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

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Gaming Catch-Up

Not wanting to fall too far behind on my gaming writeups, I’ll do a quick summary post:

Wednesday game: We played Time Quest, my Goblin Quest time-travel hack, and it was a lot of fun and resulted in a lot of really good ideas for improving the game. If you want to playtest it, leave a comment here or on Google+.

We’ve decided to put Monster of the Week on hold– my players’ play styles don’t mesh well enough to make it enjoyable for everyone. Instead, we’re going to playtest my Night’s Black Agents scenario, Day of the Wehrwolf, in the next few weeks, and see how well it runs. I was out sick with food poisoning this week, so we start that in 2 days.

Moving Forward: So. The apocalyptic event happened. We all leveled up to 10th level and fought a primordial in 2 phases (so, like 2 separate creatures). We did well. We lost two PCs– Ordune was literally ripped in two, and Firiel was disintegrated into her atomic parts. But we defeated the monster and learned something about its abilities, combat, and alliances. Also learned that Firiel’s patron is going to double cross and there’s nothing we can do about it if this fight goes as planned.

There was, in some of our treasure, a scroll that would undo the past 5 minutes of time. Gwenn has it. While Tristram was putting Ordune’s body onto a stretcher, she used it to undo the shot that killed Firiel. Instead, she slew the last of the monsters in that fight, and promptly threw up. Nobody else in the party knows about the world-ending events, although since their players know, and since Gwenn is presently keeping it a secret (we haven’t left Thuul yet, so we’re not safe enough to talk about it), all the players keep making references that are completely innocent, but make Gwenn blanch. Like Ordune will say something about splitting the party, or Firiel will comment that she sometimes feels downright invisible, etc. It’s awesome and good storytelling. We’re heading now into Vecna’s old house to find whatever horrific thing is in his lab. We should probably die there.

Dungeon World: We converted the Sunday Epyllion game to Dungeon World after the end of the dragon campaign. Now, many years after the Age of Dragons has ended, in the Age of Humanity, our PCs are going about our business, meddling in the affairs of dragons. We are Illustria, an illusionist wizard, Anitra, a sea druid whose natural form is a dog, and Ramona, an ancient bard with a songbook in draconic and no way to read it. We started out as circus owners, and have quickly found ourselves running away from everything until we accidentally-on-purpose released the protective bubble that covered the Hell Chasm, releasing the dragons and all the other monsters trapped within.

First Date: I played a playtest of a game by a friend of mine about going on a first date. We discovered that the math was not usable as it was– it was nigh-impossible to succeed at the game. You start with a goal– his was "to sell a timeshare" and mine was "to make him admit I’m smarter than him." The goal is public, so you can veto the other person’s goal if it’s creepy or weird. And then there’s a dice mechanic that was hard to track and harder to succeed– he’s going to go back to the drawing board on the dice and see what he can do to fix the math.

Whispering Road: We finished the Whispering Road game! After 5 sessions, each covering one act, we finally wrapped it up with a very satisfying ending. I’m going to write it up as a short story to post here in the next few weeks.

I Shot My Best Friend in the Back, and All I Got Was This Lousy Apocalypse

Monday night, my online game (Moving Forward) managed to get together, and we had a veritable blast. The encounter of the evening was a highly-lethal romp with four mind-flayers. At the end, it was me, Ordune (druid), and a confused Firiel (rogue). Firiel could kill either of us in a single hit, even if I’d spent a recovery. I had a choice– her or us.

I asked if Firiel’s armor class was affected by any of her statuses. No. OK. I had a decent chance of at least stopping her if I shot, but… shooting a party member, especially my character’s best friend, isn’t a great idea.

I insisted on narrating that Firiel’s back was to Gwenn when I took the shot.

A typical night for me on Monday involves a lot of really low dice rolls. Lots of 5s and 6s on the dice. I’ve gone entire evenings without rolling above a 6 on a d20. It’s enough that, for me, my turn usually consists of trying to decide if I should just let someone else attack, or if my miss damage is enough to be effective.

On Monday, though, I’d hit several times, only missing once, when I rolled a 1. Surely, my luck would not hold out.

I roll the dice.

19 on the dice. I have a weapon with an expanded critical hit range. A 19 is a critical hit. My damage dice rolls out to 58– double that for the crit is 116.

“Welp. I’m dead.”

“What? Seriously?”

“Yep.”

“Steve! C’mon!”

“No, she’s dead.”

I think for a moment about the campaign. Firiel is holding the Big Scary Artifact that can’t be used without summoning the end of the world. It also must be used completely once someone is considered its “bearer.” Firiel is that person.

“Firiel can’t die until she draws the tiles.”

“Oh… shit.” Steve thinks frantically. This is not how the campaign is supposed to end, but whatever. He shuffles the tiles and has her draw. If she draws one of the tiles that results in us leveling up, then she will survive. If not, then she dies and we stay on the plot bus.

She draws the one that draws all the other tiles. Level up included. But also: the end of the world.

Cool.

We end for the night as we level up while the BBEG arrives on our undead-mindflayer infested island.

At least we won’t wipe out humanity. At least, not right away.

Games from the past 2 weeks

This is going to be more of a "gamer note infodump" than "story about our games" post because I’m really short on time, but I need to throw some notes down so I remember them later.

Epyllion

Played it 10 days ago and didn’t get a free minute to jot down my notes, but I was positively giddy with the results.

Samera had a vision (rolled high, so she got to describe it) of a snake-nosed/noseless dragon destroying most of Dragonia! He returns to a "house" filled with monsters and very evil.

  • What does the Guardian monster look like? Like a goblin with wings, wearing a black pearl necklace, which glows red.
  • Do the other monsters have black pearls? Yes– not the servant class, but the rest do. Including the snake-nosed dragon.
  • What immunity does the black pearl grant? It doesn’t, but it has offensive powers.

Mom facepalmed at the last one, since they could have used that knowledge to prepare and plan…

During the journey to the feral colony, they fought a swarm of pterodactyls and Lydia took a wound to the torso. Trogdor doesn’t think Samsmelt has made overtures of friendship, but he’s keeping a secret– that Samsmelt is smitten with Lydia. The "scratcher feral" has been named Scully, by Samera.

After much discussion and uncomfortable posturing among the ferals, Samera and Trogdor make a deal for Samsmelt to get the feral dragon’s suit armor in exchange for a dragon skeleton. Trogdor magics one up, out of his own bone, so that it looks just like his own skeleton. Lydia sees it and panics before realizing it’s his own making. During all this, the party is taking some shadow points as they roll 6-‘s and I decide that, among the ferals, the shadow magic is very strong.

Eventually, the party decides to head back, with Lydia making a quest to help the petrified dragon, taking the unerring sense of direction so they can find him. She has vowed to help him!

I am laughing my DMly ass off and tell them to read the spoilers when this campaign is done.

Moving Forward

Gwenn’s adventures have not gone very far in the past week. The party has mostly failed to plan during their journey back to Comarr. We’re basically stuck trying to decide what to do next. I want Steve to trigger the masquerade so we can get to it already.

D&D 5th Edition

I ran a couple of Defiance in Phlan missions last weekend, as we had 2 tables worth of players. They weren’t anything special– I avoided the 4th mission because it’s a bad adventure (it’s a mystery that requires you to know what the designer was thinking… and solving it doesn’t follow any logic.)

Dungeon World

We had the campaign and character creation night for my "let’s kill undead" Dungeon World adventure last night, and it was so cool. We have 7 players, half of them are "gear heads" of some kind, interested in the fallen technology of the now-gone Age of the Living (picture a steampunk world… now picture the world 200 years after that world has fallen into chaos). Now that the unliving rampage the world and have pushed the little kingdoms of the Living to the very edge of the world… well, some might be interested in those tools and perhaps weapons?

Our cast:

  • Marion-Rose: A female Gunslinger out to solve other people’s problems.
  • Destructor Model 4: A gender-less(ish) iron Golem (Inverse World) who seeks acceptance and recognition of his value.
  • Allanna: A 13 year old girl and prodigy about mechanical stuff, the Mechanic (Inverse World) who wants to save the day!
  • Cecil Hague: A male Collector (Inverse World) of archaic devices from the long-gone era who wants to keep dangers away.
  • Fernando: a male Fool who wishes to acquire wealth.
  • Eldith: A male Dashing Hero who is something of a hedonist.
  • Jennifer Grey: A female Princess who wants to right wrongs in the world and has a nemesis in the Witch Queen of Kellermann (also her possible future sister-in-law). She is played by the guy who plays Ordune in the Moving Forward campaign. I am amused.

We made some NPCs and sketched out some ideas. I’m thinking about starting next week with a short delve to get their feet wet and start them on an adventure. I want something that will have some resolution, but leave enough questions for them to come back in January. We have a 2-week break due to the holidays, and it’s easy to lose players in that time.

I still lack a good tag for this campaign, so for now you’ll find it tagged as "ghostbusters."

A Letter from Kindel

A letter from Lt. Gwenn Jade to her beloved Marco, the handsome half-devil.

Dear Marco,

I am like the cat with a canary feather sticking out of her lips! I don’t have any idea what to do with this information, but you’re probably a safe person to brag to. Pride is unbecoming, I know, but I hope you’ll overlook it.

We are in Kindel. Finally. I won’t go into my reasons for finally coming home. I know the risks. But… the Harriers have work to do far, far away, and I couldn’t leave without saying good bye. To Rob. To my parents. To my own grave.

Ah, yes. That’s an eerie feeling, seeing your own grave.

But let me back track. We arrived  in disguise. Firiel looks like a gentleman of quality, and Tris is her servant. Emilien and Ordune came in separately, also in disguise. Emilien’s is the same disguise he has worn for months– he’s ostensibly here for supplies. I am in disguise as a servant. Firiel did a decent enough job altering one of her uniforms, but she had to slit the sleeves to make them fit. To my eye, my bare arms look downright scandalous, but my assessment that no one would even look at a servant girl was spot-on. I was ignored even when climbing onto a roof-top.

I gave Firiel an assignment to look for my old weapons master– an assignment she utterly passed off to other people, I might add– and took Tristram with me to… my home.

House Jader is beautiful any time of year. They’ve pruned back the branches on the tree in the back, though, so we had to climb up on the neighbor’s stables, over the fence, and down the tree. Once there, it’s a fairly quick jog across the lawn to the mausoleum, but for the guards that we could spot at their post.

I had a clever idea, though, and convinced Tris to put a light glamour on us, making us glow very faintly. A few suggestions to him on how Rob used to carry himself, and we strode across the lawn in the gathering dusk, just as bold as can be. Tristram’s blond hair is currently dyed brown for his normal disguise, which definitely completed the ruse.

We made it to the mausoleum, and I left Tris outside while I took care of things in the interior. I needed to be there, to see the legacy of the Jaders, to see the pathetic building that houses our bones, if I should fail and this is all that remains of who we were. I don’t know if you, with your eternal life, will understand that, but… for me, eternity is measured in generations and our impact upon them.

When I was done, I found a trigger for a panel, which opened, and I summoned Tris just as the guards were coming for us. We slipped behind the panel, closing it and listened while the guards searched the crypt in confusion.

After they left, muttering about what they might put in their report, we followed the passage behind the panel. It led out, Marco! A secret passage I never knew about in my own house! Of course I’d never have been able to use it before, but now… now a passage that leads out can also be used to get back in.

And I’m going to need it.

When we reconvened later that night, Ordune had quite a bit to report of his own. He’d been searching for the Normand family and found them. And he found quite a bit more about them, including the younger Normand’s cruelty to the servants, their wanton disregard for the household which they have newly taken over (the war has turned fortunes aplenty), and so forth.

As he described the cook he had encountered, the name and description were quite familiar to me. I haven’t told Ordune this yet, but… I am fairly certain that the Normands have taken over the Jader estate. This may put us at odds in our respective goals, if we cannot agree about whether we want the Normands executed, murdered, or to pay dearly but in ways that make them suffer for a very long time.

As you can see, I am completely unfit for joining you in Avernus, my dear.

Send my regards to your family. I hope to feel your warm call on my wrist soon.

—Gwenn Jade

This scene was straight out of Scooby Doo. I’m surprised Gwenn and Tris didn’t get caught by some meddling kids, but Steve was just improvising as fast as he could wrap his mind around what we were doing.

6 Months, a Dragon, and a Hellish Kidnapping

My, where does the time go?

This is a journal entry from Lt. Gwenn Jade, from the Harriers.

Well.

We freed a dragon. On Wulthros, while questing for a sword for Tris…. there was… we. Tris went through a portal and, when he disappeared completely, I followed. Emilien went after, though thankfully Ordune and Firiel actually followed my orders and stayed behind.

There was a dragon, one of the original children of Tiamat, trapped there for all time, to serve as a hungry and bored mouth, eating sacrifices from Tiamat’s followers, but otherwise…. decidedly bored.

We freed him, by Tris’s alchemical knowledge. Perhaps we could have escaped without making that deal, but I doubt it. When the dragon came through, we called everyone to stand aside before he leapt from the window, taking flight, free.

Ah, unfortunately, he rampaged over a town with a sizeable temple to Tiamat. I don’t doubt we’ll have to deal with him later, but… hopefully not soon.

Continue reading 6 Months, a Dragon, and a Hellish Kidnapping

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