A demoness, for a change

4 September, 2008 at 8:22 pm (actual play, persistent fantasy) ()

GM: Me. Players: Arirmind, wgaztari, ksym. Social setting: This particular composition of players have not played together before. Also, not all people had met within half a year. Further, we played in my home, where people (excluding me) had not spend significant time before this. Result: Much talk, some play of Uno (it broke wgaztari), some roleplay.

Random generator:

Innkeeper who sells wealthy guests to a malevolent power.
A band of demons, laughing and malicious, authors of debauched sensuality and corrupt appetites.
A king’s chief huntsman, preparing to become a young and inexperienced master performer
A simple insult, casually inflicted, striking very, very deep.

The two first entries were actually used (the fourth maybe somewhat accidentally in play). Characters were Cadoc, a treasure hunter with broken bones, as played by wgaztari; Chen Pong, a merchant with a precious stone for an eye such that it allows one to close gates and banish demons as played by Arirmind; Perlyacekanach, basically a succubi with mind-controlling powers, as played by ksym. Perly also had an igor, Work.

The game is set in the same tavern that was part of the first game in this series.

Play

Cadoc is recovering from the grievous injuries he sustained when fighting a griffon. The recovery is taking place in a tavern (which we really ought to name the next time it comes up in play). Chen Pong arrives and offers a round of drinks to everyone, then inquires the tavern-keeper of opportunities where a lot of money might trade hands (the tavern-keeper is selling guests to interesting creatures, as known by players, but not merchant Pon). Cadoc hears the noise and comes down from his room.

Perly, cloak-covered and leather-clad, enters the inn. Chen Pong’s eye starts tingling and he gives up seeking an opportunity for getting rich, because it would not work anyway. People keep to themselves, in sharp contrast to the gregariousness of moments before. Perly’s igor carries a coffin after her, though few notice. The ale Cadoc grabbed is spilled to the floor as Perly bumps into him. Cadoc calls her on the act, yet is powerless under her gaze (through which her domination works). Cadoc goes down and licks the spilled ale. Perly orders wine and a room to which she departs, igor right after her.

Some miscellaneous bumpling by the igor after which Chen Pong and Cadoc are negotiating in the common room. A plan and trading: Cadoc is to kill the woman, given that dealer Pong gives Cadoc (five doses of) power dust, a smoke bomb, a rocket like those used in fireworks and a fine hat made of crocodile skin, and in return receives the ruby acquired by Cadoc during his former adventuring. A bargain, really. The hat is that good.

Cadoc, on the way to his room, sees Work (the igor) opening a door to let a maid, carrying wine and a sealed letter, in. Cadoc decides to wait for the maid to come out, sniffing some power dust while waiting. Inside Perly does not approve of the wine and sneers at the letter with the implications of allies of greater power, which she interprets as meaning Martoh, by her knowledge banished from this world. Evidently the maid is sent away with an urgent message to the tavern-keeper.

Cadoc, empowered by the dust and barely feeling the pain of his broken bones, throws the smoke bomb in and rushes past the fumbling igor. Some dialogue and failed attempts at domination later the succubus dives/falls out of window to avoid incoming fireworks. Some taunting, then igor again tries to grab Cadoc, who easily defenestrates the crude attacker.

Empowered by the power dust, Cadoc leaps towards Perly, but Work intercept the knife with his back. They all hit the ground, there is creative use of a whip and a hat when Chen Pong enters the scene. His stony eye undulating violet light, and the ruby in his hand slighty pulsing he confronts the hellish spawn, evidently casting the ruby at it, with the result being one stone statue of a demoness.

And one doped treasure hunter, owing a favour to master Pong.

Notes

  1. Ksym can play random npcs. Exploit.
  2. Chen’s name is no longer in the list. He is a character available for all and sundry to play. Hence: This result is possible to achieve, maybe even easy, given a sufficiently powerful character and sufficiently careful play.
  3. Stealing a bit from Burning Wheel: Traits are otherness. Nonhumans need to have traits to that effect.

Memorabilia

  • “Soul trade center.”
  • Drug-addicted, knife-wielding Indiana Jones.

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Ropecon play report 2 – Blowing up (portions of) a pyramid

16 August, 2008 at 8:27 pm (actual play, game mastering) (, )

My first planned con game that was to involve a bunch of vikings did not happen. This one had six out of five places full. Two did not appear, however, which I do not find to be particularly courteous behaviour.

Players: Niko, Samu, Tomi, and either Samuli or Mikko. I had not met any of them before this game. Total strangers. Tomi (IIRC) had experience with Spirit of the Century and other indie/Forgish games (and dislikes Burning Wheel, the fool). Other players generally played D&D, with various amounts of experience divided among the other traditional roleplaying games.

(The lack of) preparation

My preparation for this game consisted of writing character sheets. In addition, I had run something similar before.

To the players I first made clear that I do not have a map prepared. They can add details. They can add stuff that is appropriate to the setting.

The players and their characters

Tomi was playing Dorian Faust, a british detective. Niko was playing André Menard (Hello Phil.), an incredibly lucky French adventurer of noble blood. Samu was playing Djazdah, an arabian priest ( Samuli/Mikko was playing Adelino Schnoor, a German explorer and now a madman due to having visited the pyramid once before.

If I get the names wrong, which is not impossible, pardon and please notify me of the error.

