Sunday, 20 September 2015

Kampi's Saga: Rumour Quest - Scenarios

If you don't know by now what this is, it's another entry in Kampi's Saga. The format of the Saturday before last was a little bit different than our usual single mission-plot structure, as it was the testing ground for a series of 'scenarios', smaller plots run by individual GMs and their NPC teams.

Aside from enjoying the day overall and the scenarios Kampi got swept up in, I personally feel that the concept of multiple lesser stories unfolding more interesting than the more common one large plot; it presents more of a living world and gives PCs a variety of events to choose from to incorporate themselves in.

I hope to see 'scenarios' more regular thing, even if its a single one tacked onto a regular mission or perhaps a tournament day. As for this past Saturday, I gave myself a tiny break from MC.

The second Day of the Moon
Month of Autumn
Local Year 5315

Rune: Raido
Divine Association: Signá, the Leader of the Valkyrja
Literal Meaning: Ride
Interpretations: Journey, Movement, Transition
  • Right-side: Beginning, Evolution, Progression
  • Inverted: Ending, Stagnation, Termination

Once again my faith has been tested.

Once again I was shown wanting by the gods I follow.

I am beginning to feel that no matter how strong my devotion, how much I strive to do the correct thing, perhaps I shall never be able to the ideal follower.

I began that day in Dagger Deep, as always, prepared for whatever dire events were to come. After weeks of practising and training with it, I finally carried my personal roundshield, engraved with the protective runes algiz, the rune of the goddess Brynhilda, the Shield-Maiden. May she sanctify it to ward me from the strikes of my foe.

As the quiet day progressed I began to feel imbued with confidence in my own ability and vigour, my mind filled with familiar revelations, and the vessel of my soul filled beyond its normal bounds.

I was ready to prove myself.

Events unfolded slowly before they became a cascade:

I was finally able to follow up on the invitation I was garnered over a fortnight past to join the Town Guard. The Mare was present that day and he directed me to the Captain of the Guard, Milo, who had recently returned from being abroad for some time. With several recruits, he went over the standard rules of the Guard and the laws we are expected in keep.

Odd fae-folk began to appear in the township; It was amusing to witness that the gallant fighter Ajax, so quick to boast of his deeds hunting sizeable beasts by his lonesome, was even quicker to flee the presence of a small fairy. Many say his apprehension stems from having his sex briefly altered from ingesting their lark food as a gift.

Rumours eventually began to trickle into town of some sort wight raising undead creatures out by the river Galadriel; just as Ajax and I were having a discussion of risking ones' life for the safety of others and undead were the used example. Kalliades of the Wild Ones was mustering a scout force to check the veracity of these rumours; I volunteered, and with a bit of goading, Ajax joined with us.

As a small party, we trekked all the way out to the elven river but encountered nothing but one individual during our travels: an accented man calling himself Alexandros, who claimed to be a member of a moral order called the Exorists. He questioned about the lay of the local lands and any sovereignty they belonged to, expounding he very recently arrived unto this land. We permitted him to accompany us since he seemed no immediate threat, through we watched him closely.

The woodland by the river appeared bereft of reports of undead; we broke off into small groups to search the surrounding land for any signs. Ajax pointed out sections of upturned soil and bent foliage, but he believed they were dated; perhaps there is some truth to his abilities as a keen hunter despite his boasting.

As the pair of us thoroughly scouted the riverbank, we quickly responded to shouts of alarm. Once we had burst through the thicket, we saw a shambling force of undead monstrosities pursuing members of our company southerly, led by a animated corpse that practically radiated magic: a lich. We opted to loop around and attempt to regroup with our allies in lower Ork's Field. When we did, the group soon found ourselves becoming potentially trapped between the undead force in front of us and an antagonistic band of ork and goblinoid beings approaching from our rear.

A handful of us withdrew to a more defensible position, whilst those who lacked in such tactical insight, such as a pair of dimwitted jötunn, lumbered off in search the stones they had thrown. Despite meeting otherwise, some are still prosaic examples of their race.

After we narrowly avoided a violent encounter we rejoined the remainder of the friendly forces in town before we became caught with a vice between the onslaught of the undead forces and the marauding band of goblins demanding the whereabouts of 'Ogesh'.

