There was much discussion of fiddling with buttons, but in the end everyone was distracted by the Green Devil Face and the strange dead red-skinned humanoid (with those obscene yellowish pouches on his cheeks). After some puttering, a way past the Green Devil Face was discovered, and the party ventured up some stairs.
  • They found a strange construct made of scraps of wood and bone with sprites of fire dancing around in a mildly hypnotic pattern.  After some exploration, they determined that someone was hiding behind one of the doors.  Astor was almost able to communicate with the creature. A good solid door bash later turned the situation into a debacle - a frightened red-skinned man, surprised by the sudden door bashing accidentally speared Duchess, who was gutted and dead.  Proximo charge din shouting about vengeance and killed the shocked creature in a single strike, but fell down bleeding from a gut wound from the barbed spear.
  • The Traveler: a silver spoon and ornate dagger are his tools.  A careless attitude and dislike of dirty dirty magic and writing is the feather in his cap.
  • Astor got two of the party members to hold down Proximo so he could use his scalpels to "fix him up".  In reality he jabbed and perforated internal organs and ended up killing Proximo. However, Proximo made a deal with Asmodeaus to come back.  The dark daemon granted him life at a cost, but the ability to devour flesh of humans to recoup that cost.  
  • Promixo came back and attacked Astor, things went poorly and he went down again, but somehow managed to survive!  Then there was much interrogation byt the rest of the party, a "sorting out" of the details of the situation, and in the end Proximo agreed to not kill anyone.
  • One of the doors led to a cavern with natural pillars of stone and broken wooden bridges.  Feldmuts caused a ruckus by turning a huge wheel and dumping a deluge of rats and then water into the cavern floor (some 30+ feet below hidden by mist).  The things splashing around down there stopped giggling and moving about for a bit,  In the end, the party decided this was too dangerous for the moment and backtracked.
  • After dealing with some portcullis and a strange hallway that looks to be celebratory or possibly like advertisements the party explored a menagerie where tings were dead ... other thana strange trio of brother that had been "modified by the Masters".  The party freed the slaves that seemed to have numerous lanaguges in their pocket and continued on.  NPCs they didn't kill?  WHAT?!
  • The game ended with the party exploring some sort of viewing gallery and discovering a book that appeared to be some cultural discussion of what the Brothers called "The Mokk" - apparently they are a bit rough and often act as slavers.  Also, the lever to dump fire into the chamber of ash was found.  
  • Full of burgers, beers, and role playing, we called it a night.

GM Notes
Seven players is too many when the party doesn't have a complete goal!  However it seemed to still be a good time for everyone.  I'm going to continue to keep neutral on this as long as everyone has fun.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Session Report [O2] Learning the Ropes

Foolishly, I didn't write down details of this right away, and running an online game is a bit trickier to take notes as I'm already using all available screen space.  So, sadly, I don't have details.  I didn't even ask my players to send their character info so I don't have names.  Perhaps the rope-related-situation here is me learning how to report on an online sessions?  I was hoping that I brought my notes on this trip to be able to add details, but I have not, so share this post as written I shall.

The Party
  • Feener: returns and brings a few friends along.  
  • Someone has a flintlock (first glimpse of new technology for this crew)
  • Armon: had a tent, which he used for excellent comedic effect during introductions.
  • The other guy was there too!
  • How the hell did I forget to write down character names?

Action Highlights
  • The party wakes up and is disgusted at the stink of a huge rotting thing in the arrival cavern, the (now) usual discovery of the sand being ground bone and ash, and immediate investigation of the strange slots that look into another room.
  • Feener freaked out that the previous 15' cliff was now a 15' pit.  Also, a slime trail leading away from corpse in the cavern went into the field of statues.
  • In true adventurer fashion, statues were smashed.  They discovered 2 much newer statues that looked like a mighty warrior and a pirate.  Hmmm...
  • The party engaged in a violent battle with a pair of smaller versions of the Brul!  One of them had statue hands it was attacking with.  Also, strange magics made trustworthiness a bit complex.  And a character bit the dust.
  • Goblin: lumpy with green-hued skin, the old man named Goblin was a fine replacement.  The player had a better feel and got into it!
  • After bloody battle, the "snot nest" where the brul was sleeping was examined, eggs smashed, loot gathered, and equipment lost to avoid caustic damage of the mucus excretions.
  •  The sexy fountain room was explored; Feener now has beautiful teeth and full HP from that delicious water.  The door seemed to have disappeared, so the search for a way out was sexier than expected due to the explicit nature of the various bass relief on the walls.  Dirty dirty!
  • ...and here is where I forget exactly where we ended.  My fault.  Good story, I know.

