Friday, March 17, 2017

"really, are you sure you want to do that?!"

...is something I found myself asking repeatedly during the last session.


from left to right
Sir Richard Fitzwell III
the Ranger and his wolf companion, Killory Klinton
Ooplar Junior the Fighter
Edgar Childbanger the Cleric
Big Bertha the Thief

They got ambushed by goblins, and during the fight Ooplar got trapped down a ravine. Big Bertha and Sir Richard spent their time performing trick shots to pick off the goblins while Edgar stuck to healing his comrades.

Ooplar explored the goblins' home, which was very obviously a former wizard's underground lab, while Big Bertha interrogated and tortured the last living goblin above ground. They pretty much ditched the place when they found the last remnants of that wizard's experiments. Edgar cast Speak With Dead quite a bit, so maybe I should keep littering areas with corpses - he discovered a teenager who had been murdered by his "friends" but the whole group collectively sighed and moved on to the caves.

They re-entered the caves where they rescued Mariya from and explored further, finding a library and a tomb - both of which I ripped off from Servants of the Cinder Queen but repurposed as a Rjurik paladin who served Cuiraecen. They BURNED DOWN THE LIBRARY after reading one book and waking the Stone Guardian. Then they plundered the Tomb without heeding any warnings.

We left off with them hearing screams of dying men and the howls of dogs coming from the corridors outside of the tomb...

As a GM: I kept the goblins simple and didn't make their attacks particularly threatening. I could have made the first scenario a lot more deadly but in the moment I felt like that would have been cruel. Even the surviving goblins in the underground lab acted defensively and never engaged the PCs. I won't hold back next time.
When they burned the library, they ended up missing out on some magic scrolls, a magic item, several maps, a secret passage, and several books that explain what's important around here. Kind of amusing since I know one of them has read my advice for playing.
I think the next session will have to serve as some kind of finale. Either they will have to definitively stop the Termaxian wizards, stop the Tiamat cultists, or they'll all have to die in the attempt. They also managed to piss off Cuiraecen, the deity who is most influential in this region, that will definitely have come up in the next session!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Apocalyscotia 2: read the sitch


what is it?
the current map for my Apocalypse World game

what are these places?
Gofuckyourself is a lighthouse where the Battlebabe lives
Rutherford is a smallish town run by Brock, some dude who does not inspire a lot of loyalty, the Angel lives here
The Lodge is the former home of the Christmas Cult, now the Chopper's gang (and the Driver) lives there
Fresh Fruit is a small community (6 houses) with a hydroponic farm, owned by Gnarly
Partyville is run by Tum Tum and his gang of murderers, he maintains control by throwing parties almost every day and keeping people drugged up, also the Savvyhead lives here
Bolivia is run by Royal, he's more disciplined and discerning than any of his neighbors


from left to right

what's up with the Skinner?
Crushed (V)elvet spent all her time in Partyville, dancing and partying, since Tum Tum knows how to have a good time, she spotted a mercenary named Angelique up from Bolivia and seduced her

what's up with the Savvyhead?
T-REX spent most of his time walking back to Partyville from Bolivia and when he got there ended up having sex with Crushed (V)elvet (while Angelique watched) instead of working on his laser battery

what's up with the Driver?
Dart helped BLAKKSNAKE take over Fresh Fruit, but then drove into Partyville to fix his muffler, he got laid, then he went to check on a brewery that BLAKKSNAKE's gang had taken over but found everybody dead or dying, upon exiting he got ambushed (and captured) by Tum Tum's gang

what's up with the Chopper?
BLAKKSNAKE's gang doesn't like hanging around one place, they're incredibly nomadic and sometimes they're split up or members are just plain missing, whenever he wants them to do something he's gotta make sure they're all there, but he managed to get all of their attention to ride into Fresh Fruit and offer "protection" to Gnarly

what's up with the Angel?
Jere-Mi is running an infirmary for Brock, but she found an infection going around and some people have already died from it, when Brock got ambushed by some of the rebels Jere-Mi just hid in her infirmary and took some drugs but then opening her brain knocked her unconscious and she woke with some weird bruises and blood on her hands

what's up with the Battlebabe?
fearing that she may get attacked at the lighthouse Snow has decided to stock up with some heavy weaponry but without much luck, Brock tried to get Snow to fight his battles for him and doesn't care how Snow does it, but Snow won't waste time unless Brock coughs up serious coin, meanwhile Honest Jon has anchored just off Gofuckyourself and sold Snow a gun for a fair price

what were the big things you did as MC?
1) tried to give everyone equal time even though they're split up across the map
2) talked about how a tabletop role-playing game is essentially a conversation, so if one person doesn't pay attention it's up to everybody else to bring them up to speed and corral their errant behavior

what story elements did you introduce?
1) somebody named Indigo has been asking about BLAKKSNAKE's gang
2) expanded Royal's guards so they're more like a mercenary force, right now they're hunting T-REX
3) looked through crosshairs at the rebellion against Brock's rule
4) made both Tum Tum and Gnarly seem like real chill dudes in their own ways

what rules did you introduce?
1) gave BLAKKSNAKE a new move
where's the beef?: when you call your gang's attention, roll+cool. On a 10+, they're all here, more or less. On a 7-9, some of them are off somewhere, it will take time to get them all here, -1 to pack alpha or fuckin' thieves. On a miss, more than half of them are off somewhere, -1 to Size until you find a way to get them all back (minimum Size of Small).
2) gave Snow a new move
bad news bears: when you defend Gofuckyourself from attack, roll+sharp. On a 10+, pick 2. On a 7-9, pick 1:
- you're prepared, you deal +1 harm during the fight *
- you're fortified, +1 armor *
- choose a stat that is not highlighted and highlight it *
* all of these bonuses end once Snow exits Gofuckyourself or Gofuckyourself is breached
On a miss, no bonus, because Gofuckyourself is getting breached right now!
3) introduced a brain-eating disease
but you don't need to know any details about that right now!

Monday, March 6, 2017

it's not *technically* D&D

I was asked if I would DM a game of Dungeons & Dragons for a group of friends (who're also standup comics), many of whom had never played before, and I agreed, but wavered on which rule set to use for awhile. I told them I was thinking of running Swords & Wizardry and a few of them revealed that they didn't like the talk about math and probability that I was launching into. I hadn't really prepped for a role-playing game in months, almost a year, so I started looking at all of my possibilities. I wanted to make everything simple so we could just get set up and start playing right away with little explaining of rules and a minimal list of choices.

I had almost given up and just said to myself "Fuck it! I'll just run 5th edition, complexities and all!" but my urge to play a system I enjoy won out... Dungeon World is a D&D-shaped hack of Apocalypse World, and Freebooters on the Frontier (FotF) is an OSR hack of Dungeon World, so... I'm running Freebooters for them! Using slightly modified versions of Maezer's character sheets, I've been running a game for about a month now.

Ooplar Junior is the Fighter
Edgar "IT'S JUST A LAST NAME!" Childbanger is the Cleric
Big Bertha is the Thief
Sir Richard Fitzwell III is the Ranger

During character creation I made use of Dyson's Totally Not A D&D Fiasco to tie all of the characters together. This worked really well, and everybody enjoyed it! - even as the choices became more limited.

Ooplar Junior fought in the militia with Sir Richard Fitzwell III
Sir Dick was in an assassin cult with Big Bertha
Big Bertha and Edgar Childbanger both carry a curse they acquired from an angry witch they robbed
and finally, Edgar shares a home with Ooplar

Then to start them off I read this:
The war in the south is threatening to spread northward. The duchy to the east has begun to grumble about past grievances, and the regent needs all of her most trusted advisers and scholars to counsel her in these troubling times.

You are not one of them.

Mariya Saisset is a sage that the Queen wants to consult with and, due to a personal connection you have with her, Count Oliver has commissioned you to venture north to Silverhead Keep to track her down. She traveled to the northernmost province some months ago and hasn't been heard from since. A message sent to Silverhead Keep has not been replied to and the worst is now feared.

You have been tasked with finding the sage, Mariya Saisset, and returning with her to Castle Haestead in the capital city, to an audience with the Queen. If Mariya has perished then her remains should be secured and brought back to the castle. You are being gifted a small retainer of silver coins and a riding horse to accommodate your travels, and will receive 100 gold coins from the Queen's coffers upon a successful return to Castle Haesrien.

Then I let the players draw randomly from a set of cards I had written with random backgrounds of how their characters knew Mariya, with little bonuses for them once they found her.

  • Big Bertha had traveled with Mariya deep into the elven forests of the southeast, finding Mariya would reward a permanent +1 to Wisdom
  • Edgar Childbanger had trained under Mariya's guidance for several years, finding Mariya would reward a permanent +1 to Charisma
  • Ooplar is only eight years younger than her and he grew up alongside Mariya, finding Mariya would reward a permanent +1 to Luck
  • Sir Dick is a close friend and confidant and was named the godfather of Mariya's daughter, finding Mariya netted double XP (effectively) for the session






  • With minimal prep and a short setup, we had a standard "go rescue this NPC from danger" kind of quest. Over the last three sessions, the players made their way to Silverhead Keep, got a venereal disease from a prostitute, got cured by a friendly elf sorceror, broke into an undead elven tomb (and then ran away with an artifact!), explored a nearby cave, stumbled upon cultists prepared to sacrifice Mariya and her two assistants, almost drowned in a flash flood, got into a fight with guards at the Keep, ran into members of Big Bertha's cult, and are about to be ambushed by goblins.

    I'm not running an adventure, per se, but I'm using the castle from Keep on the Borderlands, a nearby mountain with a dungeon and Termaxian wizards from Dwimmermount, and Tiamat cultists from Zak Sabbath's blog pretty much following what would be a prequel to Hoard of the Dragon Queen, and all of this is set within my own version of the Birthright campaign setting!

    Right now they're keen on destroying those pesky Termaxian wizards but, as I said, they're about to be ambushed by goblins!

    Here's the current map: