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Discretion is the better part of valor.

The words came, unbidden, to my mind as our horses charged through the underbrush. Hoping they wouldn’t land on a sink hole or twist an ankle.

I made a mistake, dropping our guard, even for an hour, even to just play around.

“Anything you can do to surprise your enemies is a boon.”

We weren’t even really playing. I’ve used game-playing to teach teamwork, tactics, and to build physical strength and reflexes to green troops among the rebels. When I asked Firiel to make a boar’s stomach into a ball, I wasn’t just asking for a toy, but for necessary equipment.

“Nothing is ever wasted with you, is it?”

We reached a farmhouse shortly after sunset and found the owner hospitable. I made sure everyone was bandaged as much as needed, then took my turn on watch. It was almost a relief to muck the stables in the morning, though I can well imagine what Rob would have said, seeing me shoveling horse shit.

“Good practice for when you’ll have Councillors and politicians breathing down your neck.”

Rob. I miss you, Rob. You should have been here instead of me. You would have been so much better at this than I am. We could have won with your mind in the leadership.

When we reached Aethmell– smoldering, burned Aethmell….

I’d gone to the well to fetch water to wash with. Oh, and how many folk stories start with a maiden at a well! At first, Ordune was going to escort me, then Firiel was worried about… what, exactly, I’m not sure. That Ordune would see me nude? Her concern for my propriety is kind, but ill-placed. Ordune sees me as a little kid, I am sure of it. Plus, he’s already seen me naked, back before even Tristram joined our unit. Perhaps naked while bathing is a different thing from stripped naked so the healers can treat your wounds, though.

“Yes indeed, Kyala. A lady’s virtue is the greatest gift she has…. except her mind.”

In any case, I shooed Firiel off and took my “bath.” Little more than a splashing, but it did the job of getting the stink of horse and orc off of my body.

Yes, orc. I don’t mind the manure. I mind the orc-stench. Kalan J’Orrash caught us unaware in the woods. We pushed his men back and ran, but I fear that won’t be the last we hear from him and his men. We must take the offensive against him, and soon. I hate leaving enemies with their daggers poised at my back.

After my bath, during which Ordune was a perfect gentleman, if such can be believed, I sought out Firiel to make our bunks together, as we normally do. But I suppose she took some offense when I shooed her off earlier, or maybe she simply wanted her privacy. The gods know we are all in each others’ back pockets in camp, so I can hardly blame her. I certainly know far too much about my team, their little habits, their preferences and dislikes…. but maybe I’m the only one who notices? Perhaps. All I know is, I have a shopping list of treats for my troops for when we get to Elderwood.

That’s the other part of the rank, of course. Maintain troop morale. Morale was doing well enough, but having the orcs hand us our arses did not help. I thought I’d almost lost Emilien, back at Fimmelheim. He spoke as though he was going to leave us, find another merc army to join… but of course, I misunderstood and he was simply expressing… what? Loyalty? From a merc, loyalty is bought. Perhaps Emilien was saying that he no longer works solely for the gold.

I am not sure. It’s easy to speak loyalty when one is flush with gold and there’s food in your belly and a horse under your arse. It’s easy enough when you don’t have other options. Would he be so loyal if he knew my true name and the bounty he could claim?

Dare I test him?

Ah, in any case. Firiel had made her bunk inside a burned out smithy, and did not seem to be welcoming guests.

“Fish and company stink after three days. In-laws, after two.”

I set up my bedroll across a ruined street from her. There was certainly enough rubble between us, she could hardly have noticed me there. But… I cannot explain why I sought out that place.

Hell. I can explain, it’s just stupid. Firiel reminds me of someone, and I don’t want to lose her to death. Again.

See? I said it was stupid.

Well, mother hen or not, that’s where I camped that night. In the morning, we spoke with the former mayor of Aethmell and learned of their recent plight. I think we might have a true ally here, especially if we can do something about Lord Tanlin in Elderwood. Firiel came up with the plan for what to do with Lord Tanlin, so… well, at least it will be an interesting escapade.

And hopefully, by sticking to the towns and cities, we will keep Kalan J’Orrash off our tails. At least for a bit.

Strategicon: Gamex 2013 RoundUp

Mike and I went back to Strategicon this weekend for Gamex (OrcCon is in February, Gamex is May, and Gateway is on Labor Day weekend). I previously wrote a round-up of our gaming experiences, so decided to do so again this week.

