Saturday, 19 July 2014

Vanguard Training

I've taken my first steps into a larger world. ;)

For the past couple months, on Thursdays opposite of my Torchbearer game, I've been training of sorts: For what you may ask? Every Thursday afternoon a bunch of local Victorians who LARP up island in Duncan at a venue called Medieval Chaos, meet in a nearby park for weapon and fitness training. Medieval Chaos technically considers itself a HARP (Heavy Action Role-Playing) game; it features full-contact combat (strictly non-combatants are also welcome) with magic and spellcasting. I won't go into the full details of MC because I'm just learning the ropes, but I suggest you check out their handbooks on PDF for more in-depth information.

Such a stunning array of arms to choose from!
The group, of over a dozen or so players, are a friendly bunch, if a little exclusive to their hobby. Initially, I did not possess my own foam weapon but several people bring extras and are gracious enough to let newcomers (peasants) borrow them.

Last Thursdays' TB session was called off due to low attendance so I'd been granted the opportunity to attend Vanguard Training, as it has been dubbed, three times in a row this month. And I must say, I'm hooked!

I've been trying to stay physically fit a bit more now that I'm fully healed from my surgeries and the weather's pleasant (if sometimes a bit too hot); I got a pair of runners a few months ago and have been jogging home from work (since I normally walked I figured running would get me home sooner and I get more exercise to boot).

Last Thursday's session was all about shields; primers on types and their usage, and how to fight with/against them. So far I find them a bit too heavy to use; I prefer to stay nimbler in melee.
My buddy Ash is on the left presenting his tower shield.

Vanguard training combines several things that are important to me: exercise, socializing, and imagination. The atmosphere has been non-competitive despite the versus nature of combat, which is also big plus for me. I enjoy it so much I finally went out yesterday and got myself a weapon that I had been eyeing for a few weeks:

The manufacturer calls it The Dentist; others call it a 'problem-solver'. I can't wait to try it out next week.
The nice thing is I can also use it potentially for cosplay, zombie walks, and/or beating annoying gamers over the head.

I'd love to participate in actual MC to get the full experience, but alas my work schedule right now prevents me from making it to their regular Saturday games. Right now I'll just have to be content with taking my lumps at Vanguard.

To the Pain! ;{١

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Torchbearer AP - Part 5: Dratted Conflicts

This last Thursdays session of Torchbearer went by quick with a late start, a few conflicts, and a early end. Fun was had though. Once they knew that spending Fate and Persona points on wises also granted perks, my players were more eager to spend them aiding in leveling up. Our adventure in Barrik's Keep is nearing its end, but I still have a few surprises in store for our characters. >:)

Dramatis Personæ:
  • Fraser ... Morris the Mirthful [Human Magician] An anarchistic arcanist with a big mouth and several opinions. 
  • Jason ... Rebo Pepper [Halfling Burgler] A quiet and pleasant little person who seeks loot to feed his love of food. 
  • Riley S ... Hrolf Rosensloff [Human Warrior] - A fighter of such short stature he's often mistaken for a dwarf.
  • Scotty ... Falgaff Bitterleaf [Elven Ranger] - A curious, knowledge-loving Elf who's a bit of a loner. 

Jason preformed the prologue from last session and cleared away Rebo's Hunger/Thirst.

Adventure Phase

  1. Beginning just out of town, our trio of adventurers consisting of Morris, Rebo, and Falgaff, decided to brave the Keep again to find out what happened to their missing companion Hrolf and perhaps once and for all discover the source of the winter curse that has befell the region. Falgaff intended to lead their company, and once his and Morris' fast was broke with a couple draughts of water, he made a Pathfinder Test: Despite being now somewhat familiar with the area being traversed, having travelled it several times recently, his Loner trait caused Falgaff to blaze a trail faster than his companions could follow. He soon found himself alone in the wild whilst he heard the noise of a strident pack of creatures rapidly heading in his direction.

  2. Falgaff quickly made a Scout Test and his Elven nature for Hiding successfully hid him from a small pack of Ratlings, who after pausing and sniffing the air, rapidly headed off in the direction of his companions once they'd caught their scent. Falgaff cautiously followed them whilst remaining hidden.

  3. The pack's crashing through underbrush heralded their approach to Rebo and Morris, who then tried to quickly set up a tripwire using rope via a Hunter Test: Failure meant the pack was upon them before they could completely set it up and hide.

  4. A Drive Off Conflict ensued. Falgaff emerged from hiding and joined the fray, barraging the unsuspecting Ratlings with thrown stones, getting their attention and ire after they disarmed Rebo of his bow; In turn they pounced upon him, knocking him into a snow bank. Morris sprayed them with a flurry of Eldritch Darts, but the clever Ratlings scampered up trees, knocking clumps of snow down from the branches and hindering the Magician's aim. Armed with the dagger Morris had tossed him, Rebo ran over to the Elf and guarded his companion whilst he righted himself. Morris drove off two of the Ratlings. The sole Ratling tried to rally his cronies, but they remained hovering at a distance, unsure which way the battle may turn. This lone Ratling then hurled himself at Morris, who in turn sent it scurrying away from a grievous spray of Eldritch Darts. Victory for our group with only the minor compromise of Morris becoming Angry at the ordeal, but the whole conflict left our adventurers Hungry/Thirsty though.

    After a short trip our trio once again found themselves outside of Barrik's Keep. After some bickering with the spirit of Barrik residing in Falgaff's mind, the group decided to comb the area they were recently for any signs of Hrolf by candle light. With the original intent of bypassing the tower chamber of the lulling ice strands, the party came across Hrolf cowering behind his shield in the corner of the dining hall. To his chagrin, he claimed he had somehow gotten separated from the group, and in the pitch dark with no light his fears had prevented him from doing naught but curling up in the fetal position with his shield pulled over top of him like a child clutching a blanket for security. His rations kept him from starvation whilst he awaited rescue from his friends or death at the hands of giant spiders, ratlings, or worse.

    Reformed again, the party set out with intent to find the laboratory Barrik spoke of. Using the spirit as a guide with Falgaff as proxy, they entered into the familiar study complete with the blind/deaf armour golem. After some discussion they decided it would be best to leave the guardian construct alone for now, as trying to deprive it of the axe it carried or the enchanted plate that it was conjured from could be risky. They continued on through the parlour where they first found Blingo the Carpenter tied up and the enchanted skull of Barrik, and into the ballroom where the old chandeliers faintly reflected their candle light.

  5. Rebo lit one of the torches using the candle flame and it was seen that a pile of detritus seemed to squoosh slowly towards them: the Gelatinous Cube! As Barrik's spirit instructed them to the hallway across the room, a Flee Conflict ensued to avoid the ooze! Manoeuvring around the slow-moving jelly seemed an easy prospect at first, until running on the ballroom floor slick with refuse turned out to be disgustingly hazardous: Hrolf distracted the Cube by tossing garbage at it and successfully lured it toward him, except when he attempted to move out of its oncoming path he slipped and landed face first in a pile of muck. Falgaff saw his companion thrashing about in distress and ran over to help, and ended up being pulled down into the muck by the warrior. The same soon happened to Rebo, and with his friends wallowing about like terrified pigs in a sty, Morris gird his loins and hurled his jar of lye water at the Gelatinous Cube with all force and gusto (finally training himself properly in Scout): unfortunately the jar passed right through the Cube like a bullet through ballistic jelly and shattered against the opposite wall. Our heroes failed in their original mission to cross the room relatively unmolested; instead covered with refuse they fled down the corridor with the Cube squeezing its bulk through the narrow hall in slow, relentless pursuit after them.

  6. Ducking into the nearest doorway and closing the wooden door behind them, the group entered a storage room of some sorts filled from floor to ceiling with rotten wooden boxes, most of which were empty/crushed beneath others. A single door graced the opposite wall. The spirit of Barrik related that this room once stored magical reagents for his experiments. Though the remaining containers were mostly filled with eclectic items (such as a box of withered butterfly wings, or a handful of glass beads), Morris made a Scavenger Test to quickly scrounge for any useful Alchemical materials whilst the Gelatinous slowly dissolved the door they entered by: his roll resulted him in becoming Exhausted by the strenuous and frantic search, but he did find some basic supplies. The group quickly proceeded through the other door which Barrik had informed them was the entrance to his laboratory just as Falgaff lit a new candle with the dying torch embers.

