Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A ghost story

Happy Halloween!

So I've been thinking about starting a Patreon for writing short stories  (which then have an adventure about the site or monster they involve appended to the end).   Its a new concept I've been toying with.  One thing it requires though is not just a skill in game writing but also short story writing (and those are two very different skill sets).  To that end,  here is the first half of a short story that will be my inaugural test of this concept.



Part 1

Gerrard was an easy going man so he ignored the offensive connotations to the remark. He leaned back in his host’s finely crafted chair, putting undue strain on the joints and threatening to scuff the floor. He may be easy going, but Gerrard knows how to push his host’s buttons.

"There is no need to be ashamed if you have no wine fine enough to match the bottle of '68 I brought from the Duc's personal estate".  Gerrard put extra-emphasis on the word "personal" to imply a great value of having the Duc's favour, as if he were important at the royal court. He wasn't, but he also knew that the minor provincial nobility surrounding this table were both ignorant of courtly affairs and too prideful to admit it.

Alexandre, his host, momentarily scowled before quickly regaining his composure. "While I would not hope to imply a vicomte such as myself could match the private reserve of a duc, I do have wines more than equal to those he would send out as gifts to those ..lesser..to himself.  I merely did not wish to cause any embarrassment.  For you see, my finest wine has a rumoured curse about it and I would not want a guest in my home to accrue shame should they lack the courage to partake"

Gerrard's face was unmoved, but his easy going nature was switching to cold and calculating logic. His fame and status came from his reputation as a dashing explorer engaged in feats of high adventure. While he held no personal truck with concepts like honour, his financial well being and access to creature comforts required he maintain that facade.  But his reputation is not based on false deeds.  He had indeed been to both exotic foreign lands and the dark forgotten corners of this one. He knew first hand not all curses were superstitions.  All of this took but the barest flash of time to work out in his mind.  He had fallen into a trap by his own errors, but he would prefer to risk a possible curse than a definite loss of lifestyle.  The sight of the young baronet at the end of the table caused a flickering of spite to burn into his thoughts.

"Alexandre! I could not abandon you to face a curse alone! Why if my host insists on taking such a foolhardy risk upon himself, do the rules of hospitality not require I join him?" asked Gerrard, deliberately misinterpreting Alexandre to imply the host wished to taste the cursed wine himself, "but at least tell me of this curse that we shall face together?"

Alexandre blanched.  He too saw the young and ambitious Pierre at the end of the table. Pierre was newly arrived with an inherited title to a tiny, destitute estate and the obvious gleam of avarice in his eyes for Alexandre's wealth. Vicomte is not a hereditary title and Comte Papineau was a fickle romantic who abhorred cowardice, despite the county's dire need of those with managerial acumen Alexandre knew this would endanger his own position should the upstart Baronet spread news of this conversation. "I may as well spread the misery to that social vulture" thought Alexandre with a fatalistic resignation "And what of you Pierre? Will you join us on this test of courage? or will you retreat while I describe the foul tale to our county's fine visitor?"

"Boorish and blunt, lacking subtlety" thought Gerrard of Alexandre's clumsy maneuvers. "You do me a great honour Vicomte!" declared Pierre "Alas in my current station I have but poor table wines to contribute.  For me to partake in this event without a suitable offering of my own would be shameful."

Gerrard shifted uncomfortably at Pierre's response. It is not that the Baronet was either particularly artful or clumsy in his response, more that he felt the need to avoid drinking a fine wine at all.  Pierre seemed to be young and ambitious.  Young people were prone to disregard supernatural warnings, and ambitious sorts would not lightly risk status for fear of them unless there was some stronger evidence than tales to scare disobedient children. Had Gerrard erred? No. It was these provincial yokels who were wrong.

"The curse?" prodded Gerrard

Alexandre cleared his throat and began:

It began over a half century ago,  on a dusty impoverished estate of a local baronet, in fact it was the same estate Pierre has since inherited. Then it was owned by the Baronet Gilles Dampierre, an old man without heir.  One day he returned from a sojourn to the east with a young and beautiful bride named Rebecca. Most suspected she was probably misled by Gilles with tales of a wealthy estate, and that she was probably anticipating becoming a widow of high wealth in short order given his advanced years. The local folk thought it was hilarious, that Gilles was a sly dog and her a fortune-seeker who got what she deserved.

But she seemed not unhappy with her surroundings, even though she herself had to plant when Gilles had to let his servants go over the winter, he was quite destitute. Gilles was in great spirits and she seemed the ever affectionate bride. When Gilles died 5 years later their estate was in quite a different financial situation. She had a green thumb beyond compare, that dusty hillside had become overgrown with grapevines. Its harvest was bountiful and money began to fill the widow's coffers. The estate produced not only large quantities of wine, but of a flavour far surpassing any other local wines.


Gerrard interrupted "So she was accused of witchcraft."

"Naturally" said Alexandre

"And then they burned her alive" concluded Gerrard

Alexandre chuckled "Of course not! We use drownings here. She burned herself alive as part of setting her estate ablaze that none of our envious hands should ever enjoy the fruits of her labour. Such was the curse she screamed from her balcony before the roof collapsed in flame. But when the estate lands and remaining belongings were auctioned off later,  it turned out several dozen bottles of her final vintage survived. They have since gathered a rather ominous reputation. It is said she will return from the grave to kill any who partake of her wine. So far there have been rumours of six opened bottles and six unexplained deaths.  Do you dare risk a seventh bottle?"

Gerrard did quick mental math. Several dozen bottles, only six deaths. The deaths were all from people who took a bottle for themselves alone and thus could have been drunk. It is possible only those six bottles have been opened, but Gerrard was willing to take the risk giving what was at stake for him. "Fear not Alexandre, I shall not desert you in your quest to prove your courage"

Alexandre stood up and fumbled in his breast pocket for a key. He walked towards the bookshelf and unlocked a small cupboard at its base. He could be heard moving several small items before relocking the cupboard.  When he stood up and turned around he was holding a dark green bottle with a singed label and a great mass of malformed wax dripping down the neck as far as the heel in some spots.

"It seems to have been near the fire, that may have damaged the seal." said Gerrard "it could have turned to poison"

Alexandre "Oh? I must admit I know little about the storage of wine. For the rest of my stock, that is the domain of my servants"

"If the seal is broken then the wine has been exposed to the air for some decades.  Ignoring the loss of flavour, it can be quite deadly.  This may well be the source of the rumoured curse. Any already intoxicated individual imbibing an unsafe bottle alone would likely be found dead by morning. That bottle may be better used as a conversation piece, there is no bravery in knowingly drinking poison after all" concluded Gerrard.

"There does seem to be enough extra wax that the seal is still intact" interrupted Pierre " while your explanation seems likely for the cause of the curse you are in luck with this particular bottle. You both have the opportunity to both enjoy such a vintage and prove your courage against the curse".

"I fear no curse" said Alexandre with renewed conviction, his spirits obviously buoyed by the recent insights.  Gerrard however glared silently at Pierre's destruction of his social escape route which would have allowed him to save face. Had it been intentional?

When Alexandre inserted the screw,  no blood spewed from the cork.  When the bottle was opened, it emitted no unearthly moan.  Only wine poured forth into a glass and no distant wails were heard as it was let to breathe. The three men sat in silence for half an hour. Pierre picked at the crusts of bread still on his plate, using them to swab up bits of duck fat.  Alexandre had poured water for himself and Gerrard to rinse their mouths with, and Gerrard simply stared out the window in to the darkness. The crackling fire in the hearth the only background noise.

Finally Alexandre spoke,  "I suppose it has had enough time to breathe, shall we Gerrard?".  Gerrard nodded and the two took mouths full of water and swished about before spitting into their mugs.

"I do hope it lives up to the positive half of its reputation" mused Gerrard.

 Alexandre silently poured two glasses of white wine.  Gerrard was visibly taken aback.

"You expected red no doubt? with its associations with blood and vampires and other ghoulish terrors?" asked Alexandre, a satisfied smirk upon his face.

"I suppose I did" said Gerrard in an unusually honest response.

The two raised their glasses in a silent toast before each taking a sip.

Alexandre smiled "Delightful!" he exclaimed "it is a perfectly sweet dessert wine which.." then paused as he noted Gerrard's face.  Gerrard was frowning.  "What has you behaving as such in the face of such a generous treat?" asked Alexandre with a growing hint of annoyance "Surely you do not pretend I exaggerate the traits of my gift to Pierre?".

"The wine is exquisite, by far the best I have ever had the privilege of tasting" said Gerrard dryly.

"Then you are merely feeling distraught about how much more generous a wine offering I have provided? Instead be joyous at the generous..uh..generosity you have received" said Alexandre with a rising level of smugness in his voice.

Gerrard nodded silently, but that was not his concern.  The wine had been cooked in fire and stored in a cupboard for decades.  Wine did not last forever, especially not in such conditions.  There was no earthly way it could maintain such a brilliant flavour.  Gerrard felt doom approaching deep in his bones.

Part 2

The remainder of the evening involved some small talk about local issues and a few mildly amusing anecdotes. The steam seemed to have been let out of the conversation as the bottle was shared between Gerrard and Alexandre.  Gerrard was quite happy to wrap the evening up, his sense of unease growing.  He tapped into some of his less reputable tricks to slide some silverware up his sleeve and pocketed a container of salt. Every noise and gust out wind outside tensed his muscles.

As the fire burned low, Gerrard picked up a candlestick and retired to his guest suite. It was a well furnished and cozy little room with a single east facing animal horn window. It had a small single bed covered in thick wool blankets, a small vanity with a built in washbasin, and a cross hung above the door.

“I suppose I had better get started” said Gerrard as he took stock of his options. He looked under the bed and smiled as he pulled out a brass chamberpot. Tucking it under his arm he checked the drawers of the vanity and removed a neti pot, a candle, and a mostly empty inkpot.  Gerrard scanned the room again looking for anything else he may have missed. “This will have to do” he said as emptied his pockets onto the floor.  A container of pilfered salt, a silver place setting, 5 silver coins, a gold cross necklace, and a single vial of holy water that he has ensured is always on his person since the vampire incident of seven years prior.

Gerrard started by carefully pouring a line of salt along the bottom of the door and then moved over to repeat the process by the window.  It was there he noticed his breath was visible, and the faint hint of moving moonlit shadows against his window.  Gerrard steadied his breathing and carefully lined salt under the window in what he assumed was the nick of time, for small dots of frost appeared on the window alongside what Gerrard swears looked like the shadows of small human hands.

The window’s latch began to slide up on its own, so Gerrard began hammering the silverware between the window and the ledge with the bedpan, preventing the window from swinging inward. The window rattled slightly, and then the bent and mangled cutlery seemed to flash with a small spark. There was an audible hiss and the warmth returned to the air.  As he hurried over to the door he heard Alexandre rising from his own room and shouting about the commotion.

Alexandre was only a few paces outside Gerrard’s door muttering obscenities when he let out a blood curdling scream.  Gerrard took the wooden cross from above the door and wedged it into the latch.  Alexandre reached Gerrard’s door and tried in vain to pull it open  “Help! It is her phantom! Help me!” he pleaded.  Gerrard held the door shut, despite all rules of honour and hospitality.  Alexandre screamed loudly once more before there was a thud as a body hit the floor.  Gerrard moved away from the door as once more a chill descended over him.  The door rattled briefly and the cross began to smoulder.  The chill quickly departed.  Gerrard once more scanned his room for he knew this was not over.

Gerrard withdrew a drawer from the vanity and smashed it upon the ground.  He quickly scooped the pieces into the chamberpot along with a dry hand towel from the wash basin. He crumbled the extra candle into the chamberpot and carefully lit the detritus with the failing light of his candlestick.  He heard the slow squeak of iron nails being pulled from wooden planks on the floor above his room as small plumes of plaster dust began dropping from the ceiling.  Gerrard placed the neti pot into the fire and lay upon the ground, watching the smoke pool upon the ceiling and listening to the noise.  Gerrard watched for nearing half an hour, the chamberpot fire was but glowing coals when Gerrard heard the plank snap and saw the smoke funnel into the growing hole above him. Gerrard then carefully poured the single vial of holy water he carried into the neti pot, causing it to hiss and let out puffs of steam as it began to boil.