GM Notes
  • I must write adventure notes within 1 day after the session ends. I must write adventure notes within 1 day after the session ends. I must write adventure notes within 1 day after the session ends.
  • Previously I had imaged that the primary method for defining characters and the world will be from Recovered Memories, but the Spout Lore move has some great opportunities.  I need to improve my flexibility and allow this to be an effective tool for helping to define the world and the characters.  I can keep things mysterious while allowing some things in.
  • Shedding the old methods of play (classic GM style) will be important for success.  Dungeon World is working it's magic on me without even trying.  Play to Find Out What Happens ... fine!  Actually I really like this.  Letting go of the world a bit more and letting the players play in a huge shared environment, my cues and loot helping refine the way players (and therefore their characters) 
  • A house rule for burning XP (with a story) to change die results is about to happen. Since I'm not using the standard character creation method some folks have a bit of dice-based disadvantage, but the XP gained by that can be used later to beef things up.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Session Report [T1] Where exploration and taking chances pays off?

This is the first full-fledged face-to-face session of the Dawn of Eradu.  It was UNBEARBLY HOT in the nerd loft, so I'm really excited for fall to get here so we can game in comfort again.  It was a good session but only 3 players (which was probably good for heat-related reasons).

The Party
Two returning characters and a new soul awake in the horrors of the underworld ...
  • Ian: talks to folks who aren't there and isn't really sure of using his pristine great axe
  • Proximo: from the Gladatorial Pits he comes ready to wreck things with his sweet cestus
  • Blotch: freshly minted this fellow sports both a blood-crusted warhammer as well spectacular boots lined with the fur of the vicious gorilla-snake
Action Highlights
This might get a bit long ...
  • The party awoke in the familiar cavern only to find that in their absence others had made changes.  After much loud debate on how to best scale the cliff and piling up sand, the indiscretion and a really bad watch roll brought about a terrible thing ... the Brul
  • The brul scampered down the cliff, huge wads of flesh piled atop each other and held together with tight leather straps and held aloft by terrible multi-jointed legs.  It split open in strage places, rows of wicked teeth biting and gnashing.  At one point Proximo was completely consumed, a moment later Ian's axe split the thing in twain, taking part of Proximo with it.  The thing's rotting citrus musk stank up the joint ... the party looted the leather straps and got out of there.
  • Atop the cliff they found a multitude of statues of what appeared to be adventurers.  Those closest to the cavern were worn with age, but as they moved father away the weathering was less, until they found from whence the Brul came.
  • The party found a large room with a huge summoning circle in the floor.  They also found an white marble statue of a wizard standing partially outside of another smaller summoning circle. Wanton destruction ensued and the statue was broken apart - it bled a thick black goo from the wounds.  Parts were tossed in the big summoning circle.  In the corner was the Brul's nest.  Examining it proved difficult as it was caustic, but some strange goods were looted.
  • A bit more exploration and there was an incident with a strange fountain.  [Details are left out for other players to encounter just in case they are reading this].  Blotch met an untimely end.
  • Redhook: with a mighty flintlock pistol his strut and swaggar, and of course his accent, marked him as a pirate of high renoun! He missed his best friend, Priate Dog.
  • The party recovered from the incident and a new character added, the party discovered a large room where pipes from the ceiling poured water into a pool with a channel that flowed out of the room.  There was also a door and a strange alcove with ... Green Devil Face!
  • As the party approached, they encountered some semi-invisible ladies in the pool clothed only in mist and a lack of shame.  Redhook threw down a magnificent courting ritual.  Shenanigans with Redhook, Proximo, and the water ladies while Ian and his "friends" examined the Green Devil Face.  Apparently it was breathing.
  • Behind the other door was a strange thing that was trapped.  [Details withheld].  While Ian attempted to rescue it, Redhook removed that possibility with a single shot from his flintlock.  "Better the devil be dead than plaugin' us later.  Aye".  There was much frustration.
  • During the "shenanigans" the water had splashed a bit more than usual and a secret door was located.  The party went in and after fiddling with dials and levers and knobs (Redhook blindly jabbing and dialing asking "Be this the dial, Ian?") the water turned off ... and the screams of three ladies being washed away filled the air.
  • With the water turned off the party made they way down the channel, which sloped downward and led to a metal ladder.  So they choose to descend.  At the bottom they hear the sound of something wicked tearing apart the water ladies.  They see some sort of huge cat-like thing prowling around sharp crystals and licking its bloody green chops.
  • There was swashbuckling rope (made from torn pants that now left Proximo wearing short-shorts) firearms, vicious claws, strange powers, and in the end three characters facing the black gates of death as the creature fell and died.  As fate would have it, Redhook was the only one that didn't quite make it.
  • VanDamage: A halbard infused with the power of Light, a sack of M.R.E.s, a pair of foil blankts, and a full-tilt karate attitude of super-bro awesomeness topped with a corn-cob pipe and a brown bottle shaped like a woman with a dead pixie in it.  Sudden Death was quoted.
  • The party rested a bit and then continued on, evnetually encountering a squad of bug-men in power armor doing some sort of chanting on top of a large ziggurat.  There was a bit of a standoff, VanDamage attempting to encourage the "Little Bro" to get some respect, while Ian began communication.  It was tense, the beg-men has pistols of some sort.  In the end, the bug-men were able to communicate, asking "Whom do with you band?" repeatedly.  There were mentions of the wicked "Fire Thieves", some fey tribe called the "Gutterhumps" and the abominations these folks called "The Brotherhood of Sin."
  • We had to shut down because of the time and the heat, but it was a fine session! Bonds were made, memories recovered, and a good time had by all.

