Monday, March 18, 2019

Adventures, V2 Updates, and the Revised Encumbrance System

Since the last major adventure update, a TON of stuff has happened. Here is a summary of the recent adventure, each chapter is an actual session of play:

Chapter 1

  • Jordan Klem is hired as a henchman
  • The crew meets Hellen of the Black Leg Gang
  • Learn of the turf war between the BLG and the Serpent’s eyes
  • Learn of Teluni’s Rest and the Dungeon Kings (Guild 111)
  • Meeting with Ingref and the Ageless Vaults
  • Jordan is affected by Astral interference from Jacob
  • Learned of Petey and his mercenaries wearing false skin
  • Confront Hellen with her love letters to Abby (from the Dungeon Kings)

Chapter 2

  • Spent some time dicking around in Cowtown
  • Gathered information and contacts at the Exalted Hound
  • Finds out about the Slippery Begonia
  • Brutal fight with Serpent’s Eyes
  • Find connections between Serpents Eyes, Black Leg Gang, and Dungeon Kings
  • Take on Jerry as a henchman and his debt to Nico Forte
  • Jordan is getting worse
  • Enter Taluni’s Rest

Chapter 3 [the last session notes on the blog a few posts down]

  • Get messed up by something big and shadowy and magical
  • Pick up a strange egg, keening hound?
  • Find several graves, including one that seems to be related to St. Brigit
  • Rescued from certain doom by the Hammers and the Windward Pistoleers
  • Jordan Blackwater, insane now, escaped the templar
  • The bar was attacked, Hellen perished, but had a letter for the crew
  • Some time spent at the Chancery of Arbitration to deal with the bounty on the crew’s heads put there by Serpent’s Eyes
  • Visit from Killington from the Gentlemen of Success (senior GDD chapter)

Chapter 4

  • Found more about the Serpent’s Eyes leadership
  • Interrogation and a new ally at a Buns Shop
  • Discovered the Ageless Vault
  • Spent quite a bit of time working on deciphering the letter from Abby to Hellen

Chapter 5

  • Massive Serpent’s eyes activity at the Vault
  • Discovered the TRUE entrance
  • Jacob is killed by defense mechanicsm
  • Iggy has his eyes put out and puts what are expected to be Brigit’s eyes in his head
  • Gain entrance to the False Tomb
  • See a congregation of the dead
  • Approached by a blue creature named Beetle

Chapter 6

  • Beetle trades a sack containing Edward and some information for a pretty music box and a memory from Forval
  • Find a strange scrying pool that is also a gate to another place and time?
  • Encounter the Defiler Lord and his Masked Defiler adherents
  • Parley with them
  • Massive battle with the Congregation of the dead and Deacon Ramirez
  • Retrieve the arm of St. Brigit
  • The masked defilers are following and watching

Chapter 7

  • Serpent Eyes found the real Vault Entrance
  • This Dungeon is growing, it's probably an entrance to Sorrow
  • We find several interesting books
  • Deacon Thrum gives us lots of information about Sorrow
  • We find an elevator and go down approximately 1 level

Chapter 8

  • Happening this Friday night - who knows what will transpire!

Sorrow in Haven V2
Things are moving along at a reasonable pace. The Players section of the rules are nearing completion.

  • need to flesh out some of the "flavor text" for the classes, specifically the organizations for each class and a bit about them. Using this to add 'implied setting' directly into the rules
  • building out the equipment section a bit more without being an endless list of shit
  • The rules for action resolution have been tidied and simplified - we dropped a few fiddly things and after a play session everyone agreed that they didn't really miss them
  • the two magic chapters are on deck, followed by the rules for Followers (Henchmen and hirelings)
  • review and clean up the combat chapter
  • the "reaction rules" are being cleaned up
  • adding chapter for Encounters - they don't always lead to combat
  • segmenting some rules and flavor into 3 chapters: Urban, Wilderness, Underworld
  • going to focus these sections on player-facing needs and keep GM stuff out for now 

Chapters, by the way, are sometimes a page long, sometimes two. Only a few of them span more than that. I'm making a point to spend at least 8 hours a week working on this, trying to write or think about things almost every day. Like a writing month that never ends :) I'm targeting end of April for a the complete Players Section.

Once I'm set with the Players section, I'll deep dive into the GM section. I'm going to try and translate all of my at-table activity into rules/descriptions as well as flesh out some of the details

Encumbrance Rules
Everyone hates encumbrance rules. But how much junk your character is carrying around is important. What doesn't work (and isn't fun) is totaling up the weight of everything a character is carrying and where they are carrying it and maintaining that every hour. it suuuuucks. That is why HM4e had the "Encumbrance Audit" rule, which was basically the GM saying "fuck you" to players who didn't do the book keeping.

What works, though? Slots. Like in the Diablo games. I've used some version of this previously, and in the last few years several games use something similar (Black Hack, Veins of the Earth come to mind). SO here is how it works in Sorrow in Haven.

Gear Containers from the Character Sheet
Every character has a Primary Container with 9 slots in a 3 x 3 grid. They also have 5 small containers, each with 3 slots. The containers are abstract concepts, not meant to be actual continers like backpacks or pouches.

Small items take up 1 slot, medium 2 slots, and large 3 slots.  Slots for a specific item must be adjacent in a single container. A few things, like armor, can take up more than 3 slots. Slots are an abstraction of weight, bulk, and access. For example, you can carry more than 1 dagger in a slot, but if you plan on using them in combat or having easy access to them, they need to be a in a single slot.

This is for things that don't take up a slot. A piece of paper, an earring, and small stuff like that. These don't "count against you" for encumbrance.

Calculating Encumbrance
Anyone can use the 9 slots in their primary container with no fear of running afoul any encumbrance rules. As soon as they starting using the small containers, the rules trigger.

Encumbrance points = (# of small containers being used, even a single slot) - size modifier (all characters are medium, so this is 1) - STR action modifier.

Example: 2 small containers, STR action modifier +0 ... 2 (containers) -1 (size medium) -0 (STR mod) = 1 encumbrance point.

Dungeon Cart model I put together ... it also has a flag
but didn't have it attached when I took this photo
If a character has at least 1 Encumbrance Point, they are considered Encumbered. Each Encumbrance point is -1 to ALL ACTION ROLLS. Being encumbered will also impact other things - like being able to climb certain things, what happens if they fall into deep water, and so on, but the -1 penalty is what makes everyone pay attention.

Does it Work?
Mechanically it is a breeze. In actual play it works because players have quick visual cues as to how much they are carrying and if they are going to have any penalties. So far, players do everything they can to avoid that Action Roll penalty, which is exactly the point of the entire system - awareness and ease of use!

Players are making use of followers (Henchman Jerry carries stuff for the group) and we even have the first "dungeon cart" in play to haul stuff around. It works and isn't confusing and is the least amount of book keeping I've seen with an encumbrance system than has the feel I like. That decision to keep some stuff and leave the rest behind can be a Hard Choice ™, which is perfect.