Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fragments of the Last War 1.12

Eifer, Tirane, AC 19   

Session 12 began where Session 11 left off.

Grind convinced the ogre Cle (the smarter of the two brothers) to show him to the ogre encampment, then tasked Malpais and Nota'Cor to follow Ryo (the other ogre) to the witch's hovel to find Yavie.

After Grind and Cle left, the remaining humans begged to be freed.  Additionally, they realized another cage in the back of the cave held a dwarf.  Malpais left to scavenge a root that acted as a soporific, added it to the ogre Ryo's food, and once the ogre had passed out, he freed the humans and the dwarf.

The humans they sent back to the village, while the dwarf introduced himself as Alfonse, a priest of Grumbar the Stone from Caer Colwyn.  Grind's player went camping, but we had a new player arrive.  We haven't dealt much with the Caers.  Alfonse's player decided that sometime during the long centuries the dwarves of Colwyn had begun worshiping a great stone in the center of the caer.   Their worship of the older pantheon eclipsed, though never disappeared.  After the rescue, Alfonse offered to help find Yavie to repay his debt.

Trekking off in the direction Mal believed the ogre had pointed them, they soon became lost in the swamp.  On their last adventure in a swamp, the party was attacked by giant mosquitoes, so they were wary the entire time.

After some hours, they came across drunken singing.   On a relatively dry island in the swamp, they found a broken wagon and fifteen boxes of wine stacked in the center of a fairy ring.

A group of bright, multicolor mushrooms marked the edge of the ring and a gnome laid passed out drunk under one of the mushrooms.  In the center of the ring sat a green-skinned pixie on an open box of wine.

She refused to tell them her name, but hit on Malpais while explaining that the gnomes had been attacked.  She and Alfonse shared a bottle of wine.  Nota'Cor decided he would eat a mushroom and proceeded to burn one.

He found it tasted so delicious he cooked at ate them all, while the pixie screamed he was destroying her warding magic.  Nota'Cor passed out from the mushrooms.  Finally, she told them to go a bit north and see what she was afraid of and there they found the upper torso of a six-foot tall gingerbread man, holding a severed hand in one hand with blood on his mouth. 

Sufficiently bothered, Malpais and Alfonse returned to the fairy ring to find all the boxes of wine, the drunk gnome and the pixie gone.  Nota'Cor had again vomited fungus on himself.  Twice in one campaign.

Opposite a deep section of water from the island, the silver-haired man from the inn stood on the embankment taunted them.  He attempted to mind control Malpais, who resisted thanks to the screaming angry voice in his head.  Malpais wasn't sure whether to be glad or worried about this turn of events. 

The silver-haired main quickly ran laughing.  And of course, everyone chased after.  He led them through turns in the swamp, while Malpais gained grown jumping through the trees.

When he finally reached the edge of a lake, he removed a silver rapier and cut a hole in reality.  He then jumped through it into a grassland.  Malpais tried to follow but bounced off the newly filled hole.

They then saw they had been lead to a hovel similar to the one found in the eucalyptus forests a decade earlier.  They, of course, decided to investigate.

The wooden, thatched roof hovel built on stilts sat above the mud of a small island surrounded by deep swamp water.  A hole in the thatch matched the hole of the house they'd seen before so they approached the building recklessly. 

Mal jumped on the roof and swung his blunderbuss down into the empty hovel.  Alfonse remained outside drinking wine, while Nota'Cor strove inside.  There he found a copper ring and a painting of a man and a woman on the mantle.  Nota'Cor's player spent a Fate point and declared he was the man in the painting. This derailed what I had in mind, but I tossed out my stuff and went with it.  I then decided the inscription in the copper ring said, "To Nota'Cor with all my love."

At this point a ten foot, green skinned hag with long dagger nails burst through the floor boards and attempted to grab Nota'Cor.  Malpais shot her in the shoulder, she screamed and ducked back underground.  Nota'Cor's player decided he recognized her and thought she was beautiful so he ran after, dropping a rope in the hole.

Malpais and Alfonse followed after them both.  She rushed through the dark corridor. Blinded in the darkness, Nota'Cor lit his sword on fire and chased after with his companions in wake.

They arrived at the edge of a huge dark cavern to see her jump.  The light from Nota'Cor's fire barely lit anything. He then lit a torch off his sword and dropped it into the darkness.  Once it landed, amorphous shapes of blackness covered the torch.

Malpais felt the need to jump into the cavern and was drug out by his companions.  Once back to the house, Nota'Cor sealed the tunnel and Alfonse carved a warding statue and left it at the seal.

Back to the surface, they made their way back to the ogre cavern.

Continued on Fragments 1.13

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fragments of the Last War 1.11

Eifer, Tirane, AC 19  

Hijinks:  Nota'Cor became convinced he could transmute a lyre into silver and pass it off as the one important to Abadar.  This did not get past the High Priest, but was fantastic roleplay.

Undeterred, our party decided they would take their wagon - left at the Death's Head company earlier - and head for the town of Auras.  Malpais found the halfling kennelmasters he bought his first dog from and bought another. 

The first occurrence with the Pathfinder Plot Twist card took place as they were leaving the town.