After both groups had continued on their way, leaving many slain, we regrouped and decided that if we could obtain this 'Ogesh' (which we believed to be a sword of some sort given witnesses related seeing the 'skins rifle through the weapons of the fallen), we could perhaps use that as bargaining leverage to gain their assistance against the lich and his undead force.

During our quest for 'Ogesh', we decided send off a small scout force to search the deeper wilderness to the river; I joined the pair of Wild Ones selected for the task: Kalliades, whose soul was successfully recovered and returned to it's mortal vessel following the ritual fortnight prior, and Mortenkien, a 'witch hunter' in the service of the Wild Ones.

There was little time for conversation as our time together was travelling steadily and silently through the wilds; we encountered few friendly parties and staved off altercations with several unfriendly, but we were ultimately unsuccessful in discovering more information on the details or whereabouts 'Ogesh'.

When we returned to town just in time to bolster our allies during a conflict, we soon learned 'Ogesh' was a dagger the orks desired to complete a savage ritual of their own, which they succeeded in doing once they forcefully acquired the athame from an elderly bearded traveller (possibly Wodin in disguise?); given the folk of Dagger Deep were also busy with the undead scourge and other diversions, I'm sure they were unable to prevent them from doing so.

After much trial and tribulation, we routed the lich and his lifeless army; as before, when the threats to the Deep had been quelled, the abilities and confidence granted to me by the Æsir ebbed from my body, mind, and soul as exhaustion and doubt replaced them.

In my devotions that evening, I felt much... contempt and indecision; I recounted the actions of the day I performed, seeking the reason why. I had attempted to channel more fervour in the deeds I performed in the name of my gods and I felt I never faltered in my faith to them, yet still I had spurned them.

At last the epiphany came to me: unlike other deities, whose followers believe them to the highest embodiment of all that is physical, emotional, and spiritual, the Æsir (as related to my kin from the tales and sagas), their ardour reflects that of mortals; they are not stoic and indifferent, but passionate and prone to the same foibles as those born in the realms of Midgard. Other faiths would proclaim such sayings as some form of sacrilege; within my own creed I feel it is not.

In how this relates to the recent events is thus: I sensed that my deities felt that I was unfaithful when I received grace from outside of their domain; a blessing upon my blade, fully unbidden in actuality, from my mentor Relan in the name of his god, Ithus.

Though blessed by another god, that blade was wielded righteously and did true by this servant in the name of the Æsir. I respect Relan and his deity too much to cast aside their assistance just because I think some my consider such aid to be unfaithful to my own gods. I had learned that lesson before; despite initial reluctance I was even willing to eventually garner the divine boon proffered by the unsure alliance that was struct with high priestess of the Morrigan.

I understand if the Æsir forbid that I trust in trinkets enchanted with lesser forms of magic, but I will not forsake divine favour granted by other faiths in my duty, just as I would not keep my own gifts from my allies because of their own beliefs do not necessarily conform with my own.

The folk of Dagger Deep are a varied lot in race, culture, and creed; if it were of sufficient size, I would compare it to the fabled city Miklagard in its sheer cosmopolitan depth. I feel now that perhaps the best way to keep faith is to be willing to adapt and aid others.

If the Æsir continue to lose faith in me as their loyal servant, I shall endeavour to keep my faith in them, even if it is by another pursuit.

I wonder if Ajax is looking for an apprentice, I am interested in possibly continuing my martial studies...

Praise Be To The Æsir

-Ref 'Kampi' Vandillson

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

#RPGaDay2015 Entries

Having enjoyed last year's social media event, RPGaDay, I was keen to join in this year's August batch of queries; sadly I became too busy/distracted what with returning back to full-time at work, numerous projects, obligations and such, and thus I was unable to answer any of the questions beyond the 13th day. :(

Below is a compilation of the answers I did complete for those interested:

RPGaDay is back for another year and I'm already late to the party; I blame the local weekend-long LARP event I was at. I'll be posting my responses to the first three daily queries today but hopefully after that I'll be on track.