  7. In the dim light of our adventures saw that the chamber was filled with various scientific apparatus, all coated in a shimmering layer of ice. A large throne rested atop a pedestal in the corner of the room, both seemingly carved from a single solid block of ice. A freezing aura of cold wafted from the pedestal, and set within the ice was the slender shape of a silver sword. But the most noticeable thing in the room was the lanky, humanoid figure with the fur and face of a rat that reclined upon the throne. In its hand it held a crude sceptre fashioned from bone, whilst a crown of similar manufacture sat on its head. When it's beady black eyes regarded them, a feeling of revulsion welled up within our comrades.

    Hrolf strode up and as bold as brass demanded it address itself; with a harsh chitter it proclaimed itself as Keshute, Lord of the Keep and soon to be Lord of the region of Torlynn! It explained it came to this land about two years past with its Ratling followers, and that using its own clever skill with the alchemical devices of Barrik's abandoned Keep fashioned the ice throne upon which it sat, using a magical sword from a hapless group of Elven adventurers (Falgaff's original party) as the primary catalyst. This in turn created the accursed winter which has driven the vast majority of the local folk to abandoning Torlynn, leaving it near ripe for conquest by it and its minions (which appeared from hiding behind frozen tables to back up their leader when the adventures challenged its claim). Keshute claimed it would accept the group's surrender now, in return for their lives in eternal servitude. Hrolf proclaimed that a quick, merciful death at his sword was the best they would offer!

    Because the party's tactical intent was to drive the Ratlings and their leader into the storage room and possibly into the awaiting Gelatinous Cube, I ruled this was a Drive Off Conflict**. Keshute boldly led its minions into battle, using the bone sceptre it wielded to create shocking magic against Hrolf; a good shot from Rebo's bow knocked the sceptre from Keshute's grasp. Time was spent with both sides jockeying for the upper-hand against the other, Hrolf expertly defending off the attacking swarm, taking only but a single blow upon his helm until Keshute tactically made a fatal error: it threw its force completely against the "unarmed" magician, who proved the Wererat incorrect when he unleashed a veritable torrent of Eldritch Darts so powerful all the Ratlings were driven to flight down the storage room, right into the transparent Gelatinous Cube! Pinned between these powerful humanoids and the ooze that was engulfing its squealing minions, Keshute opted to take its chances with the Cube: it gathered speed and dove into the cube with the intention of gliding through, but soon lost momentum and began writhing in agony, its body slowly dissolving along with the (magical?) bone crown it wore. A total victory for our adventurers!

    Thus ended the short reign of Keshute...
  8. Having dealt with Keshute and the Ratling minions, the party took to investigating the frozen laboratory and the icy throne. Using the spirit of Barrik and the silken blindfold he had recovered from one of the coffins a few days ago to aid him, Falgaff cast Supernal Vision and began to identify the frozen throne with the sword within via an Arcanist* Test: Success determined the basket-hilted blade was indeed magically generating the ice, along with foul climate in the region. Falgaff also recognized the magical sword was named "Keleb" and it belonged to the leader of the previous expedition he was apart of: Elladin Silvercrest's company. Bellies began to grumble as the post-combat rush cleared away and the first lit candle burnt out.

  9. A quick glance over the bone sceptre Keshute had dropped revealed its nature with a Arcanist* Test: when wielded in certain conflicts the sceptre could unleash a paralysing shock per charge; it had five charges remaining on it. The group determined the sceptre would be useful, but also rightly so no merchant would buy the ugly object from them if they wanted to barter it.

    Bone Sceptre 
    This would resemble a rod of office if it wasn't fashioned out of a yellowed femur capped with tin and infrequently unleashed bursts of sparks.
    Level: 2
    Effect: Paralysing Shock: +2D to a Maneuver action in Kill/Capture/Drive Off conflicts per charge use.
    Functions normally as a club, a basic melee weapon that has no benefits/penalties nor special abilities.
    Charges: 1d6+2. 
    Inventory: Hands/ Carried 1 or Weapon/Belt 1. 
    Type: Magical Weapon.

    A faint magical aura led the group into an adjoining room, which was a cell strewn with the bones of animals and men. Sturdy chains were attached to three metal rings on each wall and were attached on the opposite end to manacles fastened around legs of three elves, whom were frozen solid and appeared dead. Falgaff immediately recognised them as his previous companions; Elladin, Caithana, and Trakas; and quietly began muttering a few words of mourning in Elven. Rebo proclaimed that their state was very similar to that of Morris' and Hrolf's when they were bitten by the White Widow, so there is a chance they might be alive. Studying the ice carefully they surmised that the freezing venom from the giant spider puts its prey into a state of suspended animation, preserving them for fresh consumption for later...

With fresh answers as well as new questions, we ended the session here.

Character Condition Status

  • Falgaff Bitterleaf - Hungry and Thirsty.
  • Morris the Mirthful - Hungry/Thirsty, Angry, and Exhausted.
  • Rebo Pepper - Hungry/Thirsty, and Angry.
  • Hrolf Rosensloff - Hungry/Thirsty, Afraid, and Exhausted

Things I Forgot:
*I should've had Scotty roll for Falgaff casting Supernal Vision to determine the duration of the spell; I probably assumed it was autocast like Eldritch Darts. Also I had him test Arcanist instead of Loremaster to identify magical auras, as I misread the spell entry. Nothing major though, I'll just try to remember to have him test at least an Ob 3 Arcanist for the spell duration next session.

Also in all the excitement of conflicts people would forget dim lighting and condition penalties. This is something I still find tough to track since I like to run games somewhat loose and cinematic.

**Though the final conflict with Keshute could've been run as a Kill conflict (since driving your enemy off of a cliff face does have a more murderous intent than simply driving them away), I decided the players collectively had a Good Idea using the pursuing Gelatinous Cube to their advantage and driving the somewhat dim-witted Ratlings and their master into it would be easier than outright slaying them. :)

Until Next Time... ;{١

Monday, 23 June 2014

Free RPG Day 2014

Last Saturday 'twas that time of year again, the proverbial gift-mas in June: Free RPG Day. I hope you were able to make it two a participating FLGS and grab a few items to try something new or supplement your collection. I, myself managed to hit up two retailers before I had to go to work and got a handful of free products plus one that I'd paid for. Again I had to pick and choose between all the entries that garnered my interest:

Laminations of the Flame Princess - The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children

First off we'll start off with the second-time winner in my humble opinion of Free RPG Day (if it was a contest), Laminations of the Flame Princess' brilliant entry: The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children. Like their previous year's entry, the excellent production values were funded by a successful crowd-funding project.

Despite clocking in at a smaller page count (36-pages) compared to last years' massive near-100 page entry: Better Than Any Man, this year's entry is just as well-written. Whereas Better Than Any Man was more of a sandbox with an overarching, time-sensitive plot attached to it, Doom-Cave is more of a classic dungeon crawl with an excellent story, making it in my opinion more accessible to new LotFP players or other OSR gamers who'd like to drop Doom-Cave into a pre-existing game or give its parent system a try.

Again no quick-start rules, appropriately because a free no-art version of the LotFP rules is available online. The art might not be as stellar in comparison to Better, but the sketch-art in Doom-Cave is very thematic to the setting. Word of warning again to the squeamish, the content might be considered explicit to those with certain sensitivities.

I've yet to read thoroughly through Doom-Cave, but the a decent mix of good old grid dungeons, random tables, interesting encounters, and a good heaping dose of the weirdness that is LotFP makes me look forward to digesting this entry. Also last year's Better Than Any Man is available on PDF for pay-what-you want here.

Cosmic Patrol - Quick-Start Rules: The Continuance Contingency

Another small sampling of Cosmic Patrol by our friends at Catalyst Game Labs. About half of this 24-page folio is filled with quick-start rules, which I've already covered in my last Free RPG Day entry.

The remainder is filled with a couple pre-gen characters, example enemies, and a several mission briefs.

All in all, a decent, if sparse Free RPG Day 2014 entry.