We both played the same system more than once this weekend– I played Fate and Dungeon World, while Mike spent a day at Pathfinder. I’ve written about my enjoyment of Dungeon World and Fate before, and you know that I’m starting a Fate campaign called the Arco soon.

108028My experiences this weekend with a more traditional Dungeon World setting (Ravenloft) was  that Dungeon World’s magic system (I played a cleric) is a little weak. It requires a move in order to use it, and once you fail or complicate your spellcasting, you might be at -1 to cast until the next day. Additionally, you’re at a -1 to cast if you are maintaining an ongoing spell effect (like invisibility). And that goes for 0-level spells like “light.” It’s hard enough to get a 10+ on any move in DW. To make it harder and harder throughout the day is just… it’s rough. My main role in the party ended up being “I’ll hold them off” when the undead crowded in on us– and I pretty much had to do that over and over and over, because there’s no ongoing penalty for doing it, and I was capable enough at it. I’m not sure if there’s a good fix for this, and I mentioned in a post in the Dungeon World Google+ group that I realize I may simply be looking at it the wrong way. In any case– the simple fact is, at some point, I want to feel heroic, and it was difficult to do that. Side note: When your dice pretty much screw you over in every session you play in a weekend where you play 7 different RPG games… well, eventually you really want to be successful at something.

This particular session was also hindered by a spotlight-hogging PC. She would take four actions to our one, and none of us could get a word in edgewise to interrupt or participate meaningfully. She was the fighter in the party, and the guy playing the paladin was pretty much “done” and ready to quite two hours into the game. I really don’t want to be all “Bad DM!” though, because one of the hardest parts of DMing is ensuring equal spotlight for all players. It’s kind of an advanced technique, and one that requires a lot of experience. So, that was one facet of the session that somewhat hindered things. Would I play with the same folks again? Absolutely, and hope it was an off night or something.

coverbitI had a similar experience with ineffective spellcasting in Fate, when I joined Mike Olson’s AD&D-callback game. Don’t get me wrong– I enjoy Mike as a DM and as a player. But it was weird stepping into a character that had been played before by someone else, especially when that player had somewhat changed the character’s concept. The original concept was a cleric of St. Cuthbert (from Greyhawk), which is a god of law and order, really. The previous player had slanted him to be more like a paladin, and the character’s aspects certainly support that style, with “Enough talk!” and “As Subtle as a Mace to the Face.”

There isn’t a lot of room in those aspects for being the guy who stands stalwart behind everyone and casts protection and bless spells, which is a role that I envision a cleric doing well. There was the high concept of being a Votary of St Cuthbert, but I always feel weird invoking my high concept for something that is not as general as the high concept.

Mike’s spellcasting system, like Dungeon World’s, ends up being somewhat degenerative– you start with a spellcasting stat (I think he called it Virtue), which you roll against for each spell you want to cast. Spellcasting is a flat bonus– there’s no add-on for a skill or stat, so my +3 at the beginning was “it.” Also, I could only cast until my Virtue dropped to +1 (from +3), because spells require you to have a virtue of 🙂 (+2 or above) to cast– I could still cast a Bless type spell after virtue drops to 1, though. Once you have cast a spell, your Virtue goes down by 1 point. In addition, if you have an ongoing spell effect (like an aspect you’ve placed in the scene), the difficulty of casting a spell goes up by 2. So, I was able to cast one cure spell, and a sanctuary spell that the target didn’t actually benefit from. I failed to cast a few times, which was frustrating for me.

I know that Mike was trying to re-create the Vancian-style magic of 1st edition, but most clerical spells in that system didn’t require you to roll anything to use them. You don’t have to make a saving throw to cast Sanctuary, and having it up never made it harder to cast Cure Light Wounds. In fact, the whole point of Sanctuary was that you got to withdraw so you could run around the battlefield, curing your friends. With the way Mike’s system worked (if I remember it correctly, which is not a certainty), you would have a good chance of failing to heal anyone in the middle of combat. I would have had, mechanically, a -3 on that roll– mathematically, I think it may be impossible, with Virtue down to 2 because you’ve already cast a spell (sanctuary), and the difficulty being 4 normally; even if I rolled a +4, the best I can do, I would still only have a 3. Personally, I would rather see a spell stress track, in which you take stress to cast a spell, but doing so does not cause you to become less and less effective at casting until your spell stress is used up for the scene and you take a consequence related to the gods’ favor.