Allow me to start off these questions with the caveat that for the past several months I've haven't been focused on table-top as much I usually am, mainly because my gaming interest and time has been solely focused upon LARPing, so for many for these questions I won't have a ready answer to state and will require a bit of thought as I haven't been as keen to the latest RPG developments as I was previous years.

Day 1: Forthcoming Game You're Most Looking Forward To

After a bit of thought, I'm going to got with the upcoming version of Robert E. Howard’s CONAN: Adventures In An Age Undreamed Of, by Modiphius Entertainment. I, along with many other folk enjoy Mongoose Publishing's take of the sword & sorcery world of that savage Cimmerian, but I personally feel (as I've stated in the past) that the d20 system it runs upon is dated and a bit clunky for the high-action adventure that every Hyborian Age tale should contain.

As previously mentioned, I haven't been following this or really any other RPG, but as I've garnered the 2d20 system behind this game is rather cinematic and was designed by Jay Little, the brilliant designer of the narrative dice used in FFG's Star Wars RPG lines, so I suspect it'll fill that desire for cinematic, high adventure. It also has dozens of other well-known designers and artists attached to the line and also aims to mesh with the forthcoming Conan boardgame (another thing I backed on kickstarter), so I expect great things.

Day 2: Kickstarted Game Most Pleased You Backed

Let's have a quick browse through my meagre backer history on my KS account to discover the answer: Though I backed the 7th edition of Call of Cthulhu and the updated Horror on the Orient Express campaign nearly three years ago, I still have yet to receive any physical rewards so they don't count; Lusus Naturae, though excellent, isn't a standalone game per say, so I won't count it; my Numerena Reliquary Boxed Set is a standalone game but I didn't back the original kickstarter and bought the corebook at a FLGS, so also no; the Fate Core line delivered quite well but the one I believe I'm most pleased for plopping down cash for is Hillfolk: A Game of Iron Age Drama.

Although I've still yet to play this game, the chief reasons it pleases me the most are a) this book seriously made me think deeper about storytelling, scene-framing, narrative, etc. in games, b) such info has practical use in ALL incarnations of roleplaying regardless of system/genre, c) currently it is the least expensive RPG project I've backed (and didn't flop), and d) the designer/writer Robin D. Laws is a fellow Canadian.

Day 3: Favourite New Game Of The Past 12 Months

This is a tricky one, as I haven't really had the chance to play/acquire anything new as of the last RPGaDay series a year ago; I haven't even gotten around to picking up the books for the new 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Browsing my bookshelf and looking through my past archives it seems the only new game I've played/bought since was Mythender by Ryan Macklin at GottaCon 2015 back in February/March.

The designer himself ran a session of the game at our local convention and I enjoyed it and its over-the-top mythic, god-killing theme so much I brought a print copy and had it signed. To my shame though the book has been languishing since, just waiting to be read in its entirety and like so many of my other games unleashed upon unsuspecting players. I should really bump this game to the top of my reading queue.

For those interested, the PDF of Mythender is FREE. For those interested, check out to find out more.

Day 4: Most Surprising Game

A tough question to answer; is it specifically referring to which system one found the most surprising, or a particular session that went in a completely different direction? Is this a good or a bad surprise? I think I can answer all of those queries with two answers:

As far as an entire game being surprising, thinking back, I'd have to go with Mouse Guard: One has to admit the initial premise of playing as tiny little mice sounds a bit absurd (yet, at least for me, quite intriguing) but once I read the mechanics, saw the gorgeous art, played and experienced a truly unique RPG, I was pleasantly surprised just how brilliant it all of it worked together almost seamlessly. It got me both invested in the writer and artist, David Petersen, and the game designer, Burning Wheel HQ.

On an aside, at the beginning of this year it was announced that the Mouse Guard RPG was to be getting a 2nd revised edition, most likely containing rule changes similar to those used in Torchbearer (a game whose system is based off of Mouse Guard's) and some lore updates to match the current graphic novels. Initially it was said to be released in April, but that's yet to happen, though some believe its bound to be out soon; Paizo has it up on their site for preorder. I'd love to get my hands on a shiny new 2nd Ed boxed set.