Updated Memory Recovery Rules
The rules have been updated from the first posting.  These have been used in actual play.

When a character attempts to recover a memory, Roll+XP Spent:
 Result  Effect
The referee will ask a question that you get to answer to recover a lost memory.  Gain a memory and move toward remembering more of who you are.
7 - 9
The referee will ask another player a question about your character.  The player of the character the memory is about may choose to accept (the character gains a memory) or not accept the memory (no memory is gained). If the memory is less than flattering or creates a hindrance of some sort and you accept it, that player that stated it gains 1 XP.  If the memory is negative and you declare it false, you do not gain the memory and the referee makes a move.
6 - 
The referee will ask about something terrible and the outcome must be terrible as well; the referee may adjust the results. The character gains either a point of Darkness or a debility (player’s choice).  If the character eventually comes to terms with the nightmare the character removes the nightmare and gains 1 XP. Do Not Mark XP for rolling a 6- for this move result.  The nightmare does NOT count as a memory

GM: How long were you imprisoned and why?
Ian: 3 years - because I was involved in a sacrifice ritual where we bled out a child to gain power.  It didn't work.  Of course I'm completely innocent of this crime.

What the fuck?  Awesome.

We got the first 7-9 result, so I asked another player about Proximo
GM: What is Proximo's best memory from childhood
Vicious Player: When his aunt would beat him because she was the only one who could stand to look upon his shameful existence.
Proximo: that is simply untrue!

The XP was spent and none gained anything.  I felt this was a solid memory for a gladiator's life and could get some serious role playing opportunities, but players' choose as they do.  That is why I made it optional.  

GM Notes
I feel I need to work on 2 things:
  1. improving the flow of the game.  I think that now that some folks are deeper into the environment things will naturally start happening, but I need to add a little motivation to give the players more than just "figure this shit out".  It works great in concept, and maybe it was the heat, or maybe that we come from your classic style of D&D play, but I felt it was a little forced from time to time.  I have some ideas - some very Dungeon World ideas.
  2. I need to get better at making dangerous foes dangerous.  I fell into the D&D hack and slash trap - the battle with the giant tiger-thing should honestly have been a LOT more difficult - as in some Lost Souls should not have been able to beat it without more clever tactics.  Again, this is entirely on me as I'm learning the system.  It'll get there.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Session Report [O1]: The Lone Lost Soul

I had my first online game last night.  It was a bit tricky because I am travelling for work and there were complications, but it happened.  With somewhat notice, I only had one player, but it worked out fine. The random generation and some role playing produced:

  • Feener: wielding a mighty lucerne hammer and a painted egg (that when blown through creates a terrible whistle) this solo fellow was practical.  He had some blue chalk, a bit of string (plumb lines?) and a bag of goat jerky.   

Waking up for the first time in this campaign is tough enough, but now imagine it alone.  Some highlights:

  • great exploration of the cavern - discovered the hole in the ceiling and the "glass bowls" that are the remains of some caustic goo
  • figured out that the sand covering the cavern was charred and ground bone
  • had many painful adventures trying to get up the cliff opposite the ceiling hole
  • attempting to use his lucerne hammer as a pole for pole vaulting - it failed and now he has a regular war hammer with a pointy bit on the handle
  • found a bunch of strange "holes" carved into one wall that lead to another chamber of some sort, but not one he could get to just yet
  • got clever and started piling up sand against the cliff face
  • discovered a buried iron chest - rusted and corroded with age that contained the Silver Serpent Sword (more on that in a moment)
  • After making a god-awful bunch of noise Feener caught the first glimpse of the large beast that lives beyond the field of statues (up on the cliff).  Several huge spidery legs that at the end split into a hundred filaments and threads touching everything obscenely.  It accidentally put out the torch tossed up on the cliff then fled back into the darkness
  • After some puttering a strange antlered spirit attacked, but our game time was up!

After the failed pole vault, Feener sat in contemplation of his situation and spent XP to regain a memory:
GM: You were so proud at that moment, why was that woman screaming?
Feener: I had completed the quest in which I returned our hero's Hammer to the village, but the woman was screaming because her son did not return with me.  I had dared him to quest as well, and I feel terrible because his death is on my hands.

This is the kind of stuff that I can completely dig as a GM.  The player is defining "alignment" through action and reaction.  Love it!

GM Notes: The hardest thing I've discovered is for me to talk less and encourage the players to talk more and be more descriptive.  When my player said "I do a circuit of the cave" what he meant was "I want to probe the edges of the cave looking for another way out".  We had a brief aside discussing using the narrative to drive the game - it was a good conversation for both of us.

It was another short game, but in these busy times we do what we can.  I feel that 2 sessions have already inspired me to get working and flesh out more and more details of this environment.  The farther away from play things are the lighter the notes, but as the adventurers explore I'm embracing the "Leave Banks" and "Play to Find Out What Happens" mentality a bit more than in the past.