Waiting in line at the South-East gate, the dwarven guard insisted on inspecting their wagon. Everyone tried to talk the guard out of it, poorly, which made him mores suspicious and he called for backup.

A couple of human guards came over and began rooting through their wagon, opening the wooden chests.  One found a small chest that no one in the party had seen before and opened it, finding a stash of untaxed tinton root (a numbing agent) and gripilotics (a hallucinogen made found the ground bones of grippli.)

The drugs themselves weren't necessarily illegal (which is pretty terrible considering what gripilotics are), but that they hadn't paid taxes on the goods, a severe crime. 

The party members like to negotiate as if they are in positions of power, which they aren't.  As a result, they tend to annoy people.  Finally, Grind decided to bribe the humans guarding them while the dwarves came back.

Why Nota'Cor, who knows Mind magic did not use it I do not know, but I didn't remind him.  It's hard not to tell people what you think they should do and let them win or fail on their own.  The results are more satisfying though.

Handing off some of the drugs to the humans, the party dashed through the gate (wagon and dog) only to alert the dwaves who mounted a posse of ponies to ride after them.

We had a nice chase scene that never involved fighting on the wagon or swashbuckling, but the party ran rather than try to murder a squad of dwarves.

Such a breakneck pace eventually tired out their mules and dog, so they decided to break for a rest.  While resting, they were approached by a wagon of three majara (anthropomorphic felines).  Two appeared to be guards as they held crossbows, which they also pointed at the party.  The driver of the wagon greeted them and introduced himself as Kritecray.

Too often time as players (well as people in general) we see what we think we see rather than ask what is.  The party does this often.  

On meeting Kritecray, they decided he was a simpleton who offered them questionable potions at a discount rate.  Nota'Cor, who knows nothing of alchemy, insisted the potions they purchased for 5 gold were what Kritecray claimed them to be.

Grind then decided to sell the drugs to the majara for the return of the 5 gold.   They assumed he would be imprisoned when reaching Cymru, but really he would just give the guards a portion in tax and then sell the rest for a huge profit.

The second occurrence with the Plot Twist card kicked in as as storm built off the coast.

As the storm increased in intensity, they looked for shelter and spotted a ruined watchtower on a hill in the distance.  They reached shelter inside the watchtower the storm hit the coast with full intensity.  By no means a hurricane, the rain and winds still would have drenched them and their animals.

Safely inside, Malpais built a fire that could vent out an opening in the roof and their prepared to rest for the evening.  Doing so he stirred a nest of centipedes, a foot long.  They killed a few, but most of them fled into a pile of debris in the center of the room.

During the second watch, Grind meditated and recalled - spending a Fate point - seeing Manuel Lupo, the Gracchi family Steward placing the small chest that had contained the tinton root and gripilotics into their wagon.

As he contemplated it, Malpais woke to stir the fire and noticed the debris pile moving.  He loaded his blunderbuss and fired a shot, blasting the debris and the face of a hiding hobgoblin.  Grind realized that the debris covered a hole and woke Nota'Cor.

Hobgoblin archers perched in the windows of the watchtower rained arrows down on them.  Nota'Cor weakened the wall (magic and then a Fate point) and brought two crashing down.  They proceeded to battle hobgoblins, when the caster of the bandits stunned Malpais and took him down into the hill through the hole in the watchtower floor.

Grind and Nota'Cor followed.  One hobgoblin fled, but they killed the caster and found a note on his body telling him to take a squad of hobgoblins to the area and harass travelers.  The note had been signed by Nilhoon.

The underground cave was artificial in construction with a a mouth to one side.  Two stone doors lead in other directions.  On the wall were carved images of dwarves fighting horrors and the name Jacques Bordeaux.  Malpais surmises it must be a dwarven tomb.

Grind opened one door, saw a room covered in spider webs with spiders the size of small dogs, and closed the door.  He decided he didn't want to deal with spiders.

He opened the second door and they walked down a long passage - Grind having to stoop - before coming to a side door.  Opening it, he found a small sarcophagus.  Grind refused to loot a grave  and opening the last door found a bigger room with a sarcophagus and the walls lined with alcoves holding mummified dwarves.  Grind and Nota'Cor both agreed they did not want to bother the tomb and left.

Insatiably curious Malpais tried to open the sarcophagus unsuccessfully.  He's only 2 feet tall.  Leaving the main room, he made his way to the smaller room and found that sarcophagus ajar.  Opening it, he was face to face with six monkey faced, demon bats who rushed him, screaming.  He passed out from fear.  Rather than take consequences from the mental stress, Malpais was taken out.  Silly frog.

Grind and Nota'Cor had made their way back to their camp in the watchtower at this point.  When they heard the screams, they looked to see five of the money faced, demon bats flying out of the tomb.  No one knew where the other creature went.

The next day, the storm had passed.  The party headed on to Auras.  On the road, they passed a wagonfull of halflings.  Greeting the party they asked about the road to Cymru, only to recoil in fear from Malpais.

Pressing on, the party arrived in Auras by nightfall.  A small farming village on the edge of a swamp, they had been told it was settled primarily by humans.