There was an inhuman scream on the floor above and the sound of breaking planks ceased. For a brief moment there was silence, but it was sound followed by a great wailing and the sound of breaking furniture.

“It appears our phantom has the temper of a poltergeist” said Gerrard in a muttering tone “but I don’t suppose there is enough holy water to boil until morning”. He was talking to no one in particular, but he found it calmed his nerves to do so. The next speaking Gerrard did was not to calm his nerves.. To the contrary, the low monotone noises he uttered caused him to feel both a growing anxiety and terrible pain behind his eyes.

The water boiled for nearly forty five minutes, and the spirit took five more to notice the absence.  But the work resumed, with a much faster pace.  Gerrard saw the skeletal hands rend and tear a larger and larger hold in the ceiling.  Gerrard held out his small golden cross in his ink stained hand as he lay in bed half under the covers. Down from the ceiling floated a partial human skeleton, surrounded by the spectral image of an angry young woman.  The phantom slowly floated towards Gerrard with a look of annoyance on its face, always keeping its gaze from looking directly at Gerrard’s small cross.

With a sudden burst of speed Gerrard threw a handful of silver coins from his left hand directly at the ghost.  It instinctively flinched away and then turned back with a snarl as Gerrard flung back the covers from the bed.  The mirror from the vanity had been removed and painted with occult runes from the monument of Nagal-Khish,  and as soon as the spirit gazed upon its reflection it disappeared, and only its reflection remained.  Gerrard quickly covered the mirror once more and broke it with a blow from his elbow.  Under the covers he heard the screaming of the phantasm as it found itself unable to escape its prison of mirror shards.

Gerrard noticed he was bleeding from his elbow,  a superficial cut but it was ruining his shirt.  He used his pillow to apply pressure to the cut and waited for morning’s light to banish the spirit back to the realm of the dead.  With the crow of the rooster he knew he had survived another day,  but that the spirit would return at dusk.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Punchline: Out just in time for Halloween!





Back in March I put out a post of what I hoped to get out this year.  This is the last one on the list and its just in time for Halloween. 

Its a horror adventure featuring clowns, I don't want to give away too much but I hope that if you are reading this you know my work well enough to realise it won't be half arsed. It will make for a great Halloween game.

Available now!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

NGR Play Example: Sorcerous Rites

In this scenario the party is under siege in a cabin in the woods. Swarms of cackling flesh-hungry corpses swarm the area at night only to disappear into their burrows at dawn. They are on a bullshit escort mission for an old sage trying to retrieve a forbidden tome because the GM has been busy lately so he bought a module for another system that he has belatedly realized is a shitty evil dead knock off.  The players are also aware of this, not the least of which because they see the module in the GM's stack of books at the table.



GM:  So Sir Vancierge has hacked the corpse into a helpless mess but it still writhes and begins to reform.

Chuck (Abraham): Ya ya, I'll walk up to it and begin to exorcise its remains..

Kim (Thaugo): Wait! don't!

GM: The sage urges you to hurry and destroy it, "It is bad enough this will only drive it back! we must make it to the ..." The GM pauses to fully comprehend the bad writing before moving on "..cave of evil.. to recover the Necromanxicon Diabolicus..so I may utter the proper incantations to end this horror".

Kim (Thaugo): Ya ya, sure.. but I mean you are a sage right?

GM: ..Yes?

Kim (Thaugo): We'll this isn't the Wednesday night game..so we have a few more options.

GM: A hand starts crawling

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I chop it and listen to Thaugo, assuming this is in-character or translated in-character, whatever.  Continue.

Kim (Thaugo): Well a sage can reverse engineer spells, including from the body of a magical monster, though a fresh body gives a pretty hefty penalty of -5 and an ancient one is almost useless at -20.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Ok ...

Kim (Thaugo): But a still living, or in this case unliving, doesn't actually say it gives any penalty

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Wait, so vivisections are what fucked wizards do to gain spells?

GM: Well that might be a bit dark and its only one option..

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Fuck, I should have been a sage, that is bad-ass. Do you think there is a toolshed we can 'scientifically' dismember this thing in? With like a vice and ye-olde-chainsaw?

GM: No, I mean yes there is an outbuilding actually but it doesn't have a chainsaw

Chuck (Abraham): Bet $5 it has a vice and/or a blood stained shovel.

The GM Frowns. It totally has both.

Kim (Thaugo): Lets hack this bad boy to bits and study it, then we'll be able to try and dispel these fuckers.

GM: I thought your anti-magic specialty was counter-spells?

Kim (Thaugo): It is, but I can still try to dispel spells I know, it just means it won't be an automatic success.

The GM has not specifically written up an NGR spell to raise these undead. They start thinking what NGR spell template to use and go with Necromancy because its the only real option.  Well, the thought of saying its raised by a religious miracle of a dark god as an easy out crosses their mind but that wouldn't fit with the escort/fetch quest bullshit and ask questions about what god and ..blah. Its a Necromancy spell.

GM: The sage objects to this risky...

Chuck (Abraham): I nudge him in the lower back with a dagger "Come come sir, this is too important".  Do I need to roll an appeal?

GM: Hrm, I guess that depends on how set he is on this ...

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Railroad?

GM: Plan of action.  Lets see, whats his personality type.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Just look in the module, we don't care and we know this is one.

GM: FINE.

Looking in the module it seems the Sage is focused on self-preservation. The GM already knew the sage was planning to double cross them to steal the book for himself for his own benefit.

GM: He decides not to raise a fuss once the blade touches his back.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Ok, I'll drag the bits of this thing out, Chuck you watch it. Guy you guard us in case more are still nearby in the woods and Kim keep your arm on the sage.

Kim (Thaugo): I can defend myself as a move action for free with Parkour, so I'll be keeping watch.

GM: Ok, Thaugo make a detection roll

Kim (Thaugo): Ok, I rolled a 13 so 15 total.

GM: Don't forget the darkness penalty..

Kim (Thaugo): I have Owl Eyes up

GM: Are we going to do the Dead Ale Wives skit? Is that where this is heading?

Kim (Thaugo): I have already chipped in the tokens we use to track mana, see, that was back in the cabin.

The group uses glass beads to visually represent mana at the table, they also use poker chips to track luck points.

GM: Ok, so 15 it is.  You don't see anything in the nearby clearing.

Chuck (Abraham): I open the door to the outbuilding and remember I have detect traps.

GM: Ya that is fine, but the door is barred from the outside with a ..sigh.. bloodstained shovel.

Chuck (Abraham): HA! I remove it and open the door.

GM: Inside is a workshop, featuring a head in a vice, do you want to step inside.

Chuck (Abraham): No, that is obviously going to cackle at us and try to bite us I immediately stab the handle of the shovel in its mouth so it can't bite down or talk.

GM: Sure enough it begins biting down on the wooden handle and shouting muffled curses.

Tom looks up from his phone where he had been discretely googling the module

Tom (Jack): Why not just kill it?

Chuck (Abraham): In case they fail with the vivisection of the first one, they have a backup.

Tom (Jack): Vivisection?

Julia (Brother Cadmus): That is why we went to the workshop

Tom (Jack): Oh so we already left the house

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Yes, you are with us in a shed outside looking at a corpse head in a vice, or you are alone in the house.

Tom (Jack): Fine fine, I am here

GM: So it could take several days to reverse engineer a spell, its a ?d6 days if he even succeeds.

Kim (Thaugo): Yes, but with all these tools this would be a lab right? So the sage can re-roll the  check and give bonuses to ?d6 with skills.

GM: I'll count it as a lab, but his skills wouldn't be involving these types of tools so that won't benefit him.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): We set up guard while the sage gets to work and Thaugo supervises him.

GM: Supervises?

Chuck (Abraham): In case they try to possess him and drive him crazy

GM: Ok, let me roll for nighttime encounters

The GM rolls and only gets the result indicating horrific chanting and cackling. That didn't have any rules in the original module system, but it makes sense to the GM for this to be a supernatural appeal.

GM: In the wee hours of the morning the air is filled with singsong taunts of your doom and insane shrieks of laughter. Everyone can make a resist roll against an appeal of ..

The GM rolls d20 and gets a 7

GM: 7.

Everyone makes their resist except Thaugo who takes 4 points of stress. Thaugo does not put any poker chips in the center.

GM: Not spending luck? That will make it harder to not go crazy in the future.

Kim (Thaugo): True, but with my being eccentric going a little crazy makes me a better wizard.

GM: Fair enough. Daylight comes ...

Julia (Brother Cadmus): And we wanna go home

GM: Yes yes, but you can't at this point.  What do you spend the day doing?

Chuck (Abraham): I am going to repair the broken boards in the windows and take a nap in the late morning to early afternoon.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): I am going to bury the two dismembered corpses we aren't using. Proper rites and all that. That should be 2 piety right?

GM: Yep

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Then I am sleeping until woken.

Tom (Jack): I'll gather a bunch of firewood, I want to keep the hearth going all night, big fire the whole time.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I am skilled at siegecraft, I want to focus on reinforcing anything structurally weak or an obvious way in.

GM: The cellar is the obvious way in.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Ok, I'll fill all those wicker baskets we found full of dirt and store them on top of the trap door.

GM: The only door you know of is the storm cellar door

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Ok, I'll move all the carpets and bookshelves and whatnot to find the cellar door which obvious exists and then put heavy dirt baskets on it.

GM: Ok, you do find one under a rug, and you put heavy things on it.

Chuck (Abraham): I also nail it shut.

GM: Fine,  Kim, what is Thaugo doing?

Kim (Thaugo): Going to help the sage, I am using the Augury miracle to give him a fate point to use in trying to finish the autopsy today.

GM: Ok so today I roll the d6, its a 2. I use the fate you provided him from asking the spirits for help and ..oh a 6. Looks like he's finished examining the body, destroying it in the process.

The GM now has to think harder about the spell. The template is necromancy, so that is the base. It has a difficulty of 5 per power level normally.  This creates a more powerful undead, so it should probably be a little tougher. The GM ups the difficulty by 1 per power level and the cost by 2 per power level, and increasing the range sixfold because that just felt right.  The changes to the template make the spell go from:

NECROMANCY
Difficulty 5 per power level
Cost 4 per power level
Range 1 meter (cumulative) per power level
This spell causes the caster to animate 1(cumulative) corpse or spirit (depending on version of the spell) within range per power level. Any heroes or villains in this radius who are raised may become free willed undead. Roll a d20 per hero or villain. If the roll is less than the character’s level times the number
of milestones they’ve passed, they become free willed. A caster can control 1(cumulative) undead creature per level per version of this spell memorized. If the caster dies all of her undead are destroyed, though free willed undead may be allowed a saving throw. Undead created in this manner suffer 1 (cumulative) damage per round from direct sunlight.

TO

Raise the Evil Dead
Difficulty 6 per power level
Cost 6 per power level
Range 6 meters (cumulative) per power level
This spell causes the caster to animate 1(cumulative) corpse within range by means of a summoned evil spirit per power level. The caster does not control these undead after 24 hours.  Undead created in this manner suffer 1 (cumulative) damage per round from direct sunlight.

GM: Ok, so the wizard rolls a dX + Occult check to see his score.  He has an occult of +5 and rolls a 3 on the d20 so that is 8.

Kim (Thaugo): But this is a lab so he gets a re-roll

GM: I know, I know. So the other score is 14+5 for a total of 19.  That is compared against a d20+ the difficulty of the spells on the body. 

The GM is thinking to go d20+6, but there are three of these "legally distinct from deadites" in the module so if the book was only read from once, it must have been cast at power level 2.  Using this reasoning that would be a difficulty of 12, which makes sense to the GM.  This should be a powerful curse to break.

