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!