Castles & Crusades - A Druid's Lament

I was fortunate enough a couple months ago to acquire a few of last years Free RPG Day entries (the advantages of living in a small capital city), namely Castles & Crusades, Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls, and Swords & Wizardry: A Pot of Broken Bones (& Halfling Broth), a preview pack, and Hall of Bones, respectively.

These free leftovers from my FLGS did help round out my collection and fulfil my desire for more 'old school' games during my hunt for material to possibly convert over to my ongoing Torchbearer game.

Personally, I found the T&T entry a little too hack'n'slash for my tastes, and the C&C one somewhat generic but decent. I did actually enjoy the S&W entry Hall of Bones though, I found it had a decent layout and simple but well-done delve.

Back to now, the entry this year, A Druid's Lament by C&C, I think was better than it's predecessor, though it does suffer from some weak writing. (I.e. it was written the Druid directs the party to a great tree, but one can only presume she does do because she knows that's where the forest spirit resumes? Also she's very loath to tell the story of what happened, but eventually does so anyway?)

Since C&C is stripped down version of d20, I'm not really a fan of it system-wise but this entry is a nice little side-trek that can be dropped into about any other fantasy game.

Mage: The Ascension - Introductory Quickstart Rules and Adventure Hooks

One of the entries with a higher page count, I picked up this Mage quickstart because it came to my attention last week I don't own any material by White Wolf (or it's new parent company, Onyx Path Publishing). Not that I really want anything by WW in my collection; (I sold a collection of Werewolf: The Apocalypse books that had come into my possession to a friend) despite playing a few WW games, I just have never felt the desire to own any of them.

Anyway, the main reason I grabbed Mage was because a couple friends who want to game with me a few weeks ago had little experience in RPGs beyond Mage and Pathfinder, so I grabbed it for a lark.

I had heard good things about Mage as far as the WoD line goes, and maybe once I sat down and read this booklet I might like what I see. If not, I'll give to someone who appreciates it more. That all said, the general layout and the art is top notch.

Dungeon Crawl Classics/Maximum Xcrawl - Elzemon and the Blood-Drinking Box/Dungeon Detonation 

23 pages of goodness from Goodman Games. Alas, only roughly four of these pages host a short but interesting mini-delve in DCC, the remainder cover a Maximum Xcrawl scenario.

What is Maximum Xcrawl you ask? Imagine if dungeon crawling was a modern competitive sport/game show akin to American Gladiators, Monday Night Combat, Smash TV, and/or Japanese Game Shows; for Pathfinder.

It's also worth mentioning that MX currently has a kickstarter to make a hardcover edition, so check it out if that's your thing. An amusing and interesting concept, though I don't know if I'd ever play/run it personally. Maybe if the fancy strikes or at a convention.

The Stuff I Didn't Get:

  • Pathfinder "Risen from the Sands Adventure" - I have enough Pathfinder/3.x material I can use right now.
  • Pathfinder Adventure Card Pack - No thanks.
  • ShadowRun/BattleTech Quick-Start Rules - I have little interest in either.
  • Q-Workshop/Chessex Modern Fudge/Commemorative Dice - Either/both would've been a nice little keepsake if they were available.
  • Valiant Universe RPG Quick-Start Rules - Never been a huge 'supers' fan, and I know even less about the Valiant Comics Universe than usual. This quick-start is available online on PDF here.
  • 13th Age "Make Your Own Luck" - This would've been my sixth item, had it not already been swiped at the second locale I visited; I'm curious to see if 13th Age lives up to the praise I've heard.
  • A Chooseomatic book "Time Travel Dinosaur -Mesozoic Mayhem" - It was interesting to see a free choose-your-own-adventure'ish book available. Apparently the creator had a kickstarter to cover the costs. All the power to him.
  • I didn't even get to see the rest of the single examples, either they were already snatched up and/or FLGS employees had first pick.

Lastly, I finally picked up a copy of Dungeon World. I know I might be a little late to the *Worlds systems, but better late than never. At least I've played a few. :)

Plus purchasing something during the event helps retailers know that Free RPG Day can be lucrative and encourage them to order in more games!

Thanks to all the publishers that made Free RPG Day exist! ;{١

Friday, 20 June 2014

Torchbearer AP - Part 4: Almost Left Four Dead

Things went rapidly from good, to bad, to worse in our latest Torchbearer game and we saw how much punishment our delvers can bounce back from. It's hard to tell if I'm being too nice or too cruel to my players... Perhaps Both?

Our last session ended with the eerie rising of four undead creatures, one of which was intelligent enough to utter a raspy command to his decayed companions: "Kill these intruders so I might feast upon their flesh!" We now resume that thrilling cliffhanger!

After a insightful prologue by Fraser, Exhausted was removed from Morris, making the party condition-free for the trials ahead; gods know they needed it.

Dramatis Personæ:
  • Fraser ... Morris the Mirthful [Human Magician] An anarchistic arcanist with a big mouth and several opinions.
  • Jason ... Rebo Pepper [Halfling Burgler] A quiet and pleasant little person who seeks loot to feed his love of food.
  • Riley S ... Hrolf Rosensloff [Human Warrior] - A fighter of such short stature he's often mistaken for a dwarf. Absent.
  • Stephen ... Joseph [Human Cleric] - A jaded ex-felon who found religion in gaol and became a cleric. Absent, soon to become NPC.
  • Scotty ... Falgaff Bitterleaf [Elven Ranger] - A curious, knowledge-loving Elf who's a bit of a loner.

Adventure Phase

7. [resuming from last session] Out of the four pine coffins sitting atop stone biers, clumsily rose three corpse-like creatures, and an unnaturally graceful ghoulish monster which was more fluid in movement than its compatriots. Morris, Rebo, and Flagaff drew their weapons in preparation for a Kill Conflict, when the sound of clanging metal became from behind them. Turning suddenly revealed that Hrolf had completely disappeared and all that remained was his sword, lying on the floor of the passageway. Falgaff led his companions into the fray, jockeying for position whilst the Ghoul directed his zombified underlings to do likewise; Falgaff was able to provide an opening but the gait of the corpse-beings was faster than he anticipated and he was forced to hold them off up close with his bow stave, disarming him of its use. Morris was able to take out two zombies with a blast of Eldritch Darts, before they could gain ground. Keen-eyed shots from Rebo took down the pair on Falgaff. Drawing his dagger, the Elf Ranger then rushed the Ghoul and stabbed at it repeatedly, whilst it slashed its claws at him. Morris greatly succeed on a cast of Eldritch Darts that blew away the Ghoul, winning the Conflict for our heroes! The minor compromise was that Falgaff became Angry that his new bow had been damaged in the fight and was inoperable until he could fix it.
8. The lantern carried by Morris was refilled with oil after it had burnt out. Led by Falgaff, the group made a Scout Test to thoroughly search the room for anything of interest; success noticed each coffin had a false bottom inside of it, but each open-able panel appeared to be connected to a trigger of sorts. Stomachs grumbled as Hunger and Thirst set in.
9. After debating how to open one of the compartments/bypass said trigger, Falgaff elected his Curious Trait was to be a detriment; his desire to trigger any trap and willingness to take any effects head-on for the sake of knowledge was used against his Dungeoneer Test; a hissing noise was heard from the resulting failure, and the whole bottom of the coffin was filled with a thick, noxious purple haze that overflowed the casket and spilled on to the stone floor. Upon touching the bodies of the slain undead creatures, the trio saw to their horror the corpses began reanimate!
10. The group opted a Flee Conflict from the undead, unsure if this necromatic smoke had not only reanimated them but made them stronger in the process! Though the stupid and slow-moving zombies were simple to avoid and outpace, our adventures found the Ghoul incredibly fast: Whilst directing his companions to the corridor beyond the doorway Rebo was maintaining against zombies, the ghoul dove over his short stature and threw the halfling from behind into the mob with such force he bowled over Morris, along with all the zombies, knocking them all out of the conflict. Before Falgaff had time to react to the development, the Ghoul slammed the door hard enough to jam it, and leapt to the other passageway, cutting off any escape route for our adventurers!
11. Backed into a corner and in dire straights, the group decided to fight a way free through a Kill Conflict! Again both sides maneuvered into position, each gaining a small measure of advantage. Morris then mistakenly decided to go on the defensive; although he managed to dodge the blows aimed at him, it gave little reprieve for him or his companions. Falgaff then met the rush of undead armed with not but his dagger; he and Rebo managed to take out three of the zombies before they fell to their blows. Alone, "wielding" Hrolf's sword in one hand and the lamp in the other, Morris opted for a desperate attack: he attempted to hold the one remaining zombie at bay at sword-point, whilst aiming and hurling the lantern at the Ghoul, using his incendiary-wise to full effect. What resulted was two-fold: the lone zombie was inadvertently killed by it skewering itself on the sword held by Morris, whilst the lantern struck home on the Ghoul, dousing it with burning oil and casting dim light throughout the chamber. In a final bout between the two remaining combatants, both had feinted: Morris tried to use the corpse with Hrolf's blade sticking through it as weapon/shield against the enraged and now flaming Ghoul, which managed to rake the mage across his chest with its filthy, paralytic claws. The last thing Morris saw before succumbing to darkness was the Ghoul clutching at the chest wound it had received from the sword...
12. An indeterminate time later, Falgaff and Rebo awoke in total darkness, both Injured with a possible set of broken ribs and a deeply bruised left forearm respectively. The two made a Scavenge Test to grope for materials in the pitch black to make a light source (having no backup); Rebo succeeded in finding material to make a single torch, but doing so caused him to become greatly unnerved at the feeling that something was watching them in the dark, making him deeply Afraid. Our two adventurers were also Exhausted from starvation.
13. The makeshift torch was lit with the tinderbox and the two were able to see the aftermath of the conflict: the bodies of the undead lay strewn about, but the corpse of the Ghoul was nowhere to been seen. The body of Morris almost wasn't spotted, hidden underneath the zombie he had skewered. The pair dragged him to the middle of the chamber where Falgaff attempted a Healer Test upon him; a failure resulted in Falgaff being unable to bring the barely living mage to consciousness.
14. With little time and light left in their makeshift torch, the pair opted to drag Morris back to the dimly lit entrance of the Keep, where they could perhaps make camp and regroup. Before doing so Falgaff retrieved Hrolf's sword from the undead corpse and invested the triggered coffin: to his dismay it contained nothing but a simple white silken blindfold for use in casting Supernal Vision. He then brought all his talents to bare and succeeded on a Pathfinder Test to make their way back to the foyer. Once there, Falgaff risked following his Instinct and made a successful Survivalist Test to ensure a safer camp in an area of potential traffic.

