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

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Ladies League of Invells, Part 2

inverseworldMore notes from my all-woman Inverse World game!

Note: Inverse World is now available in PDF format from DriveThruRPG!

We spent about an hour on character creation, some updates, and more worldbuilding. Professor A’s player was called into work unexpectedly, and my friend LeeAnn was joining us for the first time. LeeAnn decided to play Naga, a copper-skinned goblin Mechanic. Ugly as sin, usually dirty, but very friendly (to the point of social awkwardness) with her cockney accent and big grinning smile. And wig– Naga is usually wearing some kind of bouffant wig, usually unkempt.

For the updates, I handed out a custom sheet of InverseWorld-BasicMoves. One of the basic moves is my custom Investigation move– which I still need to tweak a bit– which expands the “Discern Realities” move to include other skills, and always results in a clue, but may give the adversaries a hold for when they encounter you (preparation). I’ve also adapted the Last Breath move to accommodate the Death Moves from Grim World (you get the Death Move at level 6, but cannot use both in the same death– those who would try to bargain with Death do not deserve to change the world on their passing.) And I altered the End of Session and Level Up moves. Level Up doesn’t add a spell to wizards’ spellbooks (because there are no wizards), and End of Session replaces overcoming a monster or enemy with changing a place for better or worse.

Finally, for my returning players, I handed out some possible Backgrounds from Pirate World by Iain Chantler and James Hawthorne. I explained these are completely optional, but give them a bit more background for their characters, based on what  I’d seen in their role-play. The Pirate World backgrounds are still in development, but I wanted to roll them out, see how they play, with options to expand or change them later. I suggested Mercantile for Captain Sparrow, Witch Hunter for Lantern Aeos, and Sneaky for Walker Enn. Enn liked Sneaky, but changed the word “Sneak” to “Stealth,” because it’s less pejorative. The Captain liked Mercantile. Aeos returned Witch Hunter and explained that she wouldn’t want to focus on driving the darkness out of just people– she wants it to be a more generalized thing.

This was a good lead-in to talking about the Darkness, which we decided as a group is an entity, a real thing that seeps into people and places and convinces them to turn away from Sola’s light and do bad things. It is subtle evil, though– pervasive, convincing… but rarely overt. I can already see that I will have many challenges in this group, as I cannot simply pit them against a Big Bad Evil Guy (BBEG) and make it obvious he’s their target.

We also discussed some of the more mundane adversaries the party faces– in particular, the oppressive, yet advanced, Empire that unites many of the Island nations.

Finally, we got underway. We picked up where we’d left off, and the party decided to explore the Fruit Market, a place on Glass of Sands where you can now buy nearly any type of technology you might wish for. Professor A was described as disappearing into the Fruit Market to do some “shopping,” presumably for bones.

Some highlights:

  • They ran into Naga and the Captain re-hired her onto the ship.
  • Enn investigated the vinyards on the belowside.
  • The party spoke to Mayor Kelvine, who is a charismatic fellow… who is probably lying through his teeth.
  • The Mayor and Captain Sparrow are old friends. He gave her a writ of salvage if she wants to go off to check out Smallski.
  • He set the Captain to meet someone named Marius… who may be the leader of the terrorists.
  • Aeos made contact with “Jehanne,” the woman who collects bread for the poor in the city (perhaps.)
  • Naga stumbled into a few dozen drinks and lifted a bunch of shiny things.
  • Aeos spoke to Donovan while Enn investigated the upper rafters of the Tax Agency building.
  • Donovan thought at first that Aeos had seen his dead wife, and was surprised to learn she was speaking of Elder Lantern Ethyl.
  • Enn met a young lad who looks startlingly like her long-lost younger brother. He’s the monkey-keeper in the Tax Agency.
  • Enn and Naga decided to track the goggle-wearing Dr. Glassner, first at his home, then at his lab at the university. Naga distracted his students while Enn sneaked down to the sub-basement lab.
  • And that’s where Enn saw the Crystal for the first time.

We ended there for now, with a number of leads and some fascinating stuff happening for the party.

Ladies League of Invells

inverseworldOn Saturday, I began a new campaign. It was supposed to be a one-shot, but it sounds like my players all want to continue. I invited a handful of women, then a larger handful, until I had 5 RSVP’s for “yes,” and one of them dropped a few days beforehand. Three of the four had never played an RPG before, though they are all very imaginative and creative women:

  • Genevieve, playing Captain Sparrow of the Firebird. I met Genevieve at a local Pirate party, so her desire to play an eyepatch-wearing airship captain was little surprise. Sparrow is an earth-blessed Invells native from the Worldcrust. With silver skin and a flying cat for a pet.
  • Annie, playing Enn the Walker. I originally met Annie a couple of years ago at a steampunk group board game and high tea event I organized, but I’ve also gone to music events and the aforementioned pirate party with her, and seen her at Ren Faire and similar. Enn is a sky-blessed walker, with hawk wings. She is fascinated by gems and gemstones.
  • Wanda, playing Professor Beatrice Astrus, an earth-blessed Collector. I have known Wanda for several years through knitting and then through gaming, as she is both a knitter and an 8-bit video gamer. Prof. A collects secrets from the dead, and it appears as though her collection is mostly bones, but in fact, she truly collects the souls contained in those bones, and the secrets that they whisper. Prof A has a magical cockatoo named Rex who alerts her to treasures.
  • Patti, playing Aeos the Lantern. This was my first time meeting Patti, who is the sister-in-law of a game designer I chat with about TimeWatch rather regularly. Aeos is a sky-blessed who has a Little Light named Mara. Mara is willful, and blessed with excessive energy. Aeos seems to be something of a crusader for the light.

I intended this as a one-shot, to introduce some women to gaming, and also get to know Patti who has played RPGs extensively before. However, it went so well, the ladies wanted more adventures, so we scheduled a second session for 2 weeks from now.

The PCs began at Glass of Sands, an hourglass-shaped island in the Island Ring which shifts back and forth throughout the day. It’s a technological haven, but also a place of high taxes and hard work.

I’m not going to write up their full adventures here– that’s something I think players should really do. But in summary, we learned some interesting things about the world (some true, some not… some not true until the players suggested them!):

  • There are many people hidden from Sola’s light
  • The tax collectors are… kinda jerky
  • There is a terrorist organization on the island
  • About 20-25% of all the redfruit harvested disappears.
  • The monkeys do not eat redfruit, and aren’t big fans of bananas, either.
  • A small island recently crashed into the worldcrust
  • The local Lantern is blind and dying of cancer
  • Her Little Light is also dying, and has nearly gone out
  • There is a large gem made of lithium/dilithium that is absorbing Sola’s light (this one was invented by Annie, 100%)

In the next session, I plan to introduce more hooks tailored to their characters, and bring out some more significant threats. We’ll also discuss what their characters’ goals are in the world, and what we’d like to see as major opposing forces.

Orccon 2014: Games We Played at Strategicon

In the car on the way home after Strategicon, I like to talk with Mike about what games we played and how they worked or didn’t wor. It’s a post-mortem that helps me get perspective on the weekend and what I enjoyed about the experience, what I would change, and generally so I can learn and grow as a gamer and designer. I then like to write down our thoughts and experiences, even if they’re not full write-ups, so that I can remember later what happened and how the con went.

Continue reading Orccon 2014: Games We Played at Strategicon

Inverse World – Changeleaves are Leaving

I played Inverse World this weekend, which is a Dungeon World setting in which the world is inside the center of a planet, with the sun-god being at its core. It’s very fantastical, with lots of flight, floating islands, and “oceans” of clouds that function like water.

Our characters were Ark, a Golem of wood, very ent-like. Delue, a goblin Collector of strange and modified animals. And I played Halwynn, a sky-folk Lantern (like a priest of the sun-god, Sola) who had known Delue before she became a Lantern, and who actually started out impersonating a true follower so she could steal a Little Light (the mark of a Lantern, and literally a tiny piece of the sun).

We had a problem, which was that the changeleaves, a resource which is vital to trade within Inverse World, have been degrading in quality. The main source of changeleaves is a remote island– it’s something like the world tree in the sense that, while there are changeleaves all over Inverse World, the leaves here are especially vibrant and pristine.

We approached the island in our airship (all islands float in Inverse World), which we discovered was covered in lava. Apparently, the volcanoes on the top of the island were all erupting, while the groves that grow downward were left to be bathed in red-hot light. We’d heard rumors that the island residents were sacrificing leaves and, possibly people, to the volcanoes in hopes that they would cease erupting. This, obviously, was not working.

Our first challenge was to get to the underside of the island, by sailing through the lava. We did this… inexpertly. Basically, Delue had his weird hairless monkey take the wheel of the ship while the rest of us grabbed on and tried to keep the crew from falling off…. we were not entirely successful at that, and Delue went overboard and had to float in on an inflated fishhead, while Halwynn fell off, eventually grabbing a last life line that was being used by a workman on the underside of the ship.

Being a sky person, Halwynn has wings, but hers were permanently damaged when she became a Lantern. They aren’t something she can really use, now.

We continued to dock and tried to sooth the captain’s feathers… unsuccessfully, since going through the lava permanently altered his ship so it will now be unflyable. Whoops. Ah, well– retirement is totally an option now, right?

We approached the city, spoke to the lone guard, and discovered that the sacrifice parade was happening right then. We hurried to join it, Ark and Delue attempting to find the changeleaves, and Halwynn looking to find the elders and hopefully convince them to sacrifice things that are not as valuable as changeleaves or people.

Unfortunately, Halwynn only convinced them that sacrificing a mouthy Lantern would be a good idea, while Delue and Ark got into a drum fight with some of the marching band. Halwynn ran off, yelling a few choice epithets, only to have a vision from her Little Light. It was very disturbing and left her feeling scared and uncertain. It seemed that Sola was telling her that her light was needed, but it wouldn’t be enough to turn back the darkness.

Meanwhile, Delue had fallen for one of the goblin elders and was making moon eyes at her. He eventually enchanted her with a glittering butterfly from his collection. To say that he had intentions of taking her home to add to his collection of wives might not be far off (it was at this point we discovered that, while Halwynn is racist against goblins, Delue is a misogynist… truly, Ark is the best of all of us).

Finally, she met back up with Ark, and sought safety and comfort in Ark’s branches. Ark asked her what he should do, and she said “Can we get into the sacrifice chamber?” Ark took this as a command, and they headed that way, gathering Delue on the way.

The chamber was an enormous vent in the volcano, and there, Ark found a huge stash of changeleaves waiting to be sacrificed. It was hot and reeking and dangerous, and in the back of her mind, Halwynn kept trying to think of a way out of here that wouldn’t demand… what she was sure Sola was demanding.

Ark saw what needed to be done, and dipped into the changeleaves, which changed himself, altering him permanently and rooting him forever to that spot. He reached into his bark and pulled out his crystalline heart. “You must sacrifice this and your light to the volcano to stop it.” And then… he was no more.

Halwynn was crushed. My light! My little light! Her two closest companions– Ark and her light!– to be gone in one moment!

Delue stood by, rubbing his hands greedily. “We could… we could be very rich, you know…” Halwynn argued back that they had no way to get out, but Delue pointed out that they could use the changeleaves and some of his collection to make a hot-air-fishballon to float out of there. Halwynn nodded in agreement, still staring at the heart.

Delighted, Delue quickly fashioned the balloon and Halwynn’s light helped load the leaves into several sacks for their riches. As they floated upwards, Halwynn directed her light to take Ark’s heart and…. drop it into the volcano, sacrificing both forever.

The volcano erupted in a spectrum of color and light, the voice of Ark drifting in the resonant booming, as Halwynn and Delue floated away. (In my mind, though I am not a good enough RPer to do this in-game, Halwynn was crying silently as they left.)

Ark rolled his Last Breath move and was restored to life, many years later. Halwynn is now a second level Lantern, but without a Little Light. Questing for that would be a major plot point if she were to continue adventuring.

One thing we discovered during the End of Session was that the Basic Moves from Dungeon World don’t work quite as well for Inverse World, particularly the exploration moves and the End of Session, which emphasizes overcoming monsters instead of exploring. XP in Inverse World might be better with criteria like “If you changed a place forever (for better or worse), mark XP.”

Overall, it was a fun and entertaining session, and I would enjoy continuing to play this character, if given the option.

Here is the video of the actual play (3 hours, 15 minutes) of the game:

[Spider_Single_Video track=”3″ theme_id=”8″ priority=”0″]

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