Anyway, onto the most unsought surprising game session: Many years ago, when I was first meeting and gaming with a few of my friends here in Victoria, we played a GURPS fantasy campaign that to be honest had very little interesting occur during it. Our band spent the vast majority of their time figuring out logistics at a small border outpost we were stationed at. Eventually the neighbouring kingdom declared war upon the kingdom we were apart of and marched its forces through the mountain pass our keep guarded. One of our players (the fighty knight guy) rode out with our force with the intent to meet the invaders in battle, but in a surprising twist (that had no foreshadowing as far as we were concerned) his force joined with the attackers and wiped the garrison and most of the other PCs completely out.

Needless to say, several of us where quite butthurt at the switcheroo the player and GM pulled upon us with no hint or implication of treachery. I think pulling off that deception would've been far better had there been more player agency, even if it might've suffered a bit from metagame knowledge. In media, the audience is always given some hint when characters are being misled to build tension in the story and to make the final reveal more dramatic because the audience is privy to the details the characters where blind to.

Also it was plainly apparent the traitors' player just wanted to be the winner of what is basically a cooperative game. The campaign ended after that session.

Day 5: Most Recent RPG Purchase

This is probably the easiest question to answer on this list because of how literal it is: For me that'd be Weird Discoveries: Ten Instant Adventures for Numenera. When I was browsing the shelves of my FLGS, I figured if I get the chance in the near future to run that Numerena Boxed Set I now have on short notice, having a book filled with low-prep adventures could be quite handy.

Whilst I was browsing, I very nearly bought the last copy of Force & Destiny instead, it being the third and final corebook of FFG's Star Wars RPG line, but decided it was out of my budget for the time being. But gosh, it was rather compelling with its gorgeous artwork and Force-relative mechanics.

Day 6: Most Recent RPG Played

The most recent RPG I played was the Sunday before last: It was a 3.x Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms adventure, The Twilight Tomb.

I thought I sworn off the d20 system, but it keeps dragging me back in!
And the session was rather... memorable to say the least.

Our all-human adventuring party (a bunch of bigoted xenophobes) consisted of a Paladin, Druid, Wizard, and myself playing a Barbarian (Dronk was both his name and what he was all the time). We began in town and took a couple jobs to find a stolen artefact and a missing nobleman's daughter respectively in this mysterious woods.

So after some preparation, we headed off to the forest but happened upon a random encounter before we arrived: Poking its head out from some shrub, was a (young, juvenile?) green dragon. Initially our party opted to flee rather than face this threat, but it somehow dominated our druid with a hypnotic gaze unexpected for one of its youth and commanded him to convince the rest of the party to ally with the dragon, which would then aid them on their quests for a "modest" share of the profit. The other members of the party weren't having it until the wizard also fell under its surprisingly powerful influence.

After soaring through the air, circling us, the dragon finally landed nearby and unleashed a generous torrent of corrosive gas upon Dronk which sent him into a frothing rage and charging headlong at the wyrm, scoring a critical blow upon its scaly muzzle. Doing the lion's share of work, Dronk bloodied the dragon before it managed to gulp him down. As Dronk was slipping beyond the veil, the dragon realized it had bitten off more than it could chew and was now choking on the remains of the late barbarian.

I can't recall if I had ever been in a campaign where my PC had been killed in the first session, but with Dronk having done most the heavy lifting his allies managed to slay the gagging beast and reap the benefits of the glory and its nearby hoard.

This session became even more memorable from the fact that the remaining trio stumbled into another random encounter with a nymph who ended up blinding the druid and wizard with her good looks, and went then out of her way to stalk the paladin who was purposely averting her gaze and was attempting to lead the two sightless fools to help when the nymph finally did away with the paladin with a sight her unearthly beauty.

Two PCs dead. Two permanently blinded.

And it wasn't even a Lamentations of the Flame Princess or Dungeon Crawl Classics game.

Yessiree. Memorable.

Day 7: Favourite Free RPG

There is an uncountable number of Free RPGs available on the internet, some of which are legal, art-less or basic versions of the more well-known systems, such as D&D 5e, Fate Core/Accelerated, Eclipse Phase, Labyrinth Lord, Laminations of the Flame Princess, Mythender, etc. to name a few.

I'm going to confess, I don't recall ever having the chance to play an RPG that was free in all its forms, but I've certainly read many, one of which is 44: A Game Of Automatic Fear.