GM: Ok so I roll a d20 and add 12 for a total of , 16.  Huh.  Ok the sage exclaims "Yes! Yes! I have uncovered the secrets!"

Kim (Thaugo): He doesn't have a familiar to take notes right? So he'd actually have to be making notes?

GM: Yes....

Kim (Thaugo): Ok, good. Because I think we are all aware he's going to try to betray us and I just wanted to make sure I could take the spell off of his body when that happens.

GM: Well that is about to happen as he exclaims "I no longer have need for you and your greedy little eyes trying to steal MY secret knowledge!"

Kim (Thaugo): Initiative?

GM: Yes, he got a 3 on agility.

Kim (Thaugo): I actually have a 4 on agility.

GM: Ok, he goes to cast some version of "Weakness" upon you. Do you want to interrupt?

Kim (Thaugo): Yes, I will attempt to counter it. Because I have the Anti-Magic: Counterspell specialty I can attempt to counter the spell even though I don't know it.

GM: Ok, he casts it at power level 2, it has a difficulty of 2 cumulative per power level, for a base of 6. He is brandishing the skull of a kitten carved with arcane runes. This is an easy to make component and its lowering the difficulty by 1 per power level, so back down to 4.  He has an occult of 5, and he is using his talisman to cast the spell through since his talisman is a ring and this is a touch spell. That has a benefit of +2 so he gets another +2 to the casting roll.

His casting roll is a dX +5 occult -4 spell difficulty +2 talisman.  He is reckless and so rolls a d20 for the dX, scoring an 11 for a total of 14. A spell needs to beat a 10 to succeed (meaning roll an 11+ total).

Kim (Thaugo): Except I am using a counterspell so he also has to beat my roll as well. I roll a dX and add my occult, which is normally +2, but I took that stress earlier. Since I have the eccentric ability I add my stress to my occult here.  So I roll dX +2 Occult +4 stress. I roll a d20 and roll a 12 for a total of 16.  As he brandishes the kitten skull to weaken me I quickly throw the horns to channel the strength of a bull and counter his magic.

GM: Ok, his remaining action is defending himself.

Kim (Thaugo): I haven't had to defend myself so I use the same trick Thaugo used to defeat his master in a sorcerer's duel last time.

GM: Whats that?

Kim (Thaugo): He's an old man and I am pretty much a Sasquatch who is standing in the same shed as him. I cast fist.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Peterson and her effect on my role playing sensibilities

So as I see the leaves begin to change with autumn's approach I shouldn't be surprised that my brain shifted to Elvira, especially Monday when this post entered my brain. So I figured I should ramble a little more about comedy, terror, and memory.


A lot of my writing has a very strong horror theme to it,  partly that is due to the nature of the genre. The difference between horror and high adventure is often just your estimation of your chances of success. It is lack of adequate competence (in the broadest sense) that leads to horror and shifts it away from something almost lighthearted.

I also tend to write things that casually include the incredible suffering of mere existence that common peasants suffered in a historical setting. The aesthetics of ruin is a good read but I don't tend to have my writing wallow in misery, as there is an element of both comedy and suffering in the situation.  Without sounding too nihilistic, the level of ruin often has a form of bleak comedy about it. Comedy , to me, makes the horror elements that much more vivid and memorable. I believe there are fairly straightforward reasons for that which I'll come back to.

That concept of embedding comedy among horror is almost certainly something I picked up from Peterson in her role as Elvira.  I will make the controversial statement that although I have watched the Elvira movie many times, it is purely as a tradition. I think its generally garbage. It's bad because it puts Elvira front and center, while her talent is providing running commentary on horror movies themselves.  Movies made in earnest, if poorly, were a lot more enjoyable to watch.  I remember watching her Schlock-o-thon about a quarter century ago.  The jokes acted like a sieve to filter out everything but the few good kernels within the movies.  I don't recall all the dumb crap that is 95% of a movie like "Gargoyles" but I do remember the ominous scene where you realize it is in fact a demon succeeding in corrupting the mind of  a person (whose name and role I have long since forgotten) through fake claims of just being a different alien species trying to live in peace.   That may have actually been true for the crappy plot, but that one scene implied very different. The jokes filtered out all the dumb junk which was unable to rise past them in terms of quality, leaving behind that one moment as a little gem that remains in memory a quarter century later.  This is probably the same reason I enjoyed MST3K so much, but (second controversial statement) their comedy was much better. Elvira is linked to Halloween so that bumps her up a lot in my books, otherwise I would say there isn't even a contest between which one I like more.

The ability to create those "long term gems of memory" is one of my main goals when running games.  I want it to be fun and interesting in the moment  at the table yes, but part of the "stickiness" I do when writing adventures also serves the secondary function of creating good/interesting memories.  I want people to vividly remember moments of games I ran years or decades down the line.

Novelty can be part of this sure,  but if everything is novel then nothing sticks out from all the rest. Using familiar archetypes actually seems to work better, perhaps because similar stimuli are frequently encountered.  Each encounter then reminds you of the game and further cements the memory in your brain. They also help to contrast those components of the adventure that ARE novelty, making the novelty bits easier to remember in their own right. If most statues don't come to life and kill you, the one that does is memorable (and might succeed). If most statues you encounter come to life to kill you then everyone gets wise to that shit after the second statue.

This is one of the things LotFP as a publishing house does right with their submission guidelines (in my opinion),  they want things to be historically normal except for one weird thing which is the focal point of the adventure. One point I think LotFP doesn't do as well in this regard (though it probably isn't a goal of theirs) is shying away from folklore.

Lovecraft's weird fiction did a pretty good job on this to my mind. On the one hand they had aliens as gods and super-science as magic,  but they also had robed cultists performing sacrifices next to an idol and witches with familiars signing their name in a black book held by a humanoid with goat legs. Contrast his stories of pure novelty like "Shadows of out time".  You probably recall that Yithians look weird, have a massive library, and quantum leap everywhere right?  What about the other details?  On the top of your head, what more do you recall?  Do you remember they have no sense of touch?  Probably with a little goading. What about their government structure?  Their hovercars? Their highway infrastructure?  That all gets lost in the jumble.  Compare that to "The Shadow over Innsmouth".  You've got the coach (bus) driver with ominous foreshadowing.  You've got the creepy secret society. The old man who warns you of DOOM DOOM! All common archetypes that make the novel components (the underwater fishperson city) stand out that much more. The contrast of novel elements (at the time) alongside traditional folklore archetypes made those stories extremely memorable on the whole, even if details were lost.

Combining the jokes and comedy at the table as a sieve with an adventure featuring traditional archetypes contrasting a novel element has so far seemed like the most effective method for ensuring that moments are captured as long term memories. "A thousand dead babies" is a good example of this.  It has the novel component of [spoiler] but also a lot of archetypes that are classic like the black sabbath, or the farmer's daughter. While I play it straight, it is also specifically ripe for a lot of humour at the table. I generally try to avoid honestly complimenting myself, but that particular adventure does seem to generate those types of long term memories for people. 




Friday, August 31, 2018

Final Day for Murder at Devil Pines

The second and last Kickstarter post I will make about this topic.

Its in the final hours for "Murder at Devil Pines" , a board game I designed which I've written about a few times on this blog. The cliff notes:

1.) Its a paranormal investigation game set in 1992. You may have to fight Mothman.
2.) You can set up and play a game in about 30 minutes the first time, about 20 after that.
3.) It still has advancement and equipment. Everyone likes getting loot.
4.) Its co-operative, but it has a potential traitor mechanic. About 50% of games feature a traitor, which is only uncovered through game play (including to the potential traitor). This prevents one player from potentially running the group as puppets, but since the game is so quick it doesn't ruin the night if someone IS a traitor (in games that take an hour to set up and 12 to play this can be a problem).
5.) We offer an option to give files needed for virtual tabletops.

We are at 85% funding and would love to hit that target.


If this sounds like your cup of tea, consider backing it HERE

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Murder at Devil Pines - an early 90's paranormal investigation boardgame

So we recently launched "Murder at Devil Pines",  the theoretically co-operative boardgame I've posted about a few times on here.  It features the artwork of the talented Alex Mayo.

You can back it HERE

We ran this pretty heavily at GenCon for a few dozen people,  plus I ran it a few times at bars and hotel lobbies.  It is a great pickup game for those situations.  Explaining the rules, setting it up, and playing the first game takes about half an hour to forty minutes. Future games are about twenty minutes.

Its unique quirk is that has a potential traitor mechanic where only about half the games have a traitor (and about a quarter have two, an eighth three etc),  so in theory you should all work together.  But you don't know who is a traitor (including you!) until you start unraveling the mystery.  So there is a real benefit in keeping things secret so that other people won't be tipped off that they are a traitor themselves.  In short, you can run into a "but do they know that I know that they know that I know..." loop.  Its a great social game and its quick enough to set up and play that losing because of a traitor doesn't spoil the evening since you can just play another round.  It also means that one person with a stronger personality can't dominate the table like in other co-operative games.

If you like co-op board games or casual games I think you'll like this one.



Saturday, July 28, 2018

The magic of Three. 3 days left and 3000 percent funded.

Just a heads up that we are on the final stretch of the kickstarter.  We are on its last three days and three thousand percent funded.   We are also closing in on a stretch goal of having the talented Luka Rejec do a version of the rules using his own art.  I'd like to thank everyone for their support.


Back it HERE

Monday, July 23, 2018

The assumption of failure in information design: Thoughts on the presentation of adventures


I often see people talk about how information needs to be re-organized and laid out differently to aid use of a product at the table.  This is a great idea, but I often see it done bass-ackwards.  People make suggestions that I think are antithetical to the ideal goal of not having to look through a book at all during play.  In short, people advocate for an acceptance of the inevitability of failure on the designer's part.

To explain further on that topic, think of the core rule from Neoclassical Geek Revival "The Known Rule".

THE KNOWN RULE
NGR contains a large number of rules,
and in the end it is not likely someone
will have them all memorized. The
rules of this game are only applicable
if someone involved actually knows the
rule or claims to. If no party involved
knows the rule then they obviously did
not choose their course of action based
on the mechanics. In such a case, the
GM should issue a ruling and move
on. You should never be looking up
rules during play. Doing so results
in –1 awesomeness for a player or +1
awesomeness to all players if the GM
looks up a rule (per occurrence). Awesomeness
is covered near the end of the
book in the End of the Session section.

That neither GM's nor Players should be spending time cracking open books at the table is absolutely critical to my gaming sensibilities.  Having a quick summary of an NPC would be to accept failure (note: this is distinct from a statblock for mechanics) .  The NPC should already be in your brain, they should be "Sticky" for lack of familiarity to any better term.

And "Sticky" is the key to the whole adventure.  When you read it, the general shape of purpose of the adventure should be in your head.  You don't need a quick summary of the NPC and their motivations because they should be vivid enough in your memory that a simple name or title ("Doug" or "The Apothecary") should be enough to make them leap into your mind fully formed with the details being "right enough".  If you forget a few details that didn't stick in your memory, that isn't a problem.

There are obviously limits to this*.  Shenanigans will ensue and you will need to periodically figure out exactly how certain things work. You may need to quickly scan a map or look at the stat block for a monster when it boils down to game mechanics and dice rolling (usually combat).  These things always go into an appendix at the back when I write an adventure for that reason.  If you need to know what the stats of a lazer-badger are, they will be in the back.  They will also be given a memorable name like "lazer-badger". Spells and magic items are also in similar appendices for the exact same reason.

For rooms I've taken to adding some colour coding,  which means you can see whats important at a glance.  I do this because I see a lot of value of making things easier to skim, provided doing so doesn't interfere with the ideal state of not needing to skim at all.  When I colour code bits of the rooms, I don't need to rewrite the room. It keeps a conversationalist and narrative structure that (to me) more easily forms a mental picture.

Random generators (such as a chart or table) also require reading because there are so many different combinations. Those definitely need good design because you need to generate something new at the table itself. It is something I am always looking to improve (with varying degrees of success).

