Thursday, February 4, 2016

Player Created Rumors and It Begins! [ACR-001]

... in which the players derive the action and the GM improvises like a sonofabitch ...

Player Created Rumors
When the Aldsburg Chronicles campaign first started I introduced the idea of players giving rumors of potential adventure plots.  It took a bit of getting used to (both in style and form) but in the end everyone got there and it added TONS of style and flavor to the campaign.

The last few session of the Aldsburg Chronicles were the players tracking down and battling a daemon they let loose to get parts to cure a curse so they could be more effective in hunting for a giant ruby rumored to be under Juniper tower but to get there they had to find a secret gate and OHMYGODIMEXHAUSTED. Something happened and whatever rumor turned into a crazy campaign that was NOT episodic.  It was fun, but not quite what I was hoping for.

So enter Aldsburg Chronicles Reboot. After a discussion of how the campaign had changed and the players could keep their characters (or make new ones if they wanted, which 1 player did) I started the Rumors again. Let's see how round 2 of the player-driven campaign works out.

The Rumors
As always, the players lay out "what their character heard" and I'll adjust a bit to make sure things flow.  What we ended up with:
  • The Cult of the Black Goat has been causing nightmares all around Aldsburg - it is affecting all manner of folks and causing endless woe.
  • Children have been going missing not only in the Warrens but also in Bridgingate - a strange green residue is the only clue.
  • A mysterious figure known as the Gambler has been seen around town, followed but a small heard of ever-changing goats.  It is said you can bet family members against your weight in silver ducats.
  •  At night a Ghost Tower can be see to rise in the great ruined piles on the far side of the sky girder.  Screams and cries are said to be heard echoing across the ruins. Some say the tower is the result of a wizard's curse and the only way in is with a feather from the wizard's griffon familiar who is still alive and leads the pack of griffon that infest the region.
  • A massive sinkhole has opened in the ruins - some say it is an inverted tower!  Old Crelly said he wandered down and saw the Prison of Glass.  Obrin thinks that the legendary Doktir Flemming, a Lord of Scions, created the tower and it is coming back to mirror the Ghost Tower.

The Adventure
While we did make sure everyone had a protege (with the exception of the player who made a new character that has the potential to be super awesome - see below) and re-established the campaign setting, I wanted to make sure we got some gaming in. 

So i picked a rumor, wrote down 3 notes, and started my favorite thing in the world - GM IMPROV! From the rumors it sounds like the group wants a mystery adventure.  As any seasoned GM knows these are fucking tough to run, but what the hell, right?  No guts, no glory.  No risk, no reward.


As Alois returns from another session of "Soup not Swords" (a join mission with Our Holy Mother to feed the poor in the Warrens) a swarm of urchins follows him into the Murder of Crowns tavern.  They ask "Uncle Alois and Uncle Boreas" to tell them the story of the "End of the 8th Age".  This was a not-too-subtle move to let the player tell the story of end of the Worldgod Campaign to the players who weren't part of it ... but in these characters ... it we pretty cool.

As the sotry finishes and the group begind discussing the rumors about town and what kind of adventure they should get up to, a dark and oily misasma floods into the tavern.  The front door bursts open and a hulking pile of shaggy grey tatters storms in.  As dust and filth spray from the thing it let's loose an animalistic bellow and charges into the bar, striking anyone and everything in it's path.

In fairly short order this THING kicks the fuck out of the surprised party.  Everyone is unconscious or dead (with massive 4d6p+6 point wounds!) and somehow - SOMEHOW - Alois, Favored Cleric of the Unfettered Raven, is going toe-toe with this thing.  At this point I'm loving this combat.  The players are all in shock at the violent character deaths, I'm acting sort of surprised and ho-hum about it (you wanted a harder game, right?) and the player with Alois won't back down and contrary to his normal behavior, is arguing rules with me.  He wants to win!  As the death blow from this goat-deamon (who suddenly manifested spell abilities) strikes down Alois he and the rest of the party wake up from this terrible shared nightmare.

GM NOTE: I actually managed to pull of the "it was all a dream" bit.  Second time in my GM career.  This was even better than the first time because I had 5 players along for the ride.  W00t.  Enough patting myself on the back.

As the party gets together they find out that everyone in the Secret Lair (they need to come up with a cool name for their secret headquarters) was affected.  Everyone is ok ... wait ... oh no!  Micha is dead.  Woe and weal!  After some investigation they find some sort of patchwork thing under his bed that had to have been placed there.  Alois sends his contact Jezebel out to find information for him.

Now that the nightmares of the Black Goat are a real threat, the adventure has been set.  Jezebel returns with some info and the party decides that they should follow that exclusively.  Into Callistown - endless urban sprawl and shanty mining town craziness.

I had to end the session there because
  • It was 6pm
  • I didn't have much more fleshed out
  • A LOT of beer had been drunk by all
  • I wanted more tacos
The tone was set.  I have the adventure framework written up in more detail.  Now I'm off to learn more about running successful mystery scenarios in RPGs. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Protege System

Having a character die sucks.  It isn't always so much that you lose the awesome guy you built up and all of the cool stuff, but that your new mook is 1st level and everyone else is a powerhouse (like 5th level).  You are a fragile and delicate flower compared to the hardened badasses that have almost two magic weapons. among them.

Enter the Protege System!  The idea is that you can impart some of your adventuring knowledge to one of more protege characters that, when your main character is taken out of action, retires, or is otherwise no longer in play you can come to the table with a character that is at least not a completely fresh supern00b.

A Note on Experience
The game I run has 2 types of experience
  • Adventuring: from killing monsters, lore awards, and exploration (about 60% of all EXP)
  • Carousing: experience from spending all the loot you find (about 40% of all EXP)
Adventuring EXP is handed out at the end of adventures or when there is a reasonable break in the action (not each session). 

The System
  • A character may have a maxim number of protégé equal to their maximum henchman number. 
  • A character may have their first protégé when they reach level 2. 
  • Protégé can be of any class. 
  • Protégé may pass between characters, but once passed on may not go back to a former master. 
  • Protégé must be at least 1 level less than the master character. 
  • A protégé may not have a protégé himself; only primary characters may have protégé. 
  • Player may pass along Adventuring EXP to the protégé in the same session it is earned. 
  • The amount of EXP is 2x CHA percent of any EXP earned (CHA of 11 = 22%). 
  • This amount is divided among all protégé, split as desired. 
  • This EXP is not lost to the main character. 
  • A protégé can only gain EXP this way once per session. 
  • The first time a protégé is played they are a character and can no longer a protégé and cannot be given experience points in this manner.
Example: Higgins earns 250 EXP.  His CHA is 14.  So Higgins has 250 * (14 x2)% = 250 * .28 = 70 EXP to distribute to his 2 protégé in any manner he sees fit.

Character Last Will and Testament
This also gives players the ability to write up a will for their stuff.  "I bequest my fine silver blade to my protégé Asgird and my suite of chain to Gwendolyn.  The remainder of my goods are given to the party treasurey except for my coin which is to be show to Kylic the thief then given to the poor so the wretch knows what he can't steal."

Posthumous EXP
For characters that were awesome but died off in a battle, they still gain posthumous EXP which can be handed out to protégé before they become primary characters.  It is that last bump for a "job well done".  If the character is going to remain a protégé then they don't get this option and can learn from whoever takes them, over.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Aldsburg Chronicles Rewritten

... wherein the Previous and Current rejoin ...

The Aldsburg Chronicles, even while set after the previous campaign, had been running on and off for a year or so.  The end of the Worldgod Campaign was pretty intense and went down one of the paths that the Aldsburg Chronicles were NOT set in.  So we rebooted a bit.

The end of the 8th Age was a time of great destruction.  When the Phoenician Lords, a band of madmen from another world, killed the Soul of the Eradu the skies bled metal and fire.  Waters rose and swallowed the unworthy.  Mountains punched though the ground and tumbled the weak.  Those that survived the Apocalypse saw a new sky brimming with gods and felt the world shudder as it forced itself to be reborn.

Aldsburg is the City of Towers.  It was once a place that sprawled and was home to millions.  But now only 3 towers stand tall: Lion's Tooth, Ivory Jundar, and Steel Tower.  The ruins of other towers are scattered across the scarred mountainside and inhabited by the wretched - bandits, mutants, and monsters.

Lion's Tooth is the gateway to Aldsburg and where the majority of Aldsburg lives.  Each of the layers has one of the noble families that runs it, and each layer has 2 or three townships run by lesser nobility.
Somewhere in the crown sits Clarissa the Grotesque who controls all of the Tower.  The lowest to highest layers are: the Warrens, Bridgingate, and The Crown.

Ivory Jundar is where the Opulent and Noble live.  The four levels are places of slavery and dark desires.  While the Bellmans Quarter the lowest tower level) is entirely off limits, activity between Lion's Tooth and Steel Tower take place in The Arena level.  The strange Twin Spires layer has two very distinct and separate regions split when the sky fell, but The Clouds are the highest level and allow the most opulent and most worthy.

Steel Tower was once a place of Wizards but was burned from the core outward.  It is now a place where the truly criminal and the insane are left to their own devices.  While none are allowed to leave the Steel Tower does trade and have interaction with both Ivory and Lion's Tooth. The five levels are named after the colors of the stone and steel: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, and Blue.

Surrounding The Towers are two communities: Callistown and Brindle's Gate.  The inhabitants of Callistown are farmers and miners and make the majority of the food for the city.  They live in what appears to be and endless and smoking shanty around the base of Lion's Tooth.  Brindle's Gate is on the far side of Hangman Bridge and acts as a gate town for those few visitors that attempt to visit.  It is a place of thievery and corruption.

The players asked a few questions but were all bought in.  With the memories of the previous Aldsburg games rumbling about the setting already feels solid.  Also, this happens to mesh up nicely with the Haven Campaign setting for the BXDH rules.

Now Aldsburg is more focused (3 towers instead of a billion) and is surrounded by both alternate urban locations but immediate "Giant Ruined Pile" sites.  The party can muck about in the immediate area as much as they like or get into some of wilderness exploration.

From the GM side I'm going to look into making point-crawl style maps for the area around Aldsburg.  Then a combination of hex-crawl and point-crawl for the wilderness.  Aldsburg and the Underworld get the old fashioned grid map treatment.