Because I was just not that great at actual spellcasting (and my aspects didn’t give me a whole lot of room to tap into something for a bonus or reroll), I relied mainly on my mace and shield. And my shield got vaporized towards the end of the adventure (damned space aliens)… Anyway, I tweeted Mike this morning to suggest a new aspect for this character should be “my faith is my shield.” In addition to leaving the shield as vaporized, it would also give the character a spell-oriented aspect that they could invoke when casting protection spells.

In addition, we had one party member who did not engage in combat, but did mess up the battlefield for our enemies, creating advantages for us. And one party member who…. separated from the party and ran away from each combat. It was a good example of “Fate is about being a proactive hero.” When one member of the party runs off and doesn’t help the team, everything bogged down.

The ranger and fighter, however, were great. Probably because they got to roll 2 extra dice on their primary abilities (shooting orcs and fighting with a sword and shield) and pick the best four. So… they were very combat effective, while I ran around and failed to hit bad guys, cast effective spells, or do anything but soak damage. My special power about soaking damage, though, was my ability to convert a consequence into a bonus, so I could use my own wounds to go for a nova once in a while and get a +4 (or better, if I dared to take a critical wound) on a die roll. That was useful, and did give me a cool moment at the end of the session taking out one of the aliens.

That said, it’s a Fate game, so at the heart of it, it’s not really about mechanical benefits. It’s about your role in the party and telling a fun story. For that, I was grateful to Mike for giving my character the spotlight of “this is the guy who shows up and brings everyone together for the job.” Each other PC had a little montage/spotlight moment where they were off doing something else, and at the end of their mini-conflict, I showed up to bring them into the job. When talking about advanced DM techniques, that’s one that he’s definitely mastered well.

wpid-20130524_233508.jpgSome unique-setting games I played in were Hamish Cameron’s ΚΡΑΤΟΦΑΓΙΑ, which was this bizarre, post-apocalyptic world in which we played mutant, cannibalistic goblins that developed new and entertaining mutations whenever we succumbed to our gluttony. It was… weird. Fun, but very weird. Used the Dungeon World system, with many hacks, including a stack of cards with the random mutations on them. I did get to bring out my dice minion prop, though, which was cool. As far as gameplay, once again I had trouble being at all effective. Let’s just say that my character would have had a LOT of XP at the end of the night! (In Dungeon World, you get XP when you fail.)

I also played Todd VanderWerff’s Vikings in Vikings, a Fate game, in which we were Vikings looking for a new colony, and guided by the prophetic visions of our mystic. We found a village being treated as cattle and decided we would go confront the cattle-farmers. Not because slavery is wrong, but because we’re Vikings and nobody gets to be bigger or more bad-ass than us. We found the winged monsters who were “cattle farming” and slew many of them before taking over their spaceship. Yes, spaceship.

Meanwhile, my friend Mike (not Olson) played in 3 Pathfinder games– an intro series. He found the GM for the first session was “meh.” Inexperienced and unfamiliar with the module. The second two sessions were run by a very dynamic and fun GM (Kryssie), who skipped the crunchier parts of the rules in favor of more engaging role-playing. Mike had more fun at her table, I think, than anywhere else this weekend, and became far more engaged in the character he played as a result.

Eclipse_Phase_logoMike also played an Eclipse Phase game set in Alaska on Friday night. He said it was kind of weird, and the DM didn’t seem to have a good grasp on the mechanics of the system (first time), and wasn’t willing to handwave for the story. As a result, it bogged down quite a bit for the table. The rest of the PCs treated the adventure as a dungeon crawl, while Mike wanted to get some perspective and treat it more like a puzzle to solve.

HomePage_DnDLogoOn Saturday, I popped onto a D&D Next demo game. During the rambling half hour or so at the beginning, the GM discussed other versions of D&D somewhat endlessly, then proceeded to give us various bits of misinformation on Next, like how awesome it is that they took out all that opportunity attack provoking stuff when you move. This, as she has the map set up and some minis out. I happen to know, having run games with miniatures but without AoO that it’s tactically untenable– the monsters have no reason not to run past the fighters and turn the wizard into gooshy paste.

I pull out my Next document and search– nope. Provoking has been in the playtest documents since at least December of last year. But that’s okay– while I’m sitting there, I download the current rules and, yep. It’s in there, too.

