Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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Hoard of the Dragon Queen – sessions 4 and 6

01_Carousel3_ToD-Adventures_Background_140730_1At Empire Games Encounters last night, we ran Hoard of the Dragon Queen, sessions 4 (my table) and 6 (the "level/episode 2" table).

Typically, I take the new players or new characters to run them through part of episode 1. This week, I am down a DM, so I had recruited a backup DM (known as "Dad" in the Epyllion sessions) to help out. However, my backup DM had child care responsibilities, so we also had a "Jr. DM" ("Kiddo" in the Epyllion games) who came and role-played the blue dragon monster at my table.

We also had a 7:30 PM stop time due to the blue dragon’s bedtime. That makes a 90-minute session, which is fairly short, even for Encounters.

It didn’t matter– we had fun anyway.

Continue reading Hoard of the Dragon Queen – sessions 4 and 6

When the Planarch Vault Went Wrong

This writeup is an example of what can occur when you "play to find out what happens."

I ran a game of Dungeon World this weekend while visiting my family. We had originally planned to play a lighthearted game with my niece and her girlfriends, but all the friends backed out (sick, busy, etc… common in any gaming group, even when you’re 12), so she was excited to join us for the evening "grown ups" game.

I printed out about 30 playbooks so everyone would have some really cool options.

The players were my sister, her husband, his friend from a previous workplace, the friend’s wife, and my niece.

The adult players were currently or previously all corrections officers in the state of Missouri.

I made two decisions as the GM about the tone and brutality of the game. I wanted to run the game as a Grim World style game. Really brutal and bloody, and gritty and grim. I warned the players as they were selecting playbooks: "I will dismember you, kill your pet, and devour its corpse. Got it?"

Continue reading When the Planarch Vault Went Wrong

Epyllion, Session 2

The second Epyllion game we played (Mom, Dad, and their Kiddo) started with Kiddo’s Seer dragon, Samera, getting a vision of something related to the Darkness.

Now, this is a Seer move– it’s the move they make at the start of the session. Roll 2d6 plus relevant stat. On a 7-9, they get a vision. On a 10+, they can ask questions about the vision.

I’m going to suggest a revision to this move. While it might work for less freeform groups, it locked me in as a DM and locked Kiddo in as a player.

Kiddo is 8 years old and has an imagination that is better than any of the adults at the table. Throughout the evening, she wanted to add to the vision, change details, etc. But the move doesn’t say she can do that, and her Mom kept trying to reign her in.

I was kind of trying to push her to stick to the bargain implicit in the move– she made the move, and as a result, she takes the vision as it was presented to her. But there were two problems with that. First: I hadn’t made that bargain clear to her at the outset. And second, if the vision couldn’t be the place where she could add to and change the fiction, she needed other points where she could do that.

In the previous session, her point of narrative control was the bridge she created with her moon magic– she was able to describe the bridge and put a life stone into it and everything.

One of the principles of Dungeon World– perhaps the main one, in fact– is "play to find out." Because we had this vision to start with, there was less room to play to find out.

Here’s what we’re going to try next time:

Roll+Charm. On a 7-9, the GM tells you a vision of the Darkness. Tell the GM one detail that you notice in the vision. On a 10+, you describe the vision, and the GM tells you one detail that you notice.

I think this will give her more narrative control in general, while still giving me places to attach "plot" to the vision.

The other thing I need to do is shut down any "no" at the table, and make sure to enable the players to use their opportunities for taking narrative control, whenever possible.

Ah, anyway, short plot description: we went in search of information at the Great Library about an ancient dragon that may have been turned to stone. On the way, there’s an island where the Chalice of Angels may be. And ran into an arrogant, slightly older dragon who flirted with Lydia the Warrior. Made a bargain with him to look for the chalice, though it’s possible they won’t keep that bargain.

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Harness the Sun to Do Your Bidding

Last weekend, a friend of mine and I worked on a solar panel kit I got through the Solar Pocket Factory project I backed on Kickstarter a while back.

We had previously created a working prototype with bobby pins, but with the extremely fragile solettes being unattached and unprotected, this isn’t a viable permanent solution:

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So, we set about gluing each of the solettes down.

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After each solette, we tested using a multimeter.

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When the last one was glued down, the readings went haywire. Where before, we were getting a consistent 5-6v, now we were fluctuating between 1 and 3. Something was introducing unexpected resistance. We suspected the last couple of panels may have had glue problems, so I surgically sliced out the offending panel (shattering it… we ended up using every one of that particular size of panel, between breakage and the sheer number of them we needed to get a consistent 5v current).

After fixing that I did my first soldering ever, and soldered the wires to the copper tape. Ta da! That was pretty easy; my friend is a very good teacher.

We did a bunch of materials tests with the plastics that came in the kit, especially since I didn’t understand at first what the EVA and PET sheets were for. The Solar Pocket Factory kit is awesome, but it doesn’t tell you which sheets are which, or what side should be up or down (there’s a right and wrong side on these things). The documentation is weak, at best. Really great if you are, say, a solar engineer. Not so great if you are a home project do-er who is trying something out for $35 or less.

The plan was to solder some wires onto the copper tape and run the charge through some stuff (we haven’t gotten there yet), connect to a micro-USB plug, and charge my kindle from this amazing little panel.

I know, you can buy a solar panel charger for USB devices fairly cheaply. That’s not the point. I got to learn stuff with this project! I soldered!

Anyway, we patiently worked on the materials part, melting plastic and damaging an ironing board in the process. Finally, we figured out which pieces go where, and put it all together. Carefully, so as not to break the solettes with the weight of the iron, I ironed the solar panel.

We tested it with the multimeter. 0.0. Took it outside. 0.0.

Something had gone terribly wrong.

Disappointed by undaunted, I twisted the wires together and announced “Christmas tree ornament!”

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We’re still troubleshooting and haven’t given up. It’s obvious that something is wrong with the plastics, and we’re going to look into giving these an acetone bath to recover the solettes (now that we’ve confirmed that won’t damage the solettes), then re-trying with layers of epoxy to seal the panel.

Moral of the story: Sometimes, projects don’t work. That’s okay.

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