Camp Phase - Minor Inconvenience: Rebo discovered a blow he had taken during one of the conflicts had dented his remaining oil flask and it had slowly leaked to empty.

  • With great patience and care, Falgaff slowly drip fed the last Healing Potion into Morris' mouth and grievous wounds: eventually removing the Injury condition Morris was suffering and awakening him. Morris still had a long recovery ahead of him (having every other condition from being left for dead) but it was a start.
  • The company alleviated their base need for sustenance by eating some rations and food conjured by the magic handbell, thus removing their gnawing Hunger and Thirst.
  • Falgaff spent one of his two checks recovering successfully from his Anger; in hindsight, a damaged bow is of little concern compared against their very lives.
  • Falgaff gave his one other check to Morris, who also removed his own Anger; he considered that he was very lucky to be alive.
  • Perhaps fuelled by his feverish state, Morris and company had an interesting 2nd-hand conversation with the spirit of Barrik residing within Falgaff's head: The magician hypothesized that since one is supposedly unable to make a gelatin dessert containing the fresh tropical fruit known as "pine-apple", one may be able to create a weaponized extract from it to use against the Gelatinous Cube that lay between the group and the unsearched areas of the Keep they wished to explore. When asked where and how they would acquire these "pine-apples", Morris projected that the magic handbell might be able to conjure some up...
  • After this very interesting conversation, the party reluctantly broke camp.

Adventure Phase

  1. Summoning all his will and forethought, Falgaff managed to pull off a successful Pathfinder Test and led the pathetic trio back to the village.

Town Phase - Morris reached 2nd level upon entering town; Rebo spent enough rewards to hit 2nd level but won't level up until their next visit. 

  • The first order of business once they were within the bounds of Torlynn was finding accommodation, and since the group had very little in the way of resources between them, they decided to swallow their collective pride and request (i.e. beg) for assistance from Gustovan the Burgomaster. After a long conversation and berating over the little amount of progress and the snide comments on his administration Morris had made to the public; the Burgomaster, whom claimed he still had the best interests of the townfolk at heart, agreed to set them up at his residence for a short time whilst they recuperated before heading back to the keep to solve the problem once and for all. Gustovan also made it clear that his patience in 'free-loading adventurers' had grown thin, and claimed that the next time he saw the group in his town they best have cleared the curse.
  • Settling into the granted lodging, Rebo, Morris, and Falgaff took full advantage of the free if sparse amenities and recovered their Afraid and Exhausted conditions. 
  • Before attempting to recover their more serious ills, the group sought ways to aid the removal of their afflictions: Morris with the help of Falgaff spent an entire day making a Scavenger Test to recover medicinal herbs for making into healing and sickness poultices respectively. Falgaff was dismayed when he realized that crafting said poultices was probably beyond his skill as a healer to make, so they remained as supplies for future use.
  • The group decided to seek divine aid in the removal of their respective Injuries and Sickness, and they met with Father Relmark of the local chapel of the Immortals. Having no coin for donation, they beesched the cleric for aid in their 'duty' to cleanse the Keep and land of Torlynn of this unnatural winter and managed to convince Relmark with a successful Persuade Test. Proclaiming that since they had no tribute to sacrifice to the Immortals that would be granting this boon, the trio would have to spend the remainder of their days in town fasting, cleansing themselves of sin. (This imposed on each PC a Hungry/Thrist condition that didn't interfere with order of recovery but that couldn't be removed until they left town. Rebo claimed it should be illegal keeping a halfling hungry.) A handsome tithe was also promised to the order upon return to Torlynn. In return, the cleric blessed the each party member with The Breath of the Burning Lord, granting a +1D to respective recovery tests. Miraculously Morris' fever broke, and Rebo's arm was healed to use, but alas the Immortals' gift was of no use to the Elf in healing his ribs; Falgaff was beginning to greatly dislike the proudly unrepentant spirit of Barrik that dwelt within his head, whom Falgaff blamed for the reason why the divine boon did not work on him.
  • With aid of Morris, Falgaff then turned to his own healer arts in a last ditch attempt to cure his Injury before having to resign to being crippled by it: an explosion of fate point-fueled 6s proved that his ribs weren't broken all along, they were just subluxated and he popped them back into place.
  • With a bit of free time and some "borrowed" tools, Morris distilled a lye solution from ashes in the Burgomaster's fireplace into the empty healing potion jar via an Alchemist Test for later use.
  • Morris then stood in the centre of the market place and made an impassioned speech via a Orator Test on the groups' noble cause with the intent to make the merchants more susceptible to the following Haggler Test. Both were successful, but the resulting Haggling Event rolled was disappointingly similar to the last: Hard Bargain or Thriftiness.
  • Rebo again took advantage of the two-for-one deal of Hard Bargain to buy lighting supplies but it turned out the only merchant who was willing to make said deal was the same dealer the group got into a argument with last time. Rebo eventually got a set of Torches with a free set of Candles, but was made Angry by the whole barter process.
  • The group finally decided they best return to Barrik's Keep to find Hrolf and end the cursed winter once and for all, or die trying. Rebo and Falgaff initially managed to pay their dues, but Morris had made one too many favours and was pulled aside by the town watch: they explained that several of the folk had made complaints on his 'parasitic behaviour', and the watch had been requested to bar him from future entry into the village unless he is able to pay his debts. Rebo and Falgaff had their own financial credibility lowered by association with this deadbeat.

Exiting Torlynn into the wilderness was where we concluded this session.