Other rules she didn’t know:

  • Add a d6 to your skill roll if you are trained in that skill.
  • Your hit dice aren’t just used when you create your character. They represent your non-magical healing (3d6 means you can heal a d6 three times per day without needing a magical healer). This is extremely important, and it’s the biggest thing Next brought from 4e– healing without a cleric. One of the players specifically asked about it, and the DM had no clue.
  • Cover grants a +2 or +5 to your AC. It does not grant disadvantage/advantage. That one’s kind of weird, though, since the whole focus in Next has been “you either have advantage or you don’t,” and getting rid of the scaled bonuses and such. Personally, I think cover should be you either have it or not, and it gives advantage or it doesn’t. Re-introducing a +2/+5 mechanic after simplifying it elsewise is not doing anyone any favors.
  • Ray of Frost does a d8 of damage and doesn’t cost a spell slot (to be fair, this has changed in almost every playtest update).

Normally, I do not care if the GM is still learning the rules to a game at a convention. It’s great if they already know them, but I go to conventions to play and run games that I don’t get to play at home. So I totally get it if you don’t completely know the system.

However, the GM was “RPGA Staff,” which means she needs to know the rules better. Adding insult to injury, though, she took a phone call while we were setting up and was telling the person on the other end about how they were paying for her hotel room for the weekend in exchange for running/teaching/testing these games.

Er… then maybe you should actually be running the game correctly?

Anyway, I did enjoy some of the session, and I can definitely see myself running one of the old adventures in Next. I have to confess, I got excited when I realized the playtest packet has the module for Isle of Dread, which I love not because I played it when I was 10 or anything cool like that, but because I have a varied selection of caveman and dinosaur miniatures to play with.


Board gaming was light for me on this trip. I ran my Kanzume Goddess and Tanto Cuore demos, and they were both very well received. Tanto Cuore played fairly quickly, and KG took longer than we expected, though it still wrapped up before the end of my 2 1/2 hour slot. Which is great– I wanted extra time in case I had to teach a lot of players or set up two tables (I only needed 1).

We ended up with 4 players, one of whom brought the Tanto Cuore play mat (gotta love our otakus!) We had a good time, in general, and I had a lot of walk-bys stop to ask questions about the game.

Plus: who doesn’t love cute anime maids?!?

wpid-20130526_094630.jpgMy impression of Kanzume Goddess’s cards being hard to read was backed up in play– my players had a hell of a time reading them, even in the well-lit game room (as opposed to my living room, where I’ve usually squinted at the cards trying to read them at home). Our winner for the game was Poseidon, followed by Loki, but everyone had a terrific time playing, including the younger player, who is “crazy about Greek mythology” and really got into it. He also loved the promo cards that Japanime Games had sent me to hand out to the players.

We did, however, need to reference the (incredibly hard to read) rulebook a few times, especially because I haven’t played the game enough to know them forwards and backwards yet. The rules are not too obscure. But they are, again, printed in very small font.

King_of_cups_profile_pic.mediumMike and I hopped into a Stones of Fate game on Monday morning. This is a game that uses Tarot cards as playing cards and is something of a memory matching game. It’s fun, though we did have a non-spatially-oriented player who had a rougher time with it. People who play Set and Memory will do well with it.

The game was being demo’ed by Jeff Cornelius of Cosmic Wombat games, and it has a Kickstarter project going right now. For $20, it’s definitely worth backing– we had a good time playing it, although we were all so very serious (probably because it was Monday morning at 9 AM after a long convention!)

Our Last Best HopeAlthough it wasn’t the last game we played (that would be Stones of Fate), the last RPG we played and which had us talking in the car on the way home, is called Our Last Best Hope. It’s an RPG where you play a crack team, the only hope Earth/humanity has against The Crisis. It’s a GM-less game, so the players come up with the crisis and the plan together, then make characters who are, in many ways, completely dysfunctional human beings. Think of the movie Armageddon. It’s like that, and every other B-grade sci fi and horror movie about saving the world.

It was awesome and fun, and I bought the book even before playing, because it sounded so cool. I’ll probably schedule a game for the Sunday RPG group in a few weeks.



Balancing Acts

I’ve been performing some re-balancing on my life lately. I was feeling really… down, physically. Eating a lot of junk food and sweets, and not exercising. My skin was in bad shape– kind of oily. My back ached a lot. And I was stressed out– I can’t even begin to tell you how often I would think “I need to do this thing, but I have literally no time to do it.”

I still don’t have time, by the way. But I’m working on that.

When I went to the ziplines and got weighed, the number bothered me– a lot, even though I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want us to buy any of the pictures that I was in– I really felt my weight, really perceived that I just looked frumpy and overweight and… ugh.

I realized that I need to exercise more. Even if I’m not ready yet to make a more serious effort about my diet, just moving a little more every day will be helpful for me.