Of the players Tomi and Niko were very good, Tomi having experience with this kind of gaming and Niko presumably just being a good player. Samuli/Mikko, who had power to add all sorts of stuff to the fiction was reluctant to do so. He did seem to enjoy playing a plotting character, but did not do actual scheming. More revelling in knowing a secret. I hope he enjoyed his play. Samu was okay, not particularly active, but did play his part and contribute. He is what I would call a normal player playing with people he does not know in a style he is unfamiliar with. On reflection, that’s pretty good, given the circumstances.

Each character could do something, mistrusted someone (though not necessarily directly), and was looking for a particular object that would grant miraculous power, if acquired. To my shame I forgot that mister Faust was looking for a book. Others I did remember.

The rules

Characters have a number of traits. Trait gives one or two dice in relevant situations. Environment may roll some dice. Each die generates a success with probability 1/2 (even result means success, odd does not). Traps, in general, deal a minor effect in case of tie and major results when they win.

The dice pool approach does not work when there are this few dice being rolled. They were kind of boring. Using a flat d6+modifiers would have been more elegant, I presume. Alternatively, more dice.

The fiction

History: There’s this pyramid that has just been unearthed. It is somewhere in Egypt, pretty far from everything. Previous explorers are dead or mad. Disappeared they have, either way. The only exception being mister Schnoor, a German explorer now, mad (but not disappeared; death is disputable).

A party of adventurers including the aforementioned player characters and few NPCs (the remaining PC is also an NPC, but I play hims as a passive follower, which is something of a mistake). There’s also a bunch of slaves servants carrying things and so on. (Quoth Mister Faust: “There is no slavery in the British empire…”)

Game starts as the characters arrive to the pyramid. Blowing up things immediately becomes the favoured way of making progress inside the pyramid. (Räjämiittiä galore.) There are dead ends, traps, exploration and explosions. The servants run away or die, a few at a time. One fake throne room, too. It becomes increasingly obvious that the pyramid is not entirely of Egyptian construction. A key is found in the fake throne room. (I gave one player the map and asked him to email it to me, but he probably forgot or misplaced the address. It is quite characteristic of the maps I draw: Messy, sketchy, disposable.)

The climax happens behind a sealed door. The German guide won’t go there (the player’s idea, not mine, but a necessary one). Mister Faust goes to investigate it, remarkably fails the relevant roll, and next there are poison needles piercing his arm. Ouch. There’s fast necrosis and mister Faust goes back to the jeeps, searching for remedy. His arm actually starts slowly melting.

Mister Menard opens the door and happens to do so via a nontrapped switch. A short corridor and there’s a large room constructed of arbitrarily shaped slabs of stone. There are some stone walls, evidently of no purpose whatsoever, and part of the floor and wall is seamless metal. There’s a huge pedestal with some chains connecting it to the roof. There are lots of holes that could fire spears or arrows or darts or snakes. Some testing reveals traps. Many traps. Mister Menard charges right through the room to the pedestal, miraculously avoiding all the traps. He tries climbing atop the pedestal, marginally succeeds, and a horde of scorpions (IIRC) floods the place. Next attempt gets him up the pedestal, where a bunch of stuff, including stuff everyone was looking for, is discovered (excluding the book I forgot).

Djazdah runs away from scorpions and is pierced and killed by all the traps in the real treasure room. Menard, while climbing atop the pedestal, triggered various other traps and swarm after swarm of creatures sweep the dead Djazdah, leaving nothing but the skeleton.

Monsieur Menard equips the stuff on the pedestal, gets down and runs through the trapped area. Schnoor begs for the crown, but Menard does not quite feel like giving it up. The djinn inhabiting/being Schnoor creates an illusory tendril of molten metal reaching for Menard, who burns his hand and then notices that it is not quite real. Another similar tendril appears and reaches for Djazdah’s skeleton, and a djinn formed of one skeleton and some semi-liquid metal is created. Menard runs. The new djinn destroys the one who was once Schnoor.

Menard reaches the jeeps (and confirms that yes, Faust has indeed lost an arm and no, it is not a very realistic illusion). The two drive away. The djinn creates a sandstorm, car crashes, which puts an effective end on the escape attempt.

The djinn catches the escapees. It is not formed of solid metal (not unlike certain characters in Terminator 2+). Some fighting and TNT later mister Faust has both the key and one of the items and essentially gets three wishes. After using those the key is dropped and monsieur Menard gets it and has the audacity to wish for more wishes. Game over, endless loop of wishes achieved.

Pacing

This was the first convention game I have ever GM’d. This particularly means that the pacing sucked. Most of the game was inconsequental filler (other examples of it: many encounters in random D&D adventures), which often did promote interesting dialogue, but was boring in and of itself. There were a few traps, lots of dynamite, and so on. The total game time was around 3 hours and 15 minutes, out of four hours the game slot took. Oh well…

Summary

I certainly enjoyed running this game. I’d go as far as to say that I had fun. Two of the players liked this game enough to come to my other game.

Be that as it may, the game was technically pretty bad. Pacing sucked, there was too much filler and the structure of the game was not very good. Given that the game was enjoyable, does it matter? Personally, I think that the game would have been even better if it had gone better, so, my answer is that yes, it does matter.

Also: The noise level was sufficiently high that I had to speak pretty loud. It almost hurt. Not quite. Sore throat, but nothing that stopped me from running another game.

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