Character Condition Status
  • Falgaff Bitterleaf - Hungry and Thirsty.
  • Morris the Mirthful - Hungry and Thirsty.
  • Rebo Pepper - Hungry and Thirsty, Angry.
  • Hrolf Rosensloff - Angry, Afraid, and Exhausted [Absent]
  • Joseph - Exhausted [Absent]

Things I forgot: I realized after the last session I had been running Tapped Nature totally incorrectly; for some reason I thought you added your flat Nature rating to the result you rolled, but this made it way too easy for any PC to just auto-pass a Test. We now correctly add a number of dice to your pool equal to your current Nature rating.

The other thing I discovered we were forgetting was wise use: Initially I thought wises could be used to augment a Test in any appropriate situation for free, and only the Fate and Persona point rerolls cost anything. I must've totally glossed over the part that using a wise four times differently (in Pass & Failed Tests, in Deeper Understanding, and in Of Course!) granted a perk! This means that one can cycle out wises, or advance related skills; which adds another avenue for character advancement to our collective, pleasant surprise.

Until Next Time... ;{١

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Emergent (Plug &) Play

So, what have I been up to the past couple weeks?
Well if you been following this blog you'll have seen that my recent posts have been Actual Play records of the bi-weekly Torchbearer game I run. I must say I am having a great time with this game, I hope and believe my players are enjoying themselves likewise.

Aside from the obvious what else have I been doing? I've been sporadically playing in a Cyberpunk 2020 game on Fridays, and as of last Thursday looks like I'll be playing in a bi-weekly 1e Warhammer Fantasy game with a new group of players starting the week following. Looks like I'm trying out some old school stuff from the late 80's/early 90's, we'll see how it holds up to the RPGs of today. I also played in an X-Wing Miniatures tournament a few weeks ago; I didn't place nor did I expect anything beyond having fun.

I've also picked up a pair of running shoes; the plan being to jog/run home from work in the evenings and my days off to get more exercise than how I normally do via walking. Once I have the sufficient funds hopefully I can get my bicycle rebuilt to as the climate in Victoria is just perfect for outdoor activity.

The main reason for this post (apart of breaking the monotony of my TB APs) was that I wanted to plug a youtube series that my buddy +Larry Spiel made over a year ago about Roleplaying Theory called Emergent Play. I was dismayed to discover that this excellent series had already run its course and ended about a year ago before I even knew about it nor had time to actively participate in any of its discussion. Nonetheless, it's still worth watching afterwards for the keen insight Larry and his guests have on our favourite hobby. You can also follow the currently defunct Emergent Play on G+ here.

As far as all that I have no new news of note. Instead of finding something of interest here, go check out Emergent Play!

Cheers! ;{١

Friday, 6 June 2014

Torchbearer AP - Part 3: Town Time in Torlynn

When we last left our adventurers, they had just found their way out of Barrik's Keep and were intent on travelling back to the nearby village of Torlynn. Riley S recapped the previous session during Prologue and removed Hunger and Thirst from Hrolf.

Dramatis Personæ:
  • Fraser ... Morris the Mirthful [Human Magician] An anarchistic arcanist with a big mouth and several opinions.
  • Jason ... Rebo Pepper [Halfling Burgler] A quiet and pleasant little person who seeks loot to feed his love of food.
  • Riley S ... Hrolf Rosensloff [Human Warrior] - A fighter of such short stature he's often mistaken for a dwarf.
  • Stephen ... Joseph [Human Cleric] - A jaded ex-felon who found religion in gaol and became a cleric. Absent.
  • Scotty ... Falgaff Bitterleaf [Elven Ranger] - A curious, knowledge-loving Elf who's a bit of a loner.

Adventure Phase

6. Exiting the Keep our party found that a chill wind had picked up and the snow had started to fall thicker (the result of a Twist last session). The two sets of tracks that led south-westerly, presumably belonging to Joseph and Rebo, were beginning to fade to wind and weather. Twilight was approaching soon and the loss of daylight combined with the snowfall limited visibility. The recently 'rescued' Blingo discarded the burnt out torch he was carrying and Hrolf took point in attempting to lead the party back to Torlynn with a Pathfinder Test; unfortunately despite help from his companions the Exhaustion he was suffering from caused him to lead them astray and they all became lost in the woods.
 7. Traipsing through snowy landscape was weary work, and everyone had to make a Health Test to weather the elements modified by +1 for being lost (and +1 to Morris for having no footwear.). Failure resulted in Hrolf becoming Angry at being cold, wet, and lost whereas Morris became Injured with frostbitten feet.

Camp Phase 

  • With twilight upon the adventures, they decided to make camp in the snowy wilderness and wait out the night and the weather. Instinct drove Falgaff to making a successful Survivalist Test, building a basic shelter from the elements, thus making a Safe Camp. Once inside everyone drank some water to alleviate their Thirst. Morris was the only one with a check, but he gave it to Hrolf, who downed his wineskin and attempted to quell his Anger; unfortunately this just made him drunk and miserable. The remainder of the night was spent shivering till the dawn arrived with a clear sky.

Adventure Phase

  1. Morris tried untrained to get their bearings with a Beginner's Luck Scout Test, to no avail.
  2. Falgaff climbed up a tree and managed to spy the village laying behind yonder hill with a Scout Test. His Remembering Nature enabled him to recall to safe route to the settlement from the lay of the land he had observed overhead.

Torlynn in the throes of a magical winter.

Torlynn (Cursed)

This once-proud alpine town is now dilapidated and decrepit. Many of its homes are vacant, abandoned by their former owners when a foul magic crept upon the region and placed Torlynn under the curse of eternal winter. There are still a few humans living in the town - a group of survivors who are convinced that the town is again destined for greatness.

Torlynn is under a perpetual Minor Inconvenience: Food Shortage that boarders Disaster: Famine for as long as the magical winter continues. The temperature is mild enough during the warmer months to not trigger a Winter Phase, but still cold enough to deter plant growth. It is advised that the GM not roll on the Town Events Table during such curse, but if they wish to do so, a -1 penalty should be applied to the roll to represent the poor state of affairs and any Disaster rolled automatically results in a Famine.

Available Locations

Tavern (the Grinning Goblin), Street, Inn (the Soft Pillow), Homes: (the Burgomaster's [Inn equivalent], Clyde the Merchant's [Flophouse equivalent], Blingo the Carpenter's [Flophouse equivalent], empty buildings [Stables equivalent; squatting has an initial 0 lifestyle cost, but landlords attempt to charge 'rent' if squatters are discovered (An immediate Ob 1 Res Test followed by lifestyle cost of +1) or force them onto the Street. Treat squatting as Hiding Out.]), Temple (Limited Services, Prayers are +1 to the Ob cost), Market (Limited, no food available for purchase), Guild Hall: Guilds Limited to: 
  1. Blacksmiths
  2. Bakers
  3. Butchers
  4. Carpenters
  5. Tanners
  6. Leathercrafters
Locations struckthrough are unavailable during cursed winter.

Alignment: unaffiliated


  • Magicians may not testify before a judge.
  • Purposed: All magicians and elves must wear conical hats. Failure to do so punishable by whipping or a fine (Ob 3 Res Test).

Home Skills: Labourer, Leathercraft, Carpenter
Home Traits: Stubborn, Rough Hands

Additional Notes: 

  • Haggling Obstacle 3
  • A thieves guild, which operated secretly out of warehouse, closed its doors even before the disaster struck. They left some of their items behind, but also left traps to protect these items. Characters making it their business to nose around abandoned buildings may stumble upon this trapped hideout. (Roll once on Loot Table 1 for each trap encountered/bypassed.)