Sometimes bits of content just aren't "sticky". They don't leave an impression in your brain. My thought to that is, why are they in the adventure?  Are they just fill? padding?  How much are you really losing from the adventure if you ditch them considering a few hours after reading them before the game you'd already forgotten they even existed? Perhaps you've crammed too much stuff in one adventure? The human mind has limits for information chunking and you should take that into account when designing an adventure (3-7 being the magic numbers, ideally aiming for 5).

To be clear, this isn't a claim that I always succeed in creating "sticky" adventures and situations. The colour codes I add to rooms are there because sometimes I will fail in my goal with the room and it doesn't hurt to add them in. Writing and design are skills like any other.  You can always improve, and the only way to do that is through practice. Practice involves failure and its prudent to take steps to minimize the impact of failure if they don't interfere with doing things right.  I am working on some additional appendix ideas that I hope to release in the future that should make investigative and heist adventures easier for that very reason.

If you write with the idea that the GM will be reading it at the table you've already failed in my mind. I am not going to read a damn thing at the table unless the situation has already broken down into analysis paralysis. This happens. Usually it happens when there is some cockamamie scheme from the players that devolves into abusing some minute fact or mechanic.  It also happens when the party travels long distances and the players "zoom out" from the matter at hand into a more abstract mindset. But if you expect me to read even one line every time the party goes into a new hallway or searches a room you've already lost me. Every time I have to read at the table I see that as a failure.



Getting near the final countdown on the Kickstarter

Edit: * Obvious limits currently.  I am sure different things could be changed in either game prep habits, adventure expectations, system design or who knows what to minimize this in the future.  Mechanical interaction is a big break point for example, but in NGR the process in which stats are derived allows for easier (though not yet perfect) "Just In Time" stat generation.  The weighted pro/cons on things like weapon tags make it easier to forget rules as well.


Saturday, July 14, 2018

On the virtue of persistence

Producing RPG material as a labour of love requires persistence. When it starts to involve a team it requires even more so.  When you get real particular about wanting the talents of extremely specific individuals who have their own schedules and their own projects, you better get used to waiting.

It was in the far off year of 2012, six years ago, that I ran two campaigns (one at home, one online) through the City of Tears.  It was my goal to really hone down on what made a good dungeon based campaign from years of theory and past campaigns.  The City of Tears is designed so that your group can spend months of real life weekly game sessions delving into a dungeon and puttering about the immediate area on "side quests" which all lead back to the dungeon.

And it has been a fair amount of time to get this work polished.  I wanted the layout of a specific graphic designer (Jensen Toperzer) because she does absolutely gorgeous work. I wanted the art work of Jez Gordon because his stark art is exactly what was in my minds eye. I wanted the maps of Dyson Logos, because if I am going to do a proper dungeon I want dungeon maps from the best. All of these people it turns out had different priorities of their own and weren't just sitting around waiting me to call.  It took 5 years before I got through all three queues.  I've had a completed City of Tears since last fall.  But after five years of working on something, I want it to get a little more fanfare.

So I saved it up to be part of a three part release of the major projects I have been working on:

An Omnibus of all my self-published adventures
A full art version of Neoclassical Geek Revival

And the City of Tears


A lot of the attention on the kickstarter has been about the first two points.  But I want to make sure that the news of City of Tears isn't lost in the shuffle because it is an absolutely gorgeous work. It is worth the wait.

Get it HERE

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Ennies and writing on autopilot

As you may be aware,  the writing contest between Kiel Chenier and myself that spawned "The Scenario from Ontario" is up for an Ennie award.  You should vote for it to win. If you rank it a 1 and don't rank anything else in that category we'd be much more likely to win.

Kiel recently did an interview about the adventure and talked about how the short time frame made it so that he wrote it almost on autopilot and so a lot of his natural inclinations for how adventures work bled into it.  He discusses how themes such as the banal yet powerful evil of greed mixed with industrialization can easily overshadow the supernatural in terms of true misery caused. The theme that deposing a powerful person creates a vacuum and that the players will have to weigh filling that gap and becoming the villain themselves or seeing if the new person who fills the void is even worse than the last.  Those are his "autopilot" themes.

A friend referred to my own entry (Maple Witch of the Beaver Wars) as very visibly "Zzarchovian",  when pressed on what that means he brought forth a few points that would seem to be my own autopilot for adventure writing:

Quote

1. Some sort of ongoing problem emerging from the dungeon that provides hooks (like kids missing in Pale Lady)
2. Interact-able factions surrounding/inhabiting the sandbox (the haud/nish/french/witch division in MW, the priest/pagans/others in ATDB)
3. abstracted/random navigation surrounding the dungeon, often with clues pointing to dungeon 
4. a dungeon with one or more artefacts/magic effects intended to have complex consequences for PCs (the bassinet, the cube) 

So, seeing as I have an Omnibus of all my NGR/OSR adventures temporarily available over at the Kickstarter I am running, I figure I have enough of a body of work for people for people to make their own thoughts on what a "Zzarchovian Adventure" is and I would love to hear them.


Money Money Money.....MONEY

Sunday, July 8, 2018

So we are One Thousand Percent sure that this is a good idea

In the first 48 hours of the kickstarter going live we have hit 1000% funding.


We have hit 4 stretch goals and are rounding on a fifth.  Backers who go for a full art version of Neoclassical Geek Revival will have three different art options to choose from.   Scrap Princess, Dyson Logos, Alex Mayo, and hopefully soon we will unlock a fourth option with Chris Huth.

Remember that this campaign is of a shorter than normal length, so time is counting down.

 A sample of the art and layout by Dyson Logos

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Neoclassical Geek Revival Kickstarter is live

As mentioned previously we are launching a kickstarter so you can gain access to some books for NGR.  If you are reading this blog you probably already know as much about it as I could babble on here so I'll give the cliff notes.

1.) It only runs until the end of July
2.) Not every book available in the kickstarter will be available after the fact (even as PDF)
3.) Those that remain available will be more expensive.

If this is something you are interested in, you can back the project here


Monday, June 25, 2018

Heads Up! Upcoming NGR 3-book Kickstarter

Hello everyone,

I've been mentioning this as upcoming for the last 6 months or so,  but with any luck I hope to be able go live with a Kickstarter within the next week (give or take). Edit: It's LIVE



This will be an opportunity for you to get a hold of The NGR core rules, a compendium of my NGR/OSR adventures, and a new desert themed dungeon (The City of Tears) featuring art by Jez Gordon and maps by Dyson Logos.

You will also have the option of getting a special version of the NGR Rulebook with art by the talented Scrap Princess (Sample  title page below).



This will be a fairly simple affair without many bells and whistles and with a small goal.  For some of these works (such as the Compendium),  I don't intend to make it available for sale online as a going concern so you will have a limited opportunity.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

NGR Play Example: The Dungeon

In this scenario the party is exploring the abandoned sewers under an abandoned city in the moors. It is rumoured to be full of the living dead who guard the fabled gem "The Eye of the Sea".



GM: So you all descend the rickety ladder through the hole to what was surely once the basement of an inn.  Dirt and rubble pile up against a wooden door to the north.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I am surprised a wooden door is still standing, surely rain pouring in through the hole would have rotted it over the years.

GM:  This brings up my next point actually,  its night outside so there isn't really any light streaming in through the hole above you.  What is everyone carrying for light as it will otherwise be pitch black, a darkness level of 10.

Guy (Sir Vancierge):  Well I'll start by rummaging through my backpack to get a candle and then light it with my flint in steel.

GM: Are you just setting it on the ground or carrying it?

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I'll sheath my sword and carry it for now.

GM: Ok you have a light source, and the room itself only has 9 darkness. Anyone else lighting anything?

Chuck (Abraham): I'll have my lantern in hand, but I won't light it yet.

Kim (Thaugo): I'll dig out my torch and pack my javelin.

GM: The javelin is a pole weapon, you can't cram it in a backpack,

Kim (Thaugo): Right... I'll pack my club I guess. I can still hit people with a torch right?

GM: Yep, it will have the devastating tag because it is on fire though. That will increase the damage die one step and give a -2 penalty to hit.

Kim (Thaugo): Only if I light it though right? otherwise its just a club?

GM: Yep, its a sturdy block of wood with some pine tar and cloth on it. Its not a movie torch.

Kim (Thaugo):  Well I light it with the candle, that will give the room 3 more light at least.

GM: 6 more, you are size 2 and its a torch to your scale.

Kim (Thaugo):  So the room is fairly bright to everyone else then, only 3 darkness.

GM: Right, so that means there are deep shadows and a lot of flickering with a red glow.  You are holding a light source though so you don't suffer those kinds of penalties.

Tom (Jack): I look around the room for anything shiny or valuable.

GM:  Make a Perception attribute check with a -3 penalty for the darkness.

Tom (Jack): I am still calm, so my dX roll is 10. With the -3 darkness penalty I fail as I don't feel like becoming On Edge or Reckless and rolling dice.

Kim (Thaugo): I look around as well.  I do not suffer the -3 penalty because I am actually carrying a light source right?

GM: Correct

Kim (Thaugo): In that case I pass. I am still calm and have a perception of 10 so I pass.

GM: In the muck you see the glint of a glass bottle.

Kim (Thaugo): I pick it up

GM: Ok, so in an explosion you...

Kim (Thaugo): Oh come on

GM: I am just fucking with you, its just a bottle.  It is sealed with lead and appears to contain salt.

Kim (Thaugo): Weird.  I keep it. That means I am also no longer underencumbered.

GM: Oh, and Sir Vancierge was examining the door right?

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Ya, sure

GM: It does appear to be heavily rotted and termite infested.  You figure you could probably break it open pretty easily.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): How difficult?

GM: Oh, easy to do it. But you might end up making a bunch of noise.  You could make a strength check, and if you pass you cause 1 suspicion but if you fail you cause 1d6 suspicion.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I am still calm, so I succeed in my strength check.

GM: There is a slight snap noise that echoes as you break a few less rotted pieces of wood.  You cause 1 point of suspicion unless someone wants to pay a luck point to reduce it to 0.

Kim (Thaugo): I only have 4 luck so I won't, but someone should.

Tom (Jack): Its just 1 suspicion.

Kim (Thaugo): I am size 2, so it would be 2 suspicion to me.  I only have 6 agility so my oafish bumbling will quickly cause us to trigger a random encounter.

GM: Correct.  In dungeons a build up of suspicion is used to determine when you cause some of the denizens to investigate all the ruckus.  I know you all know this, but I feel compelled to repeat it again.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): I will spend luck to remove the suspicion then. Anyone nearby can spend luck to reduce suspicion if its an area effect like this.  Do I have to spend 2 luck because Thaugo is size 2?

GM: No, the person spending the luck pays it at their rate.  If Thaugo was spending the luck, they would have to pay 2 to reduce all of the suspicion.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): I go through the door to the north.

GM: Cadmus, you have entered the door to the north. You are now by yourself, standing in a dark room. The pungent stench of mildew emanates from the wet dungeon walls.

Tom (Jack): Where are the cheetos?

GM: They are right beside you.

Kim (Thaugo): We have cheetos?

Chuck (Abraham): No, they are doing a stupid bit. Don't encourage them.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Is that actually the room?

GM: Yes, but light does come in from behind you, half of what was in your room. Rounded down that means 3 light to counteract the 10 darkness.  You can see vague outlines of things. Maybe furniture or something?  Make a perception check with a -7 penalty for the darkness.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): I am still calm because we haven't started a conflict. Should I start rolling anyway or just fail guys?

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Save being calm in case we have traps. I come in with my candle.

GM: Ok, its only 6 darkness.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I look around. Because I have a light source I am just going to look at things.

GM: Moving up close with your candle you see this appears to be an old store room. There are a lot of crates and barrels..

Tom (Jack): So overpriced garbage that suburbanites love?

GM: crates and barrels which appear to still be mostly intact, though some seem to have rot from water dripping from the ceiling. There is a door to the east.