When I installed the RunDouble app to start tracking my walking routines, I found an ad for this company called Achievemint that is doing kind of a points/rewards thing for making healthy lifestyle choices. The ad came with an offer: sign up for Achievemint and get the Couch-to-5K program already programmed into RunDouble for free.

Well, heck. I’ve done Couch-to-5K (or C25K as it’s called) before. I signed up. In addition to getting Achievemint points for RunDouble, I  get points for tracking my weight, tweeting healthy articles, and so forth.

So, I started back on C25K and this is Week 3 of that journey. It’s not easy, let me tell you. I was bit by a dog last week while out jogging in my neighborhood– just one week into the program! On Tuesday, I had a grueling 15 minutes of run-walking in 97 degree weather (and it’s unlikely to get cooler!) I have to set aside an hour, three times a week, in order to stay on the program. It takes an hour from the time I grab my gym clothes to change until I put on street clothes again after my shower. Running without a shower isn’t an option, nor is running without my asthma meds.

One of the benefits is that I crave  sweets and junk food a lot less– a benefit I’ve enjoyed in the past as well. I remember that, in time, I came to really enjoy running– and in fact, my runner’s high was so fantastic, I was downright giddy after the dog bit me. I’ve had an extremely stressful couple of weeks, and the running has just given me a little bit of space to just… go.

I also, at the encouragement of a friend of mine, started the 100 Push Ups program. That one’s a little tougher– I gradually work my way up from 1 pushup to 100, over the course of 9 weeks. Each week, you do 3 days of pushups, 5 sets each day, with a 60 to 120 second rest in between. On the last set, you do pushups until you can’t do anymore– that failure point helps build your muscles.

When I started, I could not do 1 pushup. I still can’t, not really.  When I try to do a floor pushup, my stomach hits the floor long before the pushup is complete, and I fail.

So instead, I do my pushups against a countertop in the bathroom. I keep my core/torso very still and stand a few feet away from the countertop. Put my hands on the counter and lower myself down to it– again, keeping my torso very stiff. For now, counter pushups are a good place to start. After I finish these, I will move to doing pushups against a chair. Then maybe yoga blocks. Possibly by then, the floor. I’m in week 2 of the pushup program. I find they take about 10-15 minutes to complete.

So, I’m dedicating about four hours a week to making sure my body doesn’t completely fall apart.  That doesn’t seem too bad, I think. If I’m gaming for 16-8 hours a week (which is about average for me), then spending 4 hours to undo some of the damage of a sedentary lifestyle isn’t so bad.

Oh, and I bought some makeup and hair gel last weekend. Now that my hair is growing out, I’m trying to gel it down so it’ll look like a pixie cut instead of a weird anglo-fro.

Magic from the Arco

My Fate players and I finally got together on Saturday. We sat down and created characters for the PCs, a couple of NPCs, and some setting concepts.

We have Garosh, the heir to a doomed barbarian tribe. Garosh is big, beefy, all muscle, but a keen hunter, especially out in the wilderness. He’s also got a big mouth. He’s at the Arco trying to raise money and resources to bring back to his tribe and hopefully help them fight off the Blackheart Horde. If he fails, his tribe will doubtless die out or be assimilated by the Horde.

And Symon Ashworth, the seventh son of Lord Ashworth, an industrial-focused noble house of the Arco. The Ash is the gigantic furnace that powers most of the Arco’s mechanical abilities and gadgets. The Ashworth house is full of hard-working inventors and engineers, constantly looking to create more efficient ways to deliver steam to the rest of the city. And Symon is…. different. His signature invention is a set of turbine arm guards that empower him with control over wind. In a family born of fire and earth, he is air and flight. He’s also, as the least important member of the house, the bearer of a cursed artifact, one of the magical items in this world. Symon’s player was very specific– he wants it to be something kind of “trickstery” that always twists its gifts around on him.

I already had an artifact in mind, and have sent him a description of the White Rose of Ashworth. It’s a white, metallic rose. Its previous bearer is a maiden aunt who is quite daft. The rose tends to choose its own bearer, and when the aunt claimed it had moved on, everyone thought she’d just lost it. In truth…. it had passed itself along to Symon. He can’t get rid of it until it’s ready to move along– it might disappear for a while, but it always makes its way back to its bearer.

I also created two NPCs and tied them to the characters: Em the Scroom, a laborer who is kind of lazy, but who is a big fan of Garosh. She always knows what’s going on with Garosh. She also either has or pretends to have a lame leg from an industrial accident. And Tink the emotion-seeking golem, who Garosh knows (Tink is a member of Garosh’s tribe), but who doesn’t actually know Symon. When Tink heard about one of Symon’s misadventures, however, he laughed for the first time.