Town Phase

  • The group arrived at Torlynn just as Rebo was leaving the local gaol and some trouble involving Joseph (best not mentioned). After some discussion they decided to hit the market first with their gains in an attempt to procure supplies. The thankful but forgotten Blingo rapidly made off for his own dwelling.
  • Both Morris and Rebo successfully Haggled with the merchants respectively; the group took stock of their resources and had loot appraised:
- Set of Silverware and Plate: Worth 2D.
- Bag of Silver Coins: Worth 1D cash.
 -Platinum Necklace: Worth 4D+1D for being an Interesting Item.
  • After a bit of explanation on how Resource Tests and Treasure Dice work out of game, Hrolf hit upon the Good Idea to find someone to exchange the costly necklace into dividable wealth and met with the Rebo's friend Clyde the Merchant, who then traded several large bags of copper coin of equivalent value for the necklace.
  • The group decided the best way to spend wealth was to give each member 2D worth of treasure, and they would then attempt to establish buyer credibility by purchasing inexpensive Ob 1 items, eventually building up rep to purchase more expensive things with assistance from each other.
  • Falgaff bought a Large Sack and Morris a new Satchel; Hrolf attempted to buy some Wine but failed, the Twist being with Tavern closed, no wine was for available for sale. 
  • With backing from Morris and Falgaff, Rebo purchased a Lantern and as a part two-for-one deal (Hard Bargain) also a Bow set, which he then gave to Falgaff for use.
  • They then tried to buy a couple Flasks of Oil, but ended up in a shouting match with the shopkeep over the price. In the end the flasks were obtained but the three of them were made Angry by the argument.
  • Morris visited a recommended leathercrafter, who sold him a nice, if slightly oversized pair of boots to fit his swollen feet. Having secure footwear again, Morris finally quaffed a Potion of Healing, to remove his frostbite Injury.
  • After all the treasure was spent, the group began to think about accommodations whilst in town. Morris, Falgaff, and Hrolf considered squatting in an abandoned building if Clyde's hospitality had worn out for them. Rebo visited Clyde and managed to convince his friend to open his common room floor again to the group, and Rebo would in turn keep them all well-fed.
  • Once housing was sorted out, Morris decided to further display his distaste in the mayorship of Torlynn by standing a top the burnt out divan and ranting to any locals willing to listen his rhetoric. The resulting Orator Test was unable to sway the meagre crowd much, but it did relieve Morris of his own Anger.
This explains Morris in a nutshell.
  • Whilst that was going on, Falgaff  paid a visit Gustovan the Burgomaster at his residence with intent to vent his own Anger about a perceived situation: he and his original companions were given no search party following their disappearance in the Keep. Gustovan countered that he had no proof that the group led by Elladin Silvercrest (which Falgaff was apart of) hadn't just taken the Burgomasters modest payment and run off with it; additionally no one from Torlynn was experienced let alone willing enough to explore the Keep. Falgaff then accused Gustovan of living in luxury whilst the villagers near starved, which the Burgomaster presented his near empty larder as proof that his own supply went to the most needy. In the end Gustovan offered the elf room and board to make some amends for unwittingly abandoning Falgaff and his compatriots.
  • Spending time with his friend cleared away Rebo's Anger at the local shopkeep, a bath and the Burgomaster's hospitality wiped away Falgaff's own Anger, and but alas even after downing Rebo's wineskin, Hrolf was still miserable and was beginning to gain a small reputation as an Angry drunkard. Everyone rested for the night at their respective accommodations.
  • Falgaff and Morris spent a bit of time going over the recently acquired spell book; Falgaff managed to learn and scribe Supernal Vision and Eldritch Darts in his own book, whereas Morris only learned Eldritch Darts.
  • When they had finished, Hrolf asked the two magic-users to inspect the odd skull containing a candle he recovered from the Keep. Falgaff recalled similar use of such in rituals to contain or summon ones' spirit after death, the candle wick inside being the trigger. Falgaff was very curious to light it and see what would happen, but they decide to do it outside, with thanks from Clyde.
  • All four were present when Falgaff lit the candle within the skull; at first nothing happened, then suddenly the sky grew dark and the ghostly image of a long bearded, hunched wizard appeared before the characters and pompously announced himself as Barrik, master of the unknown and tamer of shadows! All made a Will Test against this terrifying apparition; and (un)fortunately, only Hrolf was driven Afraid by such sorcery. 
Now imagine that with the voice of Red Mantle from Venture Bros.
  • After a brief dialogue with wherein Barrik declared that he sensed an evil presence in his home, and demanded the adventures seek out and remove the source of which is no doubt tied to the cursed winter that has the land under pall. Being a disembodied spirit, Barrik was unable assist the group physically, but was able to impart knowledge of both his Keep as well as some magical teachings to the one who'd carry his spirit; between the elf and the magician, he arbitrarily chose Falgaff to be his vessel.
  • A burst of flame spewed forth from the eye-sockets of the skull and engulfed Falgaff, making him to scream in pain and collapse to the ground looking dead. The sky returned to normal illumination and inspection of the elf revealed he was alive and unharmed. The somewhat loud and grating voice of Barrik echoed inside his head, occasionally imparting wisdom but mostly making inane comments. (Falgaff gained an automatic Pass advancement for his Will for this trouble).
  • Being somewhat early in the day, the group decided to pack up and head back to the keep. Before leaving it was decided that the group would have to catch game to eat since there was no food to be purchased in town and the magic hand-bell only provided so much; Rebo went and acquired some hunting supplies such as snares and the like from market, during which Falgaff paid a visit to Blingo to retrieve the Potion of Healing he had inadvertently ran home with. 
  • Everyone then settled their financial affairs before leaving town: both Morris and Falgaff were forced to pay all they had remaining to the tax on their resources; Rebo still had some resources after he settled his bills; and Hrolf was frugal enough during his stay to build no lifestyle cost of note, which was good because he had no money to pay it with anyway. The party refilled their skins with water, and were on their way!

Adventure Phase

  1. Some distance out of town, Rebo passed the hunting supplies to Hrolf who set them up along a few game trails with the intent of snaring a small animal. A successful Hunter Test meant that before Hrolf had a chance to set up a third snare, his first had caught something; a small hare.
  2. The hare (worth one fresh portion) was given to Rebo, who turn performed a successfully assisted Cook Test and transformed the fresh carcass into three preserved rations.
  3. Again our adventures became lost in the woods looking for Barrik's Keep with a failed Pathfinder Test.
  4. After some small discussion, a successful Pathfinder Test this time by Falgaff led the group to the Keep. They quenched their freshly acquired Thirst with their water-skins.
  5. Stepping into the dimly lit entry way, the party recalled the entrances they had passed through when they were first in the Keep. Morris recalled something said about odd lights being seen in a tower, and Falgaff inquired to the spirit of Barrik in his head if there was another tower in the building aside from the collapsed one seen outside and visited  inside by second group. Barrik said yes and gave Falgaff general directions, which he then relayed to the rest of the party; Morris bemoaned upon recalling that such directions led into the area the White Widow spider had fled when they had driven it off last time they were here. Morris lit and carried the lantern and they proceeded cautiously down the eastern corridor. As they neared the broken tower Morris faintly heard a humming noise ahead; he recalled that it was a sound created by the wind playing over thin stands and it created a lulling supernatural melody that created lethargic feelings to those that heard it. Morris had a Good Idea of stuffing the tallow from the candle inside Barrik's skull in their ears to block the sound, much to Barrik's dismay; he considering that candle part of what remained of his physical form. There was just enough tallow in the candle to sufficiently block the earways of everyone, and they were able to pass the lulling strands unaffected.
  6. The passageway Barrik told them to proceed down was partially blocked by debris; Morris attempted to remove the rubble silently with an untrained Labourer Test, but failed and generated such a racket that it was easily heard even through their wax-filled ears. The group was unnerved at the prospect that something else might've heard that noise.
  7. Proceeding through the now unblocked passageway, they briefly glanced into two entryways on their left; they opened to the dinning room and kitchen they had visited before respectively. Pushing forward they eventually entered a dark square chamber similar to the collapsed tower that seemed to radiate cold even more so than usual in the chilly keep. In the light of the lantern, four broken pine coffins rested upon stone slabs along the far wall of the room. The hairs on the back of our delvers' necks began to stand on end as four dark shapes began to rise from the caskets! Three of them resembled rotten corpses and had jerky, stilted movements, whilst the other moved with a feral-like grace. It's eyes burned with a malevolent intelligence, and a long wicked tongue licked gleaming fangs! In a raspy voice it croaked, "Kill these intruders so I might feast upon their flesh!"

And the session was ended on that cliffhanger! Next game, a Conflict will ensue!