The town was quiet as they entered with no one in sight.  At the inn, simply named "The Inn," the patrons stared at them but refused to speak. The red-headed human bartender greeted them though, offering them welcome.

He had the stableboy take their wagon and mules to the back while offering them food, drink and a room.  They all ate and drank, but Grind decided he would camp outside town.

The Innkeeper warned him not to do this as the locals told of a legend of a hideous witch that would steal you after dark.  From the kitchen, a silver haired looking man watched them.  After he had gone to make camp, Grind realized that the silver-haired man was probably a Fey.

The Innkeeper also told them that Yavie was missing, had been for a week, but that her adopted mother might know more.

They all rested.  Malpais woke once in the room he and Nota'Cor shared feeling like someone was watching him.  Grind woke at his camp and felt eyes watching him.

The next day they visited Yavie's mother.  She was a bit daft and kept trying to sell them herbs, but they got a general idea where Yavie went.  Unfortunately, Malpais did not succeed on his tracking rolls and they ended up lost. 

They spied a group of humans talking about finding Yavie and getting those ogres, so they followed the humans, watched them attack ogres, and then after the ogres defeated them Grind approached.

Hob and his brother were attempting to cook one of the humans when Grind entered the cave.  We agreed Grind had been a Katar (war leader) during the Fey Invasion and Hob had served in his army.

Hob agreed to take him to see the Witch Lady and the other ogres when they told him they were looking for Yavie.

Parts of this session were inspired by the Dungeons and Dragons 3.x modules A Dark and Stormy Knight.

Continued on Fragments 1.12

Friday, September 19, 2014

Whimsy and Pathfinder Plot Twist Cards

Sometime ago, I picked up a set of Pathfinder Plot Twists.  They're a fun addition and if you ignore any d20 mechanics written on the cards, useful for any system.  They also make a second deck called Pathfinder Plot Twist Cards: Flashbacks to be used for backstory.

These cards are a lot like Whimsy Cards, produced for Ars Magica in the late 1980s.    Years ago (1987), Mark Rein-Hagen (Vampire: the Masquerade) and Jonathan Tweet (D&D 3x, 13th Age) created a wonderful game called Ars Magica - which, I have yet to actually play and have only run once - but it and Earthdawn rank as my two favorite games.

I played tons of old World of Darkness and 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 1990s with a stint into West End Games' in the d6 Star Wars, but never had the change to play either Ars Magica or Earthdawn.  I did buy copies in the used section of my local gaming store.  Still, it remains my intention to play/incorporate these games. 

One of the many things that enamored me about Ars Magica were Whimsy Cards.  These cards allowed narrativist alteration of game play by the player.  Ars Magica as a result was one of the earliest collaborative games. 

I've always found players who liked having a say in the game - though I know there are those who would prefer not to be so involved - but rarely found a Dungeon Master/Game Master/Storyteller/etc who liked giving up that much control.  I know I didn't and so never decided to implement whimsy cards in my games.

Coming back to tabletop in 2012 after a six year hiatus, I wanted to try new things and as it turned out the rpg world had changed in the late Aughts as well. More games, new ways of playing them, and room for experimentation.

I find Pathfinder's Plot Twist card decks to be very similar to Whimsy Cards.  When we were playing Pathfinder, I made them available for play - much to the enjoyment of the players.  In many ways, Fate points act similar to Whimsy Cards/Pathfinder Plot Twist cards only they aren't predefined.  Some players like this freedom.  Some players prefer the printed choice found on the card.

I read a blog a month or so ago about using these cards to help shape Fate games.  I can't seem to find the blog, so if anyone knows the url please tell me.  The author also recommended Rory's story cubes.  I'll probably pick these up this fall.

At the beginning of Session 11, I shuffled my Pathfinder Plot Twist deck and drew one card.  There were four options listed and I used three: a guard stops the party, a storm happens, an old enemy meets them at an inn. 

The results to follow in my write up of Fragments of the Last War, part 11.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fragments: Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, Fate

So far I've run my current fantasy game using three different systems.  It'd be nice to say system isn't important, but in reality each brought it's own quality to how we played the game.
We began the game in Pathfinder.  I played d20 when it first came out at the beginning of the Aughts and liked it plenty, but over time the mechanics of leveling and class began to feel restrictive.  Pathfinder addressed through the variety of character templates (not dissimilar to AD&D 2nd edition kits.)   That said, I felt challenged in 3.x D&D to keep up with feats and so when I began running Pathfinder I limited the players to official books only.

Low level D&D has always had a special appeal to me: danger, limited resources.  Still, Pathfinder felt overpowered even at first level.  They party either won or I'd adjust the challenged rating so high as to almost kill them.

That plus the underlying grid/miniature game - I know it isn't as prevalent as 4th edition but really it's there - as well as the focus of most classes on combat lent the game a combat encounter bent.  And this could be ok, but our best games involved far less combat.

There is something to be said for the old dungeon crawl and the way OD&D and AD&D1-2 handled it.  We haven't tried 5th edition D&D yet for this game - though I probably will at some point.

Savage Worlds was a lot of fun.  Something like a crunchy Fate.  I don