At one point during character creation, Garosh’s player had a flash of narrative inspiration, and jotted down an idea for something he wants to happen, somewhere in the distant future. At this point, I grinned, because I had wanted to include the concept of a “Character Destiny” or “Doom” to this game.

The character doom comes from a little game called Archipelago, which is an RPG that tries to give an epic feel to small-picture PCs. In it, players write down a destiny for the other characters, and the player decides on one of them. That PC cannot die until their doom is fulfilled. A lot of times, the results are some doom that is vague and mystical-sounding, like “the sun rises over his army.” Now, if there’s a very appropriate moment for that character to die, perhaps a noble sacrifice, etc.– then he may find himself feeling cheated if not fulfilling his doom means he cannot make that sacrifice and cannot end his story. At that point, he narrates a flashback scene, in which his doom came to pass somewhere in his past, but he simply did not notice (perhaps he was playing with wooden soldiers at daybreak when he was a child, for example). In addition, once they have met their doom, they are free to continue adventuring– it’s just that they’ve achieved their main destiny, and are now into waters uncharted.

So, Garosh has his doom, and it’s DARK. At some point in the future, he will steal an artifact and take it to his tribe, hoping to save them. In truth, the artifact will end up being the death of his tribe.

We then talked about Symon’s doom. I suggested one that could be either light or dark, depending on how it plays out, and he agreed: Symon’s doom is that he leaves House Ashworth, forever. Could be for a very positive happy reason, like becoming the Emperor, or marrying a barbarian chieftain’s beautiful daughter. Or he could be cast out. Or exiled. Or run away. Or kidnapped! Basically, there’s a lot to work with, in this doom.

The two dooms also work very well together. If I want both of them to meet their dooms at the same time, I can manipulate the narrative to do that fairly easily.

It was at this point, I asked the players how much they want to know about how magic works. See, this is Fate– they’re always supposed to know how the mechanics work for anything. But… we always wanted magic to be somewhat mysterious. I’ve written up the system of magic, how it works, what the costs are, so I know what his artifact is and does. But Symon only knows that it’s magic, kind of cursed, and nobody in the family has ever really benefited from it.

Both players agreed that, as long as the GM knows how it works, they don’t want to know. Let the mystery unfold as the story does.

This is excellent, because the default quest of the story is “go find this artifact and bring it back to be neutralized.”

You see, we also talked a bit about what kind of adventures they want to go on. I asked if they’d prefer a big, epic campaign path, or something more episodic. Epic campaigns can feel like a railroad, while episodic stories give you a chance to change and adapt more easily to the narrative. One thing I’ve been thinking about is how to deliver an epic campaign within the episodic structure, much like how Buffy and other Joss Whedon series deliver a big story arc within smaller episodes.

They both wanted magic to be part of the central storyline, and I asked if they minded taking a direction I’d like to go– kind of a Warehouse 13 meets X Files. They’re a buddy team who go out to find and retrieve artifacts for “Agency Y.” They know nothing about the agency, really, except that it pays them pretty well for the work they do (which is good, since neither one took “Resources” as a skill). Their contact is a Nick Fury-like guy. He’s a nobleman, but he’s clearly operating outside of House Shadowriver’s purview. Which means he’s a great mentor for young Symon! It also means he’s a continual thread in the narrative, something to point them to the railroad tracks and set them on their way.

In terms of campaign design, I am left with some core things to work on between now and our next game:

  • Current Issues, from Fate, which are problems that the world needs these heroes to solve. In this case, our current issues are “Otherworld Entities” and “The Blackheart Horde.”
  • “Fronts” in the Dungeon World sense– a set of organizations and NPCs that present complications to the PCs. One obvious front is Agency Y. Another is anyone from Vinweed– a district that both Symon and Garosh have encountered before. 
  • The artifact that Symon is carrying. I need details on it, since it’s going to be a centerpiece.
  • Some basic setting and worldbuilding details, like the names of the central bank, the courier service, what kind of police force is in play, and so forth. I suspect these will come into play in our first adventure, so I want to make sure to have these details ready.
  • And of course, the bones for our first adventure.

As it turns out? The first adventure practically wrote itself. I’d already written up an artifact when I was testing out and examining the magic system. I wrote a basic adventure structure, then tilted my head and thought “how can I make this more interesting?”

If you’re one of my players, here’s where you should stop reading.

Continue reading Magic from the Arco

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