Character Condition Status
  • Falgaff Bitterleaf - No Condition
  • Morris the Mirthful - Exhausted
  • Rebo Pepper - No Condition
  • Hrolf Rosensloff - Angry, Afraid, and Exhausted
  • Joseph - Exhausted [Absent]

Things I forgot: Not much this time I think, mostly it was just us trying to wrap our heads around the broad, general nature of Resources.

Until next time...

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Torchbearer AP - Part 2: Unexpected Victims

Here's the play record for our recent Torchbearer game last Thursday: 

Initially, all but Jason were able to attend the session; a friend of mine, Scotty, was interested in joining us since his regular Thursday Pathfinder-turned-Hackmaster game had been moved to Wednesdays, so I invited him on board ASAP, as I was looking for another player to fill out the common absentees. Plus the more the merrier. It also turns out fortuitous for us as Stephen ended up being unable to attend as well.

Relatively quickly, Scotty made an Elf Ranger named Falgaff Bitterleaf. His reason for wandering Barrik's Keep alone was that he was a part of the original explorer group that was never heard of again. Only recently has he regained conciousness in the pitch dark of the chilly keep. Since Fraser was the only player present from last session and he gave the last Prologue, I recalled what the party had done up to this point.

Dramatis Personæ:
  • Fraser ... Morris the Mirthful [Human Magician] An anarchistic arcanist with a big mouth and several opinions.
  • Jason ... Rebo Pepper [Halfling Burgler] A quiet and pleasant little person who seeks loot to feed his love of food.
  • Riley S ... Hrolf Rosensloff [Human Warrior] - A fighter of such short stature he's often mistaken for a dwarf.
  • Stephen ... Joseph [Human Cleric] - A jaded ex-felon who found religion in gaol and became a cleric.
  • Scotty ... Falgaff Bitterleaf [Elven Ranger] - A curious, knowledge-loving Elf who's a bit of a loner.

Turn Count

  • Camp Phase - The four party members decided to spend the beginning of the session with a much needed camp phase to spend checks on attempting to remove several of the conditions accrued. A rolled camp event gave them a minor inconvenience of +1 Ob to recover from exhaustion due to dust kicked up on site. Rebo cooked some rations to feed the group after convincing Morris that making a edible meal from the spiders' leg he had been carrying would be difficult at best; and thus everyone recovered from Hunger and Thirst. Morris placed the leg in a cool place to preserve it for later. Hrolf attempted to overcome his Afraid condition but to no avail.  Morris quelled his Anger upon discovering the rip in his kilt wasn't as bad as he originally thought. Rebo and Joseph together decided to head back to Torlynn to gather some needed supplies (such as more light sources) for this expedition. They headed back once camp was broken.

  1. Wielding a fresh torch, Morris and Hrolf decided against common sense and continued exploring: They came upon the kitchen connected to the dinning room. Evidently the two ratlings whom they fought were in the middle of butchering a small fawn they had hunted by a small lit cast-iron stove, its warmth pushing back the chill air. Morris was elated at the prospect of free food (even though they just ate). Meanwhile, Falgaff Bitterleaf, whom was a member of the previous ill-fated expedition in the Keep, had recently awakened from some sort of stasis and had been crawling in the pitch black for an immeasurable amount of time desperately trying to escape the Keep. Sighting the torchlight being cast by the two delvers, he crept up to the doorway to the kitchen. Upon seeing the shanks of meat Morris was collecting, Falgaff overcame his caution and treated with the Magician and apparent dwarf for the chance to sate his Hunger and gain safety in numbers. After an exchange of questions, an untrained Morris attempted a Cook Test using the stove to roast the shanks of meat; the resulting failure meant the already dwindling embers had gone out.
  2. Using his tinderbox, Hroft with the assistance of Falgaff relit the stove with a successful Survivalist Test.
  3. Morris succeeded this time on his Cook Test and everyone enjoyed roast venison.
  4. The trio decided to backtrack Falgaff's gropings in the dark to perhaps discover what happened to his companions. Going left at a junction, the group came upon a bare chamber chilled by a breeze wafting in through a large crack in the wall. Thinking only a person of such short stature could squeeze through such an opening, Hrolf attempted to do so with a Dungeoneering Test, using his Short trait to his detriment to gain a check. He failed and was stuck. (After all he wouldn't be able to get stuck in the first place if he was normal height!) He also decided to crawl in before handing off the lit torch to his companions, who now had very little light to see by.
  5. Hrolf came upon a Good Idea to use a flask of oil he had to lubricate himself, but realized he was both unable to reach into his satchel, and that trying to smear oil on his person whilst holding an open flame might be a bad idea. Hrolf tried to pass the torch back using a Heath Test but succeeded only in moving the lit end closer to his body; he was in serious danger of burning himself/lighting his clothes on fire. Morris quickly snuffed the torch head with the hem of Hrolf's red coat.
  6. Morris managed to retrieve an oil flask from Hrolf's inventory and liberally applied it to his companion to the best of his ability. Taking the lead and grasping Hrolf's legs, Falgaff managed to pull the well-lubed short man free of the crack with a Dungeoneer Test
  7. After a new torch was lit, the trio continued on and discovered the remains of a large ballroom complete with old chandeliers, that was now filled with piles of refuse and garbage. Using an Instinct, Hrolf checked for tracks using a Scout Test; he successfully found trails left by ratlings, along with a meandering wake made by the then blind Halgaff (who also recalled this chamber by the horrid stench it had). The tracks made by both groups had recently been wiped away in spots by an unknown source. Morris decided to attempt a Scavenge Test to find something useful amidst the heaps of rotting garbage; upon plunging his hands into a pile of oozing refuse he immediately regretted his decision; like a terrible-smelling jello salad, Morris realized a pile contained a Gelatinous Cube feasting on the scum! Evidently Morris tasted better than waste because it began to pull him in!
  8. A Flee Conflict ensued! (Admittedly I didn't want any PC deaths so soon into our game, so I ran the conflict as a Flee instead of the rather merciless special Trapped Conflict that Creeping Oozes have.) The Cube moved to engulf Morris as he tried to back away. Falgaff attempted to pull the Mage free as the Cube began to suck him in. He ended up slipping on the slick floor and completely knocked himself out. Hrolf managed to distract the Cube by Riding a table onto pile of trash and knocking it over onto it. Morris attempted to brace himself and rouse the unconscious Halgaff but the Cube suddenly relent its grip on Morris' numb arms and pulled him inside legs first! Hrolf, by his lonesome, desperately managed to pull a somewhat digested Morris free of the Cube and his companions hastily fled the dinning hall. Most of Morris' gear was consumed by the Cube: his cloak, satchel (which contained rations and his spellbook), his boots, and a ring that aided in casting Wisdom of the Ancients. And on top of all that the Cubes' paralytic jelly made him Exhausted! Falgaff was Angry he didn't help his new-found saviours in the conflict, and poor Hrolf was already too Exhausted and Afraid to suffer much more. Undoubtedly the simple-minded Cube was content enough with the piles of garbage not pursue them further.