Chuck (Abraham): I gently quietly poke around with a dagger, seeing if there is anything shiny or valuable within them. I am investigating using my "Resale Appraisal" skill.

GM: There is a pair of porcelain plates still intact in the mess. Their probably worth a pretty penny

Julia (Brother Cadmus): They're

GM: Right, They're probably worth a pretty penny

Chuck (Abraham): They are fragile, so I assume they are a dot each?

GM: Right

Chuck (Abraham): I am over encumbered then.

Kim (Thaugo): I could carry them

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Same here

Chuck (Abraham): That's cool, I got it

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Don't be a dingus, I won't keep them. You can have them back when we leave the dungeon, I promise.

Chuck (Abraham): Fine, jeez.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I open the door to the east

GM:  The light from behind you spills out past you to reveal a long sewer tunnel heading north and south into the darkness.  Your room has a candle and a giant torch, so 7 light.  Half of that spills into a hallway and will cause suspicion.

Kim (Thaugo): I haven't actually entered the store room yet so my giant torch is still in the first room with me.  Remember how you said its 6 darkness with the distant light of my torch and Vancierge's candle?

GM: Ok, then only half of the 4 light spills in, so 2 suspicion.

Chuck (Abraham): I'll pay it this time, but put out that torch before we move into that hall. We can relight it later.

Kim (Thaugo): Fine, I put out the torch.

GM: It gets incredibly dark. The only light you can see is the flickering candle that Sir Vancierge is holding in the next room. You can't see in front of you very well and you may stumble into things. Make an agility check to quietly make it into the next room where there is some light.

Kim (Thaugo): I cast Owl Eyes to see in the dark

GM: Isn't that in your grimoire? You can't read that in the dark

Kim (Thaugo): Can I cast the spell THEN put out the torch?

GM: Sure, but remember that you put out the torch quickly to cut down on light seeping into the hall. Your book is packed in your backpack and may take a while to dig out. How much longer do you want to be beaming torchlight into the hall?

Kim (Thaugo): Ok, first I bless myself. This gives me a +1 universal bonus.  Then I move calmly move into the next room.  My dX roll is 10, I add my 6 agility, my +1 bonus for bless, a +1 bonus to an agility check for having a free hand, and +2 from my stealth

GM: Why would you add your stealth modifier?

Kim (Thaugo): I have parkour and this is literally an attribute check about moving so I get to add my stealth.

GM: Fair enough, you deftly avoid crashing into any of the junk as you navigate towards the faint light.

Kim (Thaugo): Getting near Sir Vancierge's candle NOW I dig out the masters grimoire and cast Owl Eyes. Actually first I put down my torch and club so I am underencumbered and THEN I cast it.  It has a cost of 1 so I pay 1 mana, and its difficulty is 1 per power level. I have 2 occult, I am blessed and being under encumbered I get +1 to casting rolls, so I cast it at power level three.  I am calm so my dX roll is 10, I add +2 for my occult, +1 for bless, and a +1 bonus for being underencumbered but subtract 3 for the difficulty of the spell at power level three.  My target number to beat is 10 so I succeed.

GM: Unless something hiding nearby was trying to counter it, which they are not.

Kim (Thaugo):  So I only suffer half the normal darkness penalties.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Lead by flickering candlelight I quickly scan north and south for any doors or side exits. I want to minimize time in the tunnels to avoid racking up more suspicion.

GM: There looks like there are two doors to the north, one on each side, and one on the west wall to the south.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I dart down to the door by the south, I assume everyone is following me?

GM: Is anyone not following him? speak now? Anyone? Bueller, Bueller?  Ok.  You reach the door to the south, the sewer itself is fairly dry, but there is a rot smell and a fair amount of leaves in the center channel. The door is closer, do you want to spend time to try to open it quietly or just force it open? Oh, and you guys take 1 suspicion from the candle going down the hall.

Tom (Jack): Didn't we already take suspicion from bringing light through into the hall?

GM: Yes, but then you delayed a while until Thaugo could catch up, rummage through and find a book in their pack and then cast a spell.

Tom (Jack): I pay the 1 luck.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I try and open the door first

GM: It opens easily

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I duck inside

GM: Everyone not following? Speak now? No? Ok.  So Sir Vancierge ducks into the room and sees the vague outlines of a horrid scene with his lone candle, though Thaugo can see it much clearer. A trio of gaunt humanoid figures with disturbingly long fingers and over-sized yellow eyes are chewing bits of skin and hair off a desiccated human corpse. They hiss angrily at you. Roll for initiative.

Kim (Thaugo): I speak infernal, couldn't I maybe talk to them?

GM: Maybe, but roll for initiative. You don't know what they are going to do.

Kim (Thaugo): 4
Chuck (Abraham): 5
Guy (Sir Vancierge): 1
Julia (Brother Cadmus): 2
Tom (Jack): 6
GM: They are on 3. Sir Vancierge is up first.
Kim (Thaugo): Wait, they are still all clustered around the desiccated corpse right?
GM: Yes?
Kim (Thaugo): Then I interrupt everyone before they can move to cast Flaming Orb on them. They are clustered so I should be able to hit 3 of them with a power level 2 spell. They look like undead so they should take double damage from fire. I can't quite cast it that high though normally. So I'll become reckless and roll a d20. I'll have +4 to the casting roll and -6 from the difficulty with a target to beat of 10. I get a 14 on the d20 for a total result of 12. I cast the spell at power level 2, which lets me hit 3 targets who are clustered together for a repeating d6 of damage each. I add +1 because I am blessed so the first one takes 5 damage, the second one times 6 damage and the third one I roll a 6, which repeats and lets me roll a 4. With a +1 bonus for bless that one takes 11 damage.

GM: They don't have any milestones so they can't make saving throws.  You are correct that they are undead so they do take double damage, all of them are incinerated and they don't even have time to scream.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Rock on! High five!

GM: One of their corpses is still on fire,

GM Rolls some d6's

GM: As is the desiccated corpse they were clustered around which goes up like tinder.  You also see in the better light the room is full of desiccated corpses.  The flaming explosion itself created 2 light, and the corpses are each proving 1d6 more as the room is catching on fire.  As an inferno it will create, lets say 20 light.

Tom (Jack): But we aren't in a hallway right?

GM: No, but you didn't have time to close the door. Which on the one hand will let you flee back out before taking damage, but on the other hand it lets light slip out into the hallway.  Rolling 2d6 the corpses on fire are creating 5 light, plus the 2 from the explosion, plus the 1 from the candle is 8.  So 4 light spills into the hallway for 4 suspicion.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): I say we just trigger the encounter and ditch out of the this room, we'll try and hide back in the store room since it should take whatever comes looking for us awhile to find us.

GM: Anyone spending luck to avoid suspicion? No?  Ok, you all take 4 except Thaugo who takes 8.

Kim (Thaugo): I have 8 suspicion and 6 agility. I trigger an encounter and reset my suspicion to 0. Everyone else loses up to 6 suspicion, which I think will clear it for everyone.

The GM rolls some dice and notes the random encounter, a vengeful wraith

GM: Since everyone has an action left I assume you are all moving  out the door back into the sewer tunnel?

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Yes, I am also using my second action to close the door behind me to prevent more light from streaming into the tunnel.  Everyone can interrupt me to move past me before hand if initiative matters.

GM: Since Thaugo interrupted everyone it doesn't matter, everyone has actions left to leave before you close the door.

Chuck (Abraham): And we learned a valuable lesson about using fiery explosions to solve problems when attempting stealth.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Speak for yourself, I aint learned shit.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Lets head North to the door on the east.

GM: Unless you say otherwise, everyone is following. Take 1 suspicion from light through the tunnel.

Kim (Thaugo): We already got one encounter incoming? Should we pay luck to keep from getting a second?

GM: Some of the results on the encounter table might be null, you don't know for certain something is incoming.

Chuck (Abraham): Lets save our luck for combat at this point.

GM: Fair enough, as you see a dark vaguely humanoid shape approaching from behind. It has gotten very close to you, roll initiative as it enters your area.

Kim (Thaugo): Whats it look like?

GM: Its really dark

Kim (Thaugo): I cast Owl Eyes on myself remember

GM: Hasn't that run out yet?

Kim (Thaugo): No, it lasts like 15 minutes. We ran into one room, immediately exploded it and haven't even made it to a second room yet.

GM: Its a wizened looking human clutching funerary robes close to his, or maybe her, body.

Kim (Thaugo): Is it transparent, or corporeal?

GM: It doesn't seem that solid.

Tom (Jack): Oh great its going to possess us, we've got one flickering candle so we are going to get driven mad in the dark. The 9 darkness is a 9 penalty to our resistance rolls.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Not me, I got a candle

Kim (Thaugo): I got night vision until my spell conks out

Chuck (Abraham): I have the exorcist power and a lot of luck

Julia (Brother Cadmus): I have 500 piety and am in a state of grace so can't be possessed.

Tom (Jack): Fuck.



Coming soon, I've got a proof in hand.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

NGR Play Example: Conflict

In this scene the party is confronting a Sidhe princess who has gained mental domination over a merchant that owes Abraham and Jack a large amount of money.



GM: So the Princess sits upon a throne of lashed together elk antlers in the center of the standing stones. Andre the merchant, as well as an octogenarian  noble in a scale shirt and gold crown, stand at her sides with glassy eyes. She gazes at Sir Vancierge...

Chuck (Abraham): Woah woah woah,  how can she know exactly which direction we are coming from.

GM: Well she could have just ensured she is facing you as you approach...

Chuck (Abraham): And she turned the entire throne to face us? I mean, it doesn't sound very stable so it can't be easy to just turn.

GM: Ok, so which direction are you approaching from?

Chuck (Abraham): Well, we are probably sneaking up from multiple angles since we knew she would be here at midnight.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I am not, I am just boldly marching up to face her.

Chuck (Abraham): What? Why?

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Just trust me on this

GM:  So which direction is everyone facing.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I come at whichever direction she is facing on her throne

GM: She is facing due east, the sun would have set behind her.

Chuck (Abraham): Then I would try to sneak around from the West.

Tom (Jack): I also try to sneak around from the West.

Kim (Thaugo): I try to sneak from the North.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): I try to sneak from the West too.

GM: Ok, so these stones are in an open grove in an otherwise dense forest.  You can approach to the edge of the treeline without any real risk. That is two areas away.  It is a full moon so the darkness is 2.

Guy (Sir Vancierge):  This could go south at any second.

GM: So initiative then

Guy (Sir Vancierge):  I roll my Agility die for my initiative, I get an 3 on my d8 and am therefore defending myself by default. I also plan to use my Faerie Lore skill to grant a +1 bonus, giving me a 4.

GM: Just to be clear, how the Faerie Lore going to help? I can think of several ways.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I plan to bargain with her and launch an appeal to her honour.

GM: Ok, Everyone else?

Tom (Jack): I choose to roll my Intelligence die for my initiative, I get a 5 on my d12 but am therefore not defending myself by default.

Chuck (Abraham): I have the Quick-Witted Rogue power so I roll both my Intelligence and Agility die and choose which one I want. I get a 7 on the Agility die and a 1 on the Intelligence die. I choose the 7 and am therefore defending myself by default.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): I roll my Agility die for my initiative and get a 4 on the d8. I am blessed which gives me a +1, so my initiative is 5 and I am defending myself by default.

Kim (Thaugo): Neither die is great anyway, so I will play it safe and roll my Agility Die. I get a 1 on my Agility die, my initiative is 1 and I am therefore defending myself by default.

GM:  The Princess rolled her Agility die for initiative and got a 6 on a d10. The merchant rolled his agility die and scored a 2 on a d6, while the knight rolled his agility die and scored a 3 on the d6. There are no ties.  Initiative 1 is up first, Kim?

Kim (Thaugo):  So I am using both actions to take two move actions to reach the standing stones.

GM: You will move at the end of the round, but until then you are still in your area.  You also won't have an action left to defend yourself from attacks, appeals, or attempts to spot you.

Kim (Thaugo): I have the Parkour Rogue power so I can defend myself as a free action when I take a move action.

