Epyllion, session 3

I ran Epyllion on Sunday for Dad, Mom, and Kiddo again.

Our second session of the game was over a month ago, and didn’t go so well. We had a problem with saying "no" a lot to the 8 year old, and I wasn’t super happy with the results.

For this session, we started out by me explaining that I wanted Kiddo to feel comfortable adding to the story, so we were going to rewrite the "visions" move so her dice would determine if I got to tell the vision or if she did– and in either case, the other one would be able to ask 3 questions. She agreed, rolled, and got a 9.

HEY, KIDDO’S MOM AND DAD! I KNOW YOU READ MY BLOG! SPOILERS AHEAD! GO AWAY!

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2014 RiSE Lantern Festival

This post could easily devolve into a ranting of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

I’m going to save the negativity to the end, and focus on the happy things from last weekend.

However, if you just like happy things, go ahead and watch this video, and then ignore the rest of this post.

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Freaks in Lycra

We playtested Neither Super nor Heroic last night. The tagline for our game might also have been "Freaks in Lycra." Neither Super Nor Heroic is a hack-in-development for Goblin Quest, a silly-fun casual RPG by Grant Howitt.

I’ve found in running Goblin Quest that pre-planning the scenes and risks takes a lot of the spontaneity out of the game, so one of the things I do is plan the starting scene, write down the target numbers for each scene thereafter, and proceed from there. Really, with 4 players, the numerical goal is "roll a 5-6 at least 36 times." Which means a lot of dice rolling (dice hit the table about 108 times).

This hack may have a mechanical flaw, though it hasn’t really come up in my playtesting yet. In Goblin Quest, you might roll up to 3 or 4 dice in one action. In Neither Super, it’s not explicitly stated in the rules what might give you an extra d6, and we ruled only your power gave the extra die. There were cases where description or equipment could have given a boost– one of the characters wanted his IT Guy to both turn into liquid *and* wield a Cat-5 lasso. I probably should have given extra dice for those, but by that point, I’d already needed to change rules (see below).

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A couple of micro-maps

Sorry if you see this a couple of times today. We’re moving my blog server, so this low-content post is going to test a few things for me.

I drew a couple of tiny maps today, stretching my wings after re-joining the Micro Maps group on Google+.

This is Jarl Gorvik’s Meadhall:

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It’s on an index card, in pencil. If you want to use this map, feel free. Here are some of the questions you should have your adventurers try to answer:

  • What’s upstairs?
  • What does the pentacle in the cellar do? Why is it behind a secret door?
  • Why are there so many tables in the meadhall, and so few people….?
  • Where is the Jarl, and why did no one greet you but his "learned advisor"?

Next up is the Cliff-Climber:

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This micro-map is on a post-it flag, stuck to the pen I used to draw it.

  • There’s a cave in the cliff near the path. What lives there? Why is it there?
  • Why is the bridge above the waterfall? What’s in the churning waters below?
  • Who built the bridge, and what toll do they extract when you cross it?

I hope you enjoy these maps, while I continue testing our server migration!

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Dungeon World and the Slave Pits of Drazhu

108028There is an excellent Dungeon World one-shot by Jason Morningstar called The Slave Pit of Drazhu. It’s designed to run in about 2 hours, which makes it a perfect choice for demo games and for running during D&D Encounters at my FLGS.

See, I get burned out on D&D, especially when I have a really bad game night. So I wanted to shake things up and offer something that wasn’t D&D.

We had 10 players on Wednesday. About 8 of them signed up for Dungeon World. I picked 4 and handed the rest over to the Encounters table. I handed out character sheets– I had the 4 “iconic” classes– cleric, wizard, fighter, and thief. I also had the Pit Slave playbooks, but nobody wanted those.

The cleric talked everyone else into playing Evil alignment PCs. I asked some questions about their backstory and gave them bonds to work with each other. They found the backstory questions compelling and interesting and very much engaged in the fiction.

Drazhu the lich was new to lichdom and had once been a member of the cleric’s order.

