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.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Session Report [T0.5] and Campaign Notes

I'm going to write us session reports for each of the games I'm running.  I've got groups planned so far and a third category I'll get to when I get to it.

T: Tabletop - this is my face-to-face group that meets every other week (or so).
O: Online - I have a few friends who live far away, so a little Skype gaming will be thrown down.
P: Pickup - eventually I'll want to run this at conventions and game shops, but no plans for that just yet.

Mini Tabletop Session Report
We finished the first adventures of the 5e Planescape game - it was pretty awesome.  J brought in some LotFP stuff from his copy of Slugs.  I was jealous because I didn't get one ... but as usual Raggi's insanity brought the awesome.  Some fucked up slug mist nearly TPK'd us!  However, this isn't about 5e, it is about the first Dawn of Eradu session!  We finished the 5e game early and ran about an hour to get the tone going.

Character Creation
Everyone generated 6 random 3d6 stats. If the highest was less than 16, the lowest score became a 16. Then they placed them where they want.  We rolled for random weapons and some random gear.   Interesting details from that:

  • Ian: has some sort of boiled leather armor made from lion hides, wields a pristine great axe, and has a holy symbol for an unknown god.  Seems to be speaking to someone who isn't there.
  • Proximo: rocking a pair of hard-core cestus he has a bag of steel ball bearings and a silver needle that won't bend.  Keeps talking about "the Engineer".
  • Duchess: a bloody cudgel, and fancy clothes, also bloodied.  Immediately has delusions of nobility.
  • Offender 3: goes by "Fen", has some raggedy temple clothes, an ancient war hammer, and a bunch of wooden stakes with the symbol of "The Morning Lord" on the end.  Immediately gets a little VanHelsing.
The fun part here is that no characters have any memories. None. No character class, no tedious background story, just some weird gear and the here and now. A previous post talks
about the mechanics for recovering memories, but there is more to it than a clever setting mechanic.

GM Design Notes: I really want to see if I can get players to play within a framework of rules but not get caught up in the numbers and abilities and archetypes of class. But I also don't want a completely free-form storytelling "game".  So to move things along at an accelerated pace, characters with nothing but some stats and some gear.  Players need to breath life into characters through their actions. No arguments about if a "Lawful Good Ranger" should be using Fekulon's Orb of Fire to lay waste to a village.  If that happens, it happens.  Consequences from actions, not restrictions from labels.  In less than an hour, however, the combination of Dungeon World Mechanics and a strange freedom from their "role" in the party got the group role playing smoothly.

Play Highlights

  • The party woke up around a campfire in a huge cavern where the floor was a gritty grey dust. 
  • After some investigation, this was determined to be cremated and ground bone dust. Ian picked up the campaign's first point of Darkness.
  • The party scouted around and found a 15' high cliff that was covered in damp flowstone.
  • One person made it to the top and glances a field of statues but then fell.
  • Someone else examined things and determined that they could all get up if one person was left behind.  They tabled that and continued to explore.
  • At the opposite end of the cavern they saw some 20' up there was a massive hole in the ceiling that some sort of huge mottled purple flesh was sliding by.
  • Fen nearly died when a huge gob of caustic goo fell from the passing thing, when was then gone leaving a second, if more dangerous and impossible to climb to, exit.
  • Proximo recovered the first memory
GM: What is the thing that you regret most in life, the thing that defines who you are today?
Proximo: I failed to win the Gladiatorial Games ... the honor was not mine.

GM Thoughts: As soon as the first memory came into play I realized that I needed to get a big list of questions ready for folks.  I also realized that I made the rules for recovering memories a bit too easy, so they are in rewrite. 6- now gets the character a Nightmare, which if they "deal with it" through role playing they can mark it off with XP.  It is like a bond with the character's former self.  Also I suddenly realized I could direct the kind of characters I want to have in the campaign. While there is no obvious back story, there is one I'm not telling, but as the memories form some things will possibly become more clear(?).  Alternatively Players are answering questions, so who knows where it will go!

The session ended there, and I introduced how I'm bringing Bond into play.  At the end of a session you can write a bond for a character that you interacted with this session.  Make it reasonable and applicable.  We stumbled a bit here, but got some good ones.