GM: And thank god free means it doesn't take any of your two actions as it costs zero actions instead of some weird method where you have different arbitrary categories of things you can do in a round.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Yes, we get it. You don't like the Wednesday night game system.

GM: Ok, so next goes the Merchant.  He is going to keep watch to try and make a detection roll North.

Kim (Thaugo): At this point there isn't any indication where we are coming from,  wouldn't he just be scanning a random direction since there aren't 4 guards?

GM: I suppose so, I'll roll which direction he is peering towards the treeline. I rolled a d4 and got a 3. Never Eat Shredded Wheat, so he is gazing to the treeline at the South.  He is calm so his..

Everyone: We don't care, no one is there

GM: Maybe there is, maybe there is a third party in the south also trying to help out?  So he is calm, his dX roll is 10.  It is a detection roll, so he adds his stealth modifier of +1, and subtracts the darkness of 2 and the distance of 2 areas.  His detection roll is 10+1-2-2 for a total of 7.  He does not spot anyone.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Am I next?

GM: Sorry, next is the elderly knight.  He is keeping watch in a random direction. I roll a d4 and got a 3. He is gazing West.  He is also calm,  so his dX roll is 10.  His stealth modifier is -1, the darkness is 2, and it is 2 areas to the treeline.  His total detection roll score is 5.  Everyone at the west needs to make an evade check.

Chuck (Abraham):  I am calm so I have a dX roll of 10.  I add my stealth modifier of +5 and a +1 bonus for a dark cloak.  My evade check is 16, which is higher than 5 so I avoid detection.

GM: And to confirm, you don't have a lantern lit right, you can't hide with a light source.

Chuck (Abraham): Ya, I thought about it but decided against putting a glowing beacon in my hand when attempting a stealth mission.

GM: Fair enough, jeez. Everyone else?

Tom (Jack): I will interrupt that action to defend myself as I am not doing it by default and my initiative is higher than the elderly knight.

GM: Oh right, the Princess should probably interrupt to try and spot you first.

Chuck (Abraham): But she still really has no idea that this particular direction has anything going on, wouldn't it be random?

GM: I suppose, she'll wait to see what happens.

Tom (Jack):  So I am still calm, my dX roll is a 10.  My stealth modifier is +2, but my breastplate gives me -2.  My total Evade check score is 10. That is greater than 5 so I avoid detection.

Julia (Brother Cadmus):  I am zealous so I have to immediately become reckless in a conflict.  So I am rolling a d20 for my dX. I roll a 2 and have a stealth modifier of +1 for a total of 3.  This would mean I suffer a hit, so I shall use my available second action on a do-over by Remaining Perfectly Still.  I roll another d20 and score a 1.  This is a worse result so I keep the 2. I still suffer a hit, which gives the Elderly Knight a success. I also tried and failed a do-over and suffer a penalty. In this case the Elderly Knight scores an additional success.

GM: The Elderly Knight uses the first success to score a repeating Perception Die of Suspicion against you, and the second success will be to double the result.  I roll a d4 for his Perception Die and get a 2. He doubles the result to 4.  You suffer 4 suspicion.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Is it worth it for me to spend luck to negate this guys?

Chuck (Abraham): Did anyone remember to bring missile weapons so we can pepper him with shots?

Tom (Jack): I did.

Chuck (Abraham): Then the rest of us can't stay hidden forever anyway, and its open ground to the standing stones and we can't be hidden if they look at us before we reach them.  Don't waste luck points.

Julia (Brother Cadmus):  Ok, I accrue the suspicion.

GM: I feel compelled to explain how that will impact you in great detail for some reason.  When those accrued points of suspicion equal you Agility score you will be found.  When they reach half your Agility score you will be unable to do anything beyond hide without being found.  You also suffer a penalty to all evade checks equal to how much suspicion you have accrued.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Of course, and it is perfectly normal for us to explain these common mechanics in such detail.

GM: Guy?

Guy (Sir Vancierge):  I am spending one action moving forward and the other talking to the princess, making an appeal to ask her to release the merchant.

GM: You really think she will just give him up?

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I think she will stubbornly refuse despite me proving the error of her ways, but that will mean she can't use any fate points in the battle.

GM: Fair enough, but if she wins you will be in the same position.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Ok, I make an appeal to her and call out. "Fair princess, show your mercy upon the lesser creatures and free our friend".  I am still calm, so my dX roll is 10. I add my entire presence modifier of +4, and we are two areas away so that is a penalty of -2 for a total score of 12.

GM: The Princess is still calm, so her dX roll is 10. She adds her presence modifier of +6  and a +1 bonus for sitting in the throne, for a total score of 17.

Chuck (Abraham): The throne gives a bonus?

GM: I figure its similar to ceremonial clothing, it has a regal nature.

Chuck (Abraham): Isn't it a pile of antlers?

GM: In the shadows of standing stones it seems cooler than it would it broad daylight.

Chuck (Abraham): So would we get a bonus for a throne?

GM: If you were sitting in one I suppose, be hard to move about though.

Chuck (Abraham): How much are palanquin chairs?

GM: Not important right now, who is next?

Julia (Brother Cadmus): I would be next but I spent one of my two actions defending myself and the other "Remaining perfectly still" as a do-over action.

GM: Jack is also in 5, but you two are on the same side so it doesn't matter who goes next.

Tom (Jack): I have already used one action defending myself. I am not sure what the princess is going to do so I should hold my action.

GM: There is no such thing as holding your action.  You can only hold off on acting until you initiative count, initiative is crucially important in conflicts.

Tom (Jack): How could I forget such a basic concept, I use my action to load my bow.

GM: The princess is next.  Sir Vancierge isn't defending himself and she is still calm so it would be an automatic critical hit if she went after him in some manner,  but as Cadmus has 4 suspicion there is rustling in the bushes and she might be leery of treachery.

Chuck (Abraham): Lots of options, what is she doing since she can't hold her action either.

GM: She is haughty and arrogant, who would dare try to ambush her? She sneers at Sir Vancierge. "He trespassed in my domain, even among your mortal nobility is that not a crime for commoners to do?".  She is calm so her dX roll is 10, she adds her presence modifier of 6 and a +1 bonus for the throne she is sitting in. She takes a penalty of 2 for the distance.  Her total is 15.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I did not spend an action to defend myself this round, so I have no defence. That makes it a critical hit.

GM: She has two successes.  As I didn't specify what she was doing, the default for an appeal is an intelligence die of influence.  Her second success shall be to double the result.  Her intelligence die is a d8.  She rolls a 4 on the d8, and adds a bonus of +1 for her skill "mortal meddling" to make the total of 5.  She then doubles the total result and scores 10 influence.  This builds up against your will.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I do not spend any luck points to reduce the amount of influence I take.  I have 12 will so I am not yet discredited in her eyes.

GM: I think Abraham is the last to go.

Chuck (Abraham):  I have already used one action defending myself, my next will be to move one area closer to the standing stones.

GM:   At this point movements happen.  Thaugo moves to the standing stones.  Abraham moves to the open ground to the west of the standing stones, and Sir Vancierge moves to the open field just east of the standing stones. Its the now the next round. Initiatives everyone.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I rolled my Agility die and got an 3.

Chuck (Abraham): I rolled by my Agility die and my Intelligence die because I am Quick-Witted. I rolled a 3 on the d8 and a 3 on the d4. So I will use my Agility die result of 3.

Tom (Jack): I am rolling my Intelligence die. I roll a d12 and get a 2, which is quite bad as I won't be defending myself automatically.

Kim (Thaugo): I roll my Agility die and get a 4.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): I roll my Agility die and get an 8. I am blessed which gives me a further +1, for an initiative result of 9.

GM:  The merchant rolls a d6 and goes on 6. The Elderly Knight rolls a d6 and goes on 2.  The Sidhe Princess rolls a d8 and goes on 1.  Jack and The Elderly Knight need to roll off.  The Elderly Knight rolls a d6 and gets a 2. He is on 2-2.

Tom (Jack): I roll a d6 and get a 1. Crap. I am on 2-1, and will have to go before the Elderly Knight.


 GM: The princess has the lowest initiative and is going first regardless. She is going to demand Sir Vancierge grovel and depart.  She is calm so..

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I interrupt her to throw my sword at her since I am now only one area away which is throwing distance.

GM:  The sword has the defensive tag, you specifically can't throw it effectively.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Ok, I throw my crowbar then.

GM: That is in your backpack, you'd have to use an action to try and draw it.  Backpacks take ?d4 actions to find the right item. So you would roll a d4 and only manage to grab the crowbar in your rummaging if you roll a 4, that could take several rounds if you are unlucky.

Kim (Thaugo): I interrupt to cast the miracle "Bless" on Sir Vancierge.  Can I pay for it using his own Piety points instead of using my own?

GM: He is part of the Holy Church while your patron is a malevolent demon of the abyss, so no. If you want to bless him with your infernal patron's magic you'll have to cash in your own piety.

Kim (Thaugo): Ok, its just 1 piety anyway.  Guy, Vanny Boy now gets a +1 bonus to every die roll.

Guy (Sir Vancierge):  Ok, I spend my first action trying to get the crowbar. I roll a d4 and get a 1, so I don't get it.

Kim (Thaugo): Spend a fate, since once her appeal goes off you will be discredited and unable to use them after you stubbornly refuse to grovel and flee.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I spend a fate point to re-roll. I get a 3. I guess its time to burn more.

Kim (Thaugo): Wouldn't the +1 bonus from the fate make that a 4, I am pretty sure it does.

GM: Uh.. does it?

Kim (Thaugo):  Yes.  Yes it does.  Unless you are going to look up a rule in play and not only be scorned but give us bonus awesomeness at the end of the night.

GM: Fuck it, I guess it does.  You grab the crowbar. That means you had to drop either your sword or shield to hold it though.

Note.  It doesn't work that way since ?d4 doesn't mean roll a 4 or more, its roll the maximum result. But there ARE specific rules against looking up rules. 

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I drop my sword.  I use my second action as part of the interrupt to hurl the damn thing at her head. I am still calm so my dX roll is 10. I add my combat modifier of +4 and a +1 bonus for the crowbar being a blunt weapon. I also subtract -1 for the distance for 14.

GM: You also subtract 2 for the darkness.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Ok, so 12.

GM: The Elderly Knight will block to take the defence for her as a free action since he has Guard.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): He can't, he has lower initiative than me.

GM: Damn, ok the Merchant could do it and spend an action...

Tom(Jack): Phew

GM: Oh wait, no that doesn't make sense as they know there is noise over there.  Fuck it, the attack is 12 right?

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Yes.

GM: Ok, so she is calm and her dX roll is 10, and her combat is +2 so she is fine.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Isn't she prone? Because she is sitting on the throne?

GM: Well she isn't prone really...

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Well I should at least get the high ground bonus then, but I thought that was prone.

GM: Ya, that's reasonable because you could knock her prone from her chair.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): So that should be a 14 for the attack, and don't give me the "no bonuses after the roll" since Prone should have given her a penalty to her defence instead of a bonus to my attack.

GM: Fair,  so with 14 she will have to roll because her defence would be 12 if she stays calm.  She will become reckless and roll a d20 since an iron crowbar could mess her up.  She rolls a d20 and gets a 13. She adds 2 for her combat modifier and ducks as the crowbar zips by her head.  She is going to cast..

Guy (Sir Vancierge): This was all an interruption remember? She was about to launch an appeal. She can't change her action now.

GM: Oh right.  Well you aren't defending yourself and so she'll auto crit and deal those last two points of influence.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I might spend luck, she could also roll a 1 and fumble since she isn't calm anymore.

GM: Fair enough, ok I roll a 13 and..

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Ya its fine, I become discredited.  I am not going to leave or grovel so I choose stubborn refusal.  I heal luck at the worst possible rate and can't use fates this encounter as I believe in my heart of hearts I am in the wrong even if I won't admit it.  She made a good point with the appealing to my social class.

GM: Ok,  next is Jack.