  • The group fled into what appeared to be a sitting room complete with two chairs, a low table, and a couch. On the table was an old yellowed skull missing its top; a stubby candle sat within the skull making it resemble a jack-o'-lantern. Hrolf stowed the skull-candle in his pack. Falgaff successfully used his Instinct to buttress the furniture against the entrances making a more secure and comfortable Camp. The +1 result added to a roll of 11 on the Camp Event table generated a Lucky Break for the party! They found a prisoner, bound and gagged behind the couch! Hrolf recognised him as Blingo, a villager from Torlynn who was in the process of loading his possessions on a cart to leave town. In a frantic, worried tone he related how he was abducted from his home in the dead of night by a swarm of ratlings, who tied him up and carried him off to the Keep. He got the impression that they stashed him in this room to eat later. Falgaff shared some of his stale rations with Blingo to calm him down whilst he successfully took a deep breath and reminded himself that Elves should be above such base things as Anger. After looking at their situation in retrospect, Hrolf saw that their current survival as heartening and managed to stop being Afraid. Using his own first-hand surveying with sparse, unreliable advice from Falgaff and Blingo, Morris attempted to deduce the layout of the keep to plan a way out. Failure resulted in a poor map and each was unsure which way to go or where exactly they were.
  1. The group decided to follow Blingo's vague memory of which door he recalled being brought into the room by; Blingo adamantly attempted to stay behind in said room whilst the group scouted a way out of the Keep. A short Argument Conflict (which could've been simplified as a Presuade or Manipulator Test) had Falgaff convince Blingo he was safer with the group, and he became their Torchbearer.
  2. They opened the door and entered a study of some sorts, furnished with a large oak desk with comfy chair, bookshelves, a stained rug, and display rack of a suit of plate armour. On top of the table was a large book, its pages yellowed with age; this caught the attention of both Morris and Falgaff, whom both moved toward the book. Taking not more than two steps, the suit of armour shuddered with a mockery of life, hefted an wicked looking axe, and began to bring it to bare against Morris. A Drive Off Conflict ensued! Morris with Falgaff's help used their arcane knowledge to 'disarm' the dweomer binding the golem's unshakable purpose to the room. The suit lashed out at the nearest target in response, which happened to be Falgaff, knocking him across the room with a blow from the flat side of the axe; the wind severely knocked out of him, Falgaff was unable to continue the fight. Hrolf drove his blade between the amoured plates of the golem, severing a few straps and buckles. Morris attempted to reach inside the suit to further disrupt the magical energies within, but the plates shifted closed and partially crushed his hand. The golem attempted to lure Hrolf into blocking an overhand chop, but Hrolf took advantage of the feint by attacking, but unfortunately striking for little damage. Morris tried to disrupt the constructs' senses by turning its helm around; unfortunately the golem was more flexible than men and was able to deal a mighty blow to Morris from its reverse side. Hrolf, again the last member able to fight, pressed the attack; he managed to 'decapitate' the suit rendering it immobile, but the momentum of the constructs' axe swing sliced Hrolf across his face, blinding him in one eye. The Conflict ended in a Tie; the golem was rendering blind and deaf at the loss of its 'head' but retained a firm grip on its axe, and the impression was gained that it would lash out blindly if molested further. Hrolf gained an Injury from the struggle but took the head of the golem as a helmet.
  3. After regaining themselves, Morris handed Blingo their last torch to light as the other began to fade, he and Halgaff together examined the tome on the desk, which was a spellbook filled with formulae for Eldritch Darts, Supernal Vision, Thread of Friendship, and Lord of Dreams. Morris took the book and he and Falgaff agreed to compare arcane notes at a later, safer time. Cursory inspection of the bookshelves found no magical books; all were mostly of general interest with no common topic between them all, and the majority were too worm-eaten to be of any worth let alone read anyway. The desk yielded nothing but old scribes' tools. Falgaff elected to search the room for hidden valuables via a Scout Test and discovered a locked trapdoor underneath the rug. 
  4. Hrolf decided to try and smash open the trapdoor's lock using the corner of his kite shield and a brute Health Test. He succeeded in doing so without breaking the fragile contents within the small compartment: 3 bottles of a similar translucent liquid, a bag of silver coins, and a platinum necklace. Morris quickly deduced the necklace was non-magical, and the sharp fruity alcohol (we were drinking apricot beer that session so we figured it tasted like that) in the bottles were Potions of Healing! Hrolf quaffed a draught and smashed the bottle in triumph when his facial wound knit together and sight was restored to his eye, recovering his Injury! Morris groaned that the empty bottle could've been useful.
  5. The group decided to backtrack to the previous room and try the other door. It opened to the familiar sight of the entrance of the keep, the front door laying open just across the room, daylight spilling in through it! The groups' elation and relief was tempered with well-learned caution; Hrolf's Instinct had him look for fresh tracks: he found two pairs exiting the keep he believed belonged to their companions Rebo and Joseph. A Scout test was called looking for an ambush, but since there was none awaiting them the party rapidly exited Barrik's Keep into the daylight! Our hapless heroes now make for Torlynn, with intent to get some Triple-R (Rest, Recuperation, Resupply) with their new found loot!

Character Condition Status
  • Falgaff Bitterleaf - Hungry and Thirsty
  • Morris the Mirthful - Hungry and Thirsty, Exhausted
  • Rebo Pepper - [Absent]
  • Hrolf Rosensloff - Hungry and Thristy, Exhausted
  • Joseph - Exhausted [Absent]

Things I forgot: Armour, again! And mistaking how help can only be given if you have training in the same skill; not true, because you use a Suggested Help Skill for a similar skill. Additionally I should be referring to the Procedure pages near the back of the book to make sure we're not missing any rules and for smoothing play. At least I remembered the Mightier Rule, which made the conflicts with the Gelatinous Cube and Armour Golem quite tough.

Until next time...

Friday, 16 May 2014

Black Goat Games Offerings

I thought for today we'd take a look at some of the recent work Black Goat Games, a local indie RPG material creator, has produced. Officially started last autumn, creator and head goat Steve Saunders of BGG has the shrine filled with many sinister braziers alight with dark thoughts:

Ye Nerterological Abecedarium (aka, Dance of Death Alphabet)

As of this post, there a two alphabetical PDF entries available on BBG's website for free: A is for Arjetkainen, and R is for Regimental Revenant.

Undead Armies

Well written and laid out, both these are excellent sources of inspiration for unique and terrible undead to use in your games. I can't wait to see more entries in Ye Nerterological Abecedarium.

Little Things: The First Offering

The content in Little Things (in fact the majority of all material produced by BGG) is written to be system-neutral, but one would be remiss not to mention that the contents are what the author Mr. Saunders refers to as 'grimdark'; material that fits best with games such as Lamentations of the Flame PrincessWarhammer Fantasy Role Play, or any similar dark/weird fantasy RPG and their ilk.

For the worth of a Twoonie (that's two dollars for the uninitiated) Black Goat Games' first purchasable publication Little Things: The First Offering is now available online through RPGNow and DriveThruRPG.

The question on most gamers' minds will be if this scant offering of nearly 30 pages worth it's weight in digital copper pieces? Well, you're here so I suppose you want to hear my impressions:

This Offering is laid out in 8 'chapters' each a handful of pages in length, covering each a topic. About half of the material laid out in the is already available on the BGG website, the rest is first time seen material.

  • The Urmakabus (a creature) - A loathsome critter motivated by purely by instinct to enslave creatures, and whose blood is a powerful alchemical reagent.
  • Cornerstone Keep (a location) - Some details on an extended cannibalistic, inbred family dwelling in the keep a league north of a local village. A decent adventure seed.
  • The Kofron (a creature) - This is one of my two favourite entries; it lists the Krofron entities and the bizzare possible physiognomies and motivations such ultraterrestrials may have; it just screams use in a science-fantasy game like Numenera or a weird fantasy game like LotFP.
  • Tentacled brain-sucker (creature tables) - Probably the entry I found the least useful. Tentacled brain-suckers are a well known trope in several RPGs from the Mind Flayers of D&D to any number of unnameable things in Call of Cthulhu, but I don't see tables to customize them getting that much use unless a GM wants to put a spin on an old hat. And if they are frequently, that might mean the GM's making such creatures a little to common in their games, which can be a problem of its own.
  • You arrive at a village... (randomized tables) - A few tables aiding in the random creation of a settlement and any insidious secrets it may hold.
  • You have found something... horrible (tables) - Good tables for generating the scene and setting of horrific random encounter.
  • Someplace Something, Rather (a blank location map with a few tables) - My other choice entry; a very well done, full page floorplan of a structure. What is the place, who owns it, what kind of details and encounters may one find in it? Inspirations abound.
  • What's in the box? (random item generation) - The PCs open a box, it contains...

If you'd like a few dark ideas for your fantasy games, I think you might like Little Things. It's got some good ideas, but it feels a little short to me. Since half of the content is available freely online (at the time of this writing), and the other half is mostly just tables, it also feels a little like a grab bag of stuff based around a general grimdark theme. Still for BGG's first foray into published material, it's off to a promising start. I think one should consider Little Things more of a sampler of the dark content that Black Goat Games can and will output in the future.

Personally I hope to see future purchasable instalments with a more constant theme, like booklet that describes and provides tables for a specific area and inhabitants. GMs can pick and choose the parts they like, or drop the whole thing piecemeal into a game.

Cheers! ;{١