  • I need to keep an eye on Duchess.  I think this is going to be difficult to resolve, but it sets up some fantastic motivation for future play.
  • I must assert Mastery over Offender 3.  Oh hell yea!  I don't think I'm going to prep for shit any more with players writing bonds like this.
  • I owe a huge debt to Ian. You do!  Ian saved this character's life (see caustic blob above). I can't wait to see the debt payed off.
  • ... and while I know there was a 4th, someone forgot to write it on their sheet, which means they have forgotten it.  Such is life.

It was a fun session.  I immediately expanded the starting gear tables significantly and got around to create the character sheet I want these folks to have.  It isn't a playbook in the DW sense because it lacks moves.  Also, it has some things that aren't part of standard DW. I'll explain these house rules in future posts once the players figure them out. I can already guess that DW standard bearers might freak out about the second line of debilities, but I suspect it fits my game style better than it reads.  Of course I could be wrong ... in which case I'll fix it.  GM's gotta play too, yo!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Magic in the Dawn of Eradu

I got bored with Monster Friday, and Move Monday and all of that - mostly because I'm posting ideas and thoughts for a campaign that is just starting.  So I'll post things as they show up in the game.  For now, though, some thoughts on magic classes.

I'm always puttering around with magic because, frankly, it is fun.  The Wizard class in Dungeon World is too much the book and lab guy that I've always avoided.  I don't want Gandalf or Professor Snape throwing magic, I want magic to be dirty and from the gut; rife with profound personal danger.  So I'm adding 4 classes to my upcoming campaign - they are "variants" of the Wizard class (which I'm including for that that may want to play it).

There are 3 types of arcane casters in Dawn of Eradu:
  • Mage: Draws power naturally from their bloodline, inherent ability.
  • Wizard: Has learned through research and sacrifice, learned ability.
  • Sorcerer: Dark and terrible pacts were made for power, bargained ability.
Players may be a mage or wizard, but sorcerers will be longstanding enemies of the campaign. Sorcerer sub-types include:
  • Mind Wizard: strange thick yellow wrinkled men who control the minds of the lesser
  • Death Sorcerer: female (or at least all that have been noted) sorcerers who are cultists of the Wyrd, an ancient profane god of Death
  • Necromancer: using powers of Scions and Dark Ritual they command legions of undead and horrid constructs
  • Bloodmage: Blood sacrifice and terrible rituals for power to sway and Understand Truth
  • Warlocks: pretty much direct conduits to reality for their foul patron, often an Old One
Mage Lineages
There are 4 lineages that players can choose from, each lineage has their own abilities, but more than a list of features the choice should be made on style.  Below are the 4 types and some keywords to help define them without paragraphs of exposition.
  • Dusk: Calm, Quiet, Shadows, Void
  • Promythean: Strength, Rage, Fire, Earth
  • Skyward: Secrets, Stars, Knowledge, Moon
  • Winter: Ice, Storms, Power, Beauty
Mages do not require a spellbook but may have a mystical focus if they choose.  It should be personal and interesting, and not a book like Wizards use. Some examples (d8):
  1. single scroll of living skin that creaks and groans
  2. knotted strings worn as a belt or bandolier
  3. carved bones the mage wears as jewelry
  4. small planks imbued with magical runes thrown and read
  5. metal plates that weep, mage licks up the tears
  6. writhing tattoos that cover the flesh and sometimes cry out
  7. vicious scars that mage carved with a ritual dagger
  8. silver needles with which the mage pierces his face and palms
If the mage uses the mystical focus when preparing spells, roll + INT
10+: gain +1 forward with a specific known spell until you prepare spells again
7-9: as 10+ but the GM will let you know a complication from your mystic focus

Mages do not have Spell Defense, instead they gain a starting move based on their lineage:
Dusk - Twilight Stance: Stand still in twilight (or torchlight) and become as a shadow in the dusk (as invisibility)
Promythean - Building Rage: Rant and Rave to gain power: roll+CHA    10+: +d6 damage to a spell or attack, 7-9: +d4 damage or as 10+ with complication
Skyward - Cosmic Lever: To move without moving (teletport) simply be where you should be (within LOS), Roll+WIS: 10+ get there, 7-9 get there but be disoriented
Winter - Icy Stare: Stare at a target with disdain; this will act as intimidation leverage in a parley or make the weak back off

Spells are different as well, but I'll get into that later.