The basic premise of 44 is its the 1950's and each character knows someone close to them who has been replaced by a robotic replica. Together the characters fight agents that seek to convert them and survive the overall conspiracy as the turns countdown to zero hour. Think along the lines of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Aside from being a great little free game that only clocks in at 36 pages, it's unique in that when a character falls to the robotic menace, he joins the conspiracy with the GM in opposition against the remaining players. I can imagine things can get pretty tense near the end.

I still have a personal printed copy and I'd like to give it a shot sometime when I get the chance.

Day 8: Favourite Appearance of RPGs in the Media

The future was then.

Chrome. Synth. Cyberspace. Neon. Hairspray.

It's not exactly pop culture or widely-spread media, damn but this promo video for Shadowrun called 'A Night's Work' always cracks me up. It's just so awesomely BAD:

Day 9: Favourite Media You Wish Was An RPG

A tough choice, for the vast majority of RPGs have been at one point or another based upon an existing IP, so its quite difficult to look at a work in which I'm a fan of and easily state "one should make an RPG of that" without knowing, or at least presuming, its already happened.

There are several existing ones I'd like to see new editions of with updated setting fluff or a wholly modernized system (Discworld, Hellboy), but many generic systems do exist so enterprising GM's could port such material if they desire.

But in this busy world, what GM has time any more to convert a whole setting and figure out any well-themed mechanics anyway?

That said, here's two series I quite enjoy that have yet to get an official tabletop RPG: The first is the Fallout series, and the second is the BioShock series. Both video games have already established rich and detailed settings, along with unique concepts that just beg to be supported by interesting mechanics, making them both prime for book-n-dice versions.

I'm sure that both franchise owners would like to keep them in the realm of electronic games where the money supposedly is, but I think playing in either that particular post-apocalyptic or dystopian world with a band of players around a table would be a hoot and much more social than sitting in front of a screen.

Day 10: Favourite RPG Publisher

I can play the favouritism game when it comes to RPG products themselves, but not so much to the companies that create them; just because publisher X made a favourite of mine shouldn't automatically make them my choice, at least in my opinion.

Publishers are a creative collective of individuals and they all have their perks and quirks, but unlike the majority of their products, we can't fully know them by just viewing them. Me judging publishers solely upon their product seems a bit unfair, not being privy to all that insider baseball.

So instead of being fair and impartial I'm going to shamelessly plug local indie-publisher Black Goat Games instead; partially because it's the only publisher in which I own a wicked company shirt and also in hope the owner will get off his laurels give up some fresh grimdark goodness!

Maybe a couple more patrons would motivate the slumbering goat-lord into spawning new horrors.

Day 11: Favourite RPG Writer

Rich Burlew. Not for any of his actual RPG writing credits, but his RPG-related webcomic Order of the Stick. This absolutely brilliant series has been going as long as I've been out of high-school, which is nearly a decade (September 29th for the comic).

Long live Order of the Stick!

Day 12: Favourite RPG Illustration

Oh wow, what an impossible question for me to answer. As the owner of quite a large extensive RPG library, many of those books are brimming with gorgeous art. Selecting a single work out of all that, combined with the existing art I've seen for games I don't own, seems inconceivable. There's too many amazing things to choose from.

So I'm going to go with this piece by Kieran Yanner I received in the Numenera Boxed Set as it's limited print signed by Monte Cook and Shanna Germain, and thus the only piece of RPG art to soon be framed and hung on my wall.

Day 13: Favourite RPG Podcast

My top RPG-related podcasts would be Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, Nerd Poker, Numenera: The Signal, The Save or Die Podcast, and The Tabletop Superhighway. I have countless others sitting on my feed, but I haven't taken the time to listen to them yet. That's the tricky thing about podcasts, I only listen to them when I have the free time and my attention isn't focused elsewhere.

Anyway, my favourite would have to be the Order 66 Podcast: Originally a show about content and advice for the Star Wars: Saga Edition RPG back in 2008, it's focus has switched over to the recent FFG edition. This was first podcast I ever listened to and what originally got me into podcasts.

Shame I didn't have time to answer all the questions; oh well, there's always next year!

Cheers! ;{١