Tom (Jack): First I defend myself.

GM: The Elderly knight is interrupting to try and scan the treeline to the west.

Chuck (Abraham): Since he will spot me in the open, I interrupt to throw my silver dagger at him.

GM: Go for it.

Chuck (Abraham): I am not a great fighter, and its dark so I probably won't hit calm as he has a shield right?

GM: Yep.

Chuck (Abraham): So I will become reckless and roll a d20. I get a 13, which is my lucky number. Rolling your lucky number on an attack while reckless gives me an opportunity attack. But first I will finish my main attack.  I rolled a 13 and add my combat modifier of +2 but subtract the range penalty of 1 for one area. My attack total is 14.

GM: The Elderly Knight is calm and has a dX score of 10.  His combat modifier is +1 and his medium shield gives him +2 more.  His mail shirt gives him a -1 penalty which makes his total 12.  You hit him, but it is not a critical hit. He is wearing a golden crown that counts as a helmet so you would need to beat his defence by 8 to score a critical hit.   A mail shirt is only partial armour and would be bypassed on a critical hit, but as you did not score a critical hit it will protect him.

Chuck (Abraham): I roll a d4 damage and score a 3. I have low strength and suffer a -1 damage penalty to 2. I do 2 points of damage.

GM: His mail shirt absorbs 3 points. Technically you threw a silver dagger and this is a steel shirt so if we bring materials into play it would stop more..

Chuck (Abraham): Do we need to worry about material

GM: Maybe you should stop trying to use a silver dagger as a standard weapon if you don't want it to come up. Doesn't matter for right now anyway.

Chuck (Abraham): Ok, I also get an opportunity attack though.  This is any attack that isn't with my main weapon.  This is a ranged attack though so my options seem limited.  Maybe the impact of the dagger hitting his mail shirt caused him to stumble backwards towards the throne, bumping into it and potentially knocking the Princess prone?

GM: Ok, roll for it as a standard Knockdown attack.

Chuck (Abraham): I rolled a 3 on the d20, so I doubt that is a hit.

GM: The Princess is reckless, so maybe.

Chuck (Abraham): Oh right, its not against the Elderly Knight.  So I add 2 for a total of 5.

GM: I rolled a 15 on the d20 for the Princess. Her throne is jostled and she glares at the Elderly Knight, but nothing more happens.  Then the Elderly Knight completes his action.  He automatically spots Abraham since you are standing in the middle of open ground.

Chuck (Abraham): I am not wasting an action defending myself against that.

GM: And being still calm, he still scores a 5 onto a detection roll to spot both Cadmus and Jack.

Tom (Jack): He interrupted me defending myself so I can't do anything except take a hit.

GM: Correct, he beat you by 5 so that would be a critical hit

Tom (Jack): You said the crown counts as a helmet, meaning he'd need to beat my defence of 0 by 8 to score a critical on a detection roll.

GM: Oh, my bad. You are right, just a regular hit.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): I do not defend myself and so also suffer a hit.

GM: Ok for Jack he rolls an exploding perception die and rolls a 3 on the d4.  You suffer 3.

Tom (Jack): I plan to stay hidden and snipe so I pay 3 luck points to reduce that suspicion to 0.

GM: For Cadmus it is a critical hit since you had a total score -4 right?

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Yes. Wait .. no. I have the Zealous Trait. The bonus it gives me to counteract always being reckless in a conflict is I ignore penalties for accruing points. He just scores a regular hit, the same as against Jack.

GM: He rolls an exploding perception die and will double the result. He rolls a 4 on the d4. This means he can roll again. He rolls a 4 on the second d4.  He rolls a THIRD d4 and gets a 2. He has caused 10 suspicion.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): I have now suffered 14, which is higher than my Agility score so I am spotted.

GM: So the elderly knight peers westward and see's Abraham standing in the field and spots the crazed Flagellant standing in the tree line, who luckily shields Jack from view. Next the merchant will try to spot Jack before he hides..

Tom (Jack): Woah, you have to announce and resolve all of your interruptions at once. You can't wait for a lower initiative interruption to resolve before interrupting yourself.

GM: Oh, that is right.  So no need for him to decide an action now.  You successfully begin defending yourself.

Tom (Jack): My second action is to shoot at the Elderly Knight. I am calm so my dX..

GM: You spent luck points, you have to move to at least On Edge.

Tom (Jack): Right. So I roll 3d6 for my dX and get 1,2, and 4.  7 is my lucky number but lucky numbers only count when you are reckless. I add my combat modifier of +2 and take away 2 for the darkness and 2 for the range. My total is 5.

GM: The Elderly Knight is still calm, so his defence is still 12 meaning you miss. Next up is Thaugo on a 4.

Chuck (Abraham): I am next actually since I haven't yet used an action to defend myself.  Andre has a rapier right?

GM: Yes, but it is still sheathed.

Chuck (Abraham): Ok, I spend my action moving into the standing stones.

GM: Ok, you will arrive at the end of the round. Now it is Thaugo.

Kim (Thaugo): I try and shove the Elderly Knight into the standing stones. I'll make it a knockdown attack. I am using my hands so that is a +1 for a blunt attack and my combat modifier is +0, and there is a -2 darkness penalty.  I will become reckless and roll a d20.

GM: Just a reminder, attacking in melee will expose you, you won't be hidden.

Kim (Thaugo): Yep, so I roll a d20 and get a 13. I add +1 for blunt , +0 for my combat modifier, and -2 for the darkness for a total of 12.  This is a knock-down attack primarily so he cannot use his shield for defence as a side effect of that type of attack.

GM: He uses the quickdraw combat trick to draw his sword for 0 actions.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I watch him do that, I have the Combat Tricks power so I can try and learn that later.

GM: Yes yes, but that is a downtime activity.  For right now this lets him parry and gain +1 on his defence. That would make his defence 11 if he stayed calm. But he will become reckless and roll a d20. He gets a natural 20 which is an epic success and automatically defends.

Kim (Thaugo): Aww

GM: Worse, he has the Riposte combat trick.  When he gets a natural 20 or a lucky number on his defence roll while parrying he can make a free attack with his sword.  He rolls a d20 for the attack and rolls an 8.  He has a combat modifier of +1 and his sword gives a +1 bonus when attacking for a total of 10.

Kim (Thaugo): I am reckless and roll a d20. I roll a 2 and add my combat modifier of +0 as well as a +1 to my defence for being underencumbered for a total of 3. He beat my defence roll by 5 and I am not wearing a helmet so that is a critical hit.

Tom (Jack): Leather armour counts as having a leather cap by default. Unless you specifically removed it at some point, that means he'd need to beat you by 6 to score a critical hit.

GM: Ok, so not a critical then?

Kim (Thaugo): Oh, its definitely a critical. No way is Thaugo messing up his hair with some stupid hat.

GM: Make note, +2 awesomeness to you at the end of the night.  The Elderly Knight slashes with the sword for d8 damage with a -1 penalty for strength.  He has two successes since it is a critical hit and will decide to use the second success to automatically do max damage on the d8. He thus scores 8 damage, -1 for low strength for a total of 7 damage to Thaugo.

Kim (Thaugo):  Thaugo is size 2, so that is halved to 3 damage since any partial is ignored.  Thaugo's armour then absorbs another point, lowering damage to 2.  I spend 2 luck points.

GM: Next up is the merchant.  He hasn't had to defend himself and Cadmus is too far away..

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Maybe I will cast a miracle on him, I could interrupt after all.

GM: Ok, fair enough.  First action is to draw his rapier and his

Julia (Brother Cadmus): I interrupt to start running two areas towards the stones.

GM:...O...K? you don't move until the end of the round.

Julia (Brother Cadmus) I know, but the order is important.  I start moving then he draws his rapier.

GM: Fine, then he throws his rapier at Abraham who isn't defending himself

Chuck (Abraham): A rapier is a defensive weapon, just like Sir Vancierge's sword you can't effectively throw it.

GM: Oh shit, ok so then he..

Julia (Brother Cadmus): He already announced he was drawing it and I already interrupted so that has been resolved.

GM: Ugg

Julia and Chuck high five

GM: Fine his second action is to move east into the same area as Sir Vancierge.  It is the end of the round so movements happen. Abraham and Cadmus move into the standing stones and Andre the merchant moves east to face Sir Vancierge.   Everyone roll initiative.

At this point the group stops noting the math for how Initiative is calculated, figuring everyone should have gotten the idea from the last two rounds.


Chuck (Abraham): 2 on Agility
Guy (Sir Vancierge): 7 on Agility
Tom (Jack): 12 on Intelligence
Kim (Thaugo): 4 on Agility
Julia (Brother Cadmus): 2 on Agility
GM: The Merchant Andre is on 5, The Elderly Knight is on 6, and the Sidhe Princess is on 3.  Chuck or Julia, one of you goes first.

Chuck (Abraham): I'll go first.  I clutch my holy symbol and exorcise the unclean Sidhe.

GM: You have the exorcist power, you don't need a holy symbol to do that

Chuck (Abraham): Yes, but it gives me +1 to my faith when brandished and its an iron holy symbol against a faerie folk, that will do double damage.

GM: Fair enough, what are you saying?

Chuck (Abraham): "By the saints above, you must retreat back under the earthen mounds!" , that way I can add my digging skill with damage. I roll a d20 and..

GM: Why the pause

Chuck (Abraham): Fuck, a 1 on the d20. Epic failure. I assume my holy symbol bursts into flame?

GM: Quite the opposite, as you brandish the iron symbol she cackles "You have no power here!".  You can see your breath linger in the now frigid air. The cross becomes deathly cold and frost coats both it and your hand causing frostbite.  You suffer a repeating d4 of damage.

Chuck (Abraham):  I roll a 3 on the d4.  I spend 3 luck points to reduce that to 0 damage.

GM: Julia? Brother Cadmus is next.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): That crowbar is still on the ground right?

GM: I suppose so

Julia (Brother Cadmus): And its Iron right?

GM: Yes

Julia (Brother Cadmus): I drop my club and pick it up

GM: This is a swirling melee at this point, so you'll have to make an Agility check to grab it.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Yep, I roll a d20 for my dX and get a 13.  I add my entire..

GM: We already did the Attribute check explanation.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): I get a 27, I grab it.

GM: Are you defending yourself as your second action?

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Nope, I am going to brain the Princess.

GM: Ok give me a second, a whole bunch of interrupts are probably going to happen here.   Ok, first up the Princess interrupts you to attempt to mentally possess Cadmus. That is just an appeal except it causes stress, potentially causing mental domination in her case.  She is doing this on a 3. Is anyone interrupting her?

Kim (Thaugo): Thaugo is interrupting her to bash head in with a spiked club on 4.

GM:  Ok, Andre the Merchant is interrupting you to stab Sir Vancierge

Guy (Sir Vancierge): That needs to be an interruption?

GM: It will force you to spend actions you can't use to throw something else with your own interruption.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Fair enough, I will interrupt to plead with Andre to fight the mental control of the princess on a 7.

GM:  Ok, lets now resolve this in reverse initiative order.  Sir Vancierge is up first.

Guy (Sir Vancierge):  Ok, I make an appeal against Andre by shouting "Fight it Andre, I know you are still in there". I could be calm but as a princess she probably has the leadership power like I do which would let the Merchant use her presence on his resistance roll and I know hers is high.  So I will become reckless and roll a d20 for my dX. I roll a natural 20 which is an epic success. The modifiers really don't matter since only another epic success could defend against it.

GM: Andre becomes reckless and rolls a d20 and rolls a 14.  Technically he could add +6 to his presence because she does have the Leadership power, but it won't help.  You score a critical hit, so you .. hrm.. how would that work since he is mentally dominated.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I was thinking like a knockdown check but for his brain?

GM: Yes, you can use those successes that way but he'll make will checks to avoid falling over gripping his head instead of agility.

Chuck (Abraham): Is that a rule

GM: Its a ruling, so lets go with it.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): If he's fighting it, wouldn't be opposite? Andre has to fail a will check to not grab his head?