Drazhu had stolen the halfling fighter’s “girl.” (I changed the orc tunnel-keeper to a female human fighter).

The wizard used to work for Drazhu, but “went too far.” I’m not sure what “too far” is when you’re employed by a lich, but it displeased Drazhu.

The thief had been stealing something from Drazhu’s minions when he was caught and thrown into the slave pit.

I’ve linked the adventure above, so you can read it if you want. My party killed the overseer and then ushered all the pit slaves towards the orc lair. Once done, the cleric said “ok, we follow,” and I grinned and pointed to the other exit.

“Do you? Or, since you know the orcs are gonna be busy slaughtering them, do you take the other exit?”

“Oooh, yeah.” After all, “save the pit slaves” is not a mission objective, here.

In the killing pit, three of the PCs were eventually paralyzed, with the fighter making a Last Breath move. Death’s bargain was this: I let you live, you send me your girl.

The evening was highlighted by lots and lots of 6- rolls. I got to make a lot of moves on these characters. One of these resulted in a second giant spider (“I call him ‘Jumpy!'”) arriving, and all the desiccated corpses hanging in the webs suddenly having their eyes start to glow ominously. This had little meaning in-game, but was a reflection of Drazhu’s new aspect: He knows you’re coming.

The party eventually finished off the spiders and made for what they hoped would be a bridge across the bottomless chasm. In the interest of time, I skipped the assassin vines and the webs and instead put a narrow ledge leading from the tunnel to the bridge (the one on the other side of the orc nest).

All they had to do was walk precariously over to the bridge.

Cleric: “I want to get down on the ledge and check for a mechanism or something that will extract a bridge on this side.”

I nod. Okay, then. I had already warned these players that they might “succeed” on a miss but still have it be a terrible, terrible thing for them, and they had seen that at play several times by this point. They’d stopped keeping track of how many XP they’d earned– it was an impressive amount, let me assure you.

He rolls his Discern Realities and gets a 3 on the dice. Well, damn.

“OK, there is a lever there, next to the ledge, just below it.”

Wizard and Thief: “Uh… I step back into the tunnel.”

Cleric: “I lie down on the ledge and pull the lever.”

Me: facepalm. “OK. The ledge you and the fighter are perched on? Folds down.” Aaaaiii!!!!

They both grab hold of the ledge and lever to save themselves, and the party works to get them back into the tunnel. In the process, the cleric breaks the lever and the ledge is no longer usable.

Before he looked for a lever, there was none there. There had been no trap. The cleric made that trap happen.

I love Dungeon World.

Okay, so the wizard summons up the spirit of the dwarf who originally built this cavern, who is crotchety and pissy and hates heights and people. He chuckles about his ledge trap, and then tells the PCs very little of substance, other than the fact there is no other way to get across, other than the bridge.

They head back to the orc nest, where everyone is dead except a couple of orcs. They kill those and go grab the treasure from the whipmaster’s chambers, where the whipmaster’s pet rat bites one of them.

They continue on, to the bridge (again, no assassin vines– Encounters table had wrapped up by now). They make it to the antechamber. Turn left, and there’s a lich. Turn right, and there’s freedom.

They turn left. The wizard has picked up a support beam from somewhere and goes to open the door to the left. Just as he does so, pushing the door open with the beam, the cleric yells “wait, it’s a trap!” He is not in time to defy the danger of the trap, though, and the ceiling opens, raining a zombie horde down on the PCs.

They are dismayed. The cleric casts Turn Undead to keep them at bay, but oh, look! there’s a lich in the next room!

They move into the next room and slam the door shut, barring it with the support beam.

Yes, they just locked themselves in with a lich.

And his girlfriend.

The party fights both, with the girlfriend barely even acknowledging the fighter (who does, in fact, kill her, completing his bargain with Death. Later, he learns that she barely even knew he existed). They fight the lich, he eventually dies, and they run for freedom.

Hooray!

And they all want to play Dungeon World again. I told them next week or the week after, I’ll run DW as a more whimsical version, but we could possibly do a Grim World campaign a few weeks after that….?

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