GM: Fair enough, but remember he is a slimy weasel so he has low will.  He rolls a d20 for his attribute check and gets 12. He adds his 7 will and fails.  This is a critical success though,  so your second success improves it up to off balance as he gets a headache trying to remember who he really is.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Cool

GM: Continuing the chain of interruptions, he then attacks you with an extra -2 penalty for being off balance. He rolls a d20 and gets 11.  He adds +1 for his combat modifier and +1 for the rapier being a light weapon for a total of 13.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Doesn't he get -2 for darkness?

GM: Oh right, so 11.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I roll a d20 and get a 10, which is my lucky number.  I have combat modifier of +4, with -1 for chainmail, +1 for parrying with a sword, and +2 for my shield.  My total is 16 and so I defend myself. I also rolled my lucky number on the defence while parrying so I get a free attack with my sword because I too have the riposte combat trick.

GM: Ok

Guy (Sir Vancierge): So I roll a d20 and get a 12. I am attacking with the flat of my sword to make it a blunt weapon to try and deal stun damage.

GM: Its not meant for that, it'll add the crude and ineffective tags to the attack and lose any good ones a sword gives.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Sure,so a 12 and I add my combat modifier of +4, +1 for a blunt weapon and -1 for a crude weapon.  Oh and -2 for darkness for a total of 14.

GM: Andre rolls a d20 and gets a 9. He gets +1 for parrying with the rapier and +1 for his combat modifier which is 11, meaning you score a hit but not a critical hit. A stun attack deals 1 point of stun on a non-critical hit.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): He is also off balance,  so he would have a 9. And as he is not wearing a helmet that means it IS a critical hit.  Stun deals a strength die of stun damage on a critical hit. I also have an additional success which I will use on a knockdown.

GM: Ok, go for it.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): So I roll a 6 on my d8 and I am using my Fencing skill to add +1 since this is sword play that is causing the stun, for a total of 7 stun.

GM: The Princess is his leader so she can spend her luck points on him. She will spend 2 luck points to lower the amount of stun he took to 5, so he is not knocked unconscious as he has 10 strength and will pass out if he takes more than 5 stun and/or damage.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Next he needs to make an agility check because he was struck.

GM: He rolls a d20 and gets a 13. He adds his 10 agility for a total of 23. He suffers a -2 penalty for being off balance and a -5 penalty for the 5 points of stun for a total of 16. He fails and becomes off-balance. He is already off-balance so he becomes prone instead.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): My stomp combat trick allows me to make a free stomp attack on anyone who goes prone in front of me.

GM: The combo begins

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I roll a d20 and get 9. I add my combat modifier of +4, +1 for blunt attack of my foot, and +2 for the high ground advantage since he is prone and has no nearby allies. I subtract -2 for darkness for a total of 14.

GM: Andre rolls a d20 and gets a 19.  He adds +1 for his combat modifier and +1 for parrying. He subtracts 5 for being prone and 5 more for stun.  This makes his total 11, which is a hit.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): The stomp combat trick does a strength die of damage. I roll a d8 and get a 3. I don't want to kill him so I don't add any skills.

GM: No more luck is being wasted on him, you stomp on his gut and break a few ribs. He passes out. Next in the interruption chain is Thaugo.

Kim (Thaugo): I noticed you've been forgetting the +1 bonus to everything because I blessed you.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Oh shit, thats right.

GM: Too late now though, Kim?

Kim (Thaugo): I make an attack with my club.  I roll a d20 and get a 12. I add my combat modifier of +0. The club has a total modifier of +0. +1 for being blunt but -1 as a vicious weapon due to the spike. My total is 12.

GM: Because he has a higher initiative than you, the elderly knight is using a block action to defend in the place of the princess. This costs 0 actions because he has the Guard warrior power.

Kim (Thaugo): Isn't that an interruption?

GM: No, its part and parcel of how block actions work. They are declared after the attack roll but before the defence roll.

Tom (Jack): But the block itself can be interrupted right?

GM: Yes

Tom (Jack): Then I interrupt the block action with both of my own to reload and fire at the Elderly Knight.

GM: Ok, roll it.

Tom (Jack): I roll 3d6 and get 14. I add my combat modifier of +2, but -2 for distance and -2 for darkness for a total of 12.

GM: The Elderly Knight rolls a defence and gets a 5 on the d20. He adds +1 for his combat modifier, +2 for his shield, and -1 for his armour. He cannot parry an arrow so his total is 7.  He has a helmet so though you beat his defence by 5 it isn't a critical hit as you would need to beat his defence by 8 with a helmet.

Tom (Jack): I roll a repeating d6 for damage and can add my perception bonus of +1 to damage since it is a missile weapon. I roll a 2 and add +1 for my perception bonus doing 3 damage. That seems low so I use a fate point to re-roll. I roll a 6 on the d6 which lets it explode and add another d6. I roll a 1 on the second d6.  I don't like that so I am spending a second fate on that 1, I re-roll and get a 5.  My damage total is 6+5+1 for 12 damage.

GM:  His armour absorbs 3 points, but that is still 9 which would drop him.  Thaugo would potentially crush the Princesses brain so she is spending her last 6 luck to stop him from dying by reducing the damage he takes from 9 to 3.  He is injured, but not enough to collapse.  He then takes a defence roll against Thaugo's attack of 12.  He rolls a d20 and gets a 10. He has +1 for parrying, +2 for a shield, +1 for his combat modifier, -1 for armour and now -3 for injuries. His total is 10 which is a hit.

Kim (Thaugo): Thaugo deals 1d6 +4 damage. I roll a 2 so that is 6 damage.

GM: You can't add a larger bonus to the die than what you rolled. You rolled a 2 so you can only add +2 for a total of 4.  His armour absorbs 3 points, and he has 8 strength so even with the extra point he is still technically standing.

Kim (Thaugo): You forget that Thaugo is size 2. That 4 damage becomes 8.

GM: Oh right, shit. So the Elderly knight is paste. He is goes flying into the nearest standing stone with a noise like he was a bag of wet dirt.

Kim (Thaugo): Sklorp

GM: The Princess is next.  She goes all Cate Blanchett and screams in a booming voice "You dare stand against the ancient court of the Sidhe?".  She rolls a d20 and gets a 17, with her bonuses that is a 24 so she is going to make this a statement by spending her second action. On a hit this will therefore score an extra success.  She has the oration bard power which means that everyone within earshot is affected by this.  That is 24 for everyone in the stones, 23 for Sir Vancierge at one area away and 22 for Jack at two areas away.  Jack and Cadmus aren't defending themselves so they are critically hit automatically.

Tom (Jack): Fuckity fuck fuck fuck

GM:  This means 3 successes against them.  The first success will be to do an intelligence die of stress, so 1d10. The second will be to make the d10 result count as a maximum result of 10. And the third will be to double result to 20.  You both take 20 stress.

Tom (Jack): Ok, I have 13 luck left. So I spend that to lower the amount I take to 7. I only have 4 will because I am a mercurial coward so I will still go insane and fall under her spell. I spent 2 of my 3 fates re-rolling damage so I am down to 1 fate. To not be driven mad I need to roll a 4 or more on a d8 if I spend it to gain more luck points.

GM: Drumroll everyone, is this the end of Untouchable Jack?

Tom (Jack): I roll a d8 and get ... an 8! Ha! I actually have 1 luck point left over if I pay to reduce the stress to 0.  I am unstoppable.

GM: Boo, ok Cadmus.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): I am in a state of grace, I can't be mentally possessed. I have True Belief in my heart. Specifically the True Belief priest power and a stockpile of 500 piety.

GM: You would go insane instead.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): I suppose, I have 20 will so I only NEED to spend 1 luck.  But I'll spend my 9 luck points and take 11 stress. I will cash in a fate point for 1d6 more luck points as well. I roll a d6 and get 5. So I take 6 stress. I cash in one more fate point for 1d6 more luck points and get 3. I use them to lower my stress to 3 and that seems like a reasonable amount to take.

GM: Ok, Sir Vancierge?

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I roll a d20 for my resistance roll and get a 5. My presence is +4 so that is still a critical hit.

GM: You'll take 20 too.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I have 14 luck, so I will spend it all and take 6 stress.  I will spend a fate to gain d6 luck..

GM: You can't. Earlier you chose "Stubborn Refusal" when you were convinced of the error of your ways from her appeal and that prevents you from using fate points in this.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): Well, I am halfway to being mindcontrolled then.

GM: Thaugo?

Kim (Thaugo): I roll a d20 and get an 19.  Unfortunately my presence is -1 giving me a total of 18 so that is still a critical hit.

Guy (Sir Vancierge): I have the Leadership bard power, you can use my presence of +4 on the resistance roll.

Kim (Thaugo): In that case I have a 23, which is a hit but not a critical hit.

GM: Being a statement that is still a two successes. She will do 10 stress.

Kim (Thaugo): My will is 16 so I just take the whole hit.

GM: Not spending any luck?

Kim (Thaugo): I only have 2 left, and I have the Eccentric wizard power, so that 10 stress is going to be +10 to spell casting and counterspells due to the insight my madness will give me into the arcane.

GM: Ok, that leaves Abraham.

Chuck (Abraham):  Ok I roll the d20 and get 14. I add our dear leader's presence of +4 for a total of 18 which is still a critical hit unfortunately.

GM: That is 20 stress.

Chuck (Abraham): The Exorcism priest ability lets me spend luck on a 2:1 ratio against psychic assaults, spiritual possessions, and supernatural terror. I assume this qualifies?

GM: Pretty much textbook case.

Chuck (Abraham): I spend 10 of my remaining 12 luck to avoid taking any stress.

GM: Ok, that leaves Cadmus.

Julia (Brother Cadmus):  Ok, I make an attack against the Princess.  I roll a d20 and add my combat bonus of +3, +1 for being blessed, and hrm... whats a crowbar do?

GM: How are you using it? Blunt or are you gouging?

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Oh, definitely using it to sink teeth into her skull.

GM: Then its piercing, and devastating. Its also not meant for this and has no weapon grips so its crude and unsuitable.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): So an extra -2 and -2 for darkness? +0 total?

GM: Seems right, its medium so it would do d8 repeating damage.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Here goes,  I roll a d20 and get a 5. I am spending a fate point. I get a 7 this time. I am spending another fate point.  I get an 17. So my total is ..wait, +2 for high ground so 19.

GM: High ground?

Julia (Brother Cadmus): She hasn't actually ever spent an action to get out of the damn throne.

GM: Wait didn't she.. No, shit she didn't.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): So 19.

GM: Well she rolls a d20 for defence and gets 4, with +2 for combat. She is using her fate to re-roll and gets an 8, for a total of 10.  So she is using her last fate for 12. Her score is therefore 14. Shit.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): So thanks to her not getting out of her throne I get a critical hit.

GM: Doubling the damage?

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Nope, I am taking maximum on the first die.  So I get an 8, and roll another d8 to get...a second 8! I roll again and get a 4!

GM: And the other option?

Julia (Brother Cadmus): What

GM: Its unsuitable, you roll damage twice and pick the worst result. So one option was 8,8 and 4 the other is ?

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Aww, fine.  The automatic 8 on the first, and 2 on the next d8.  10 with a bonus of +1 for me being blessed and +3 for me having Fervour and her being a faith enemy, what with her wicked adherence to the Sidhe courts. That is a total of 14.

GM: Ok, she has 10 luck so she takes 4 points of actual injury...

Julia (Brother Cadmus): Its also an iron crowbar, as a Sidhe that deals double damage right? so 28?

GM: So Brother Cadmus rolls to the ground and grabs the crowbar, springing to his feet as the world goes to hell about him and sinks it into the temple of the Sidhe princess.

Julia (Brother Cadmus): I pull her corpse out of her throne by yanking on the crowbar and then kick the damn thing over.

GM: Oh wait, Thaugo forgot to apply the -2 darkness penalty to the resistance roll against ..

Kim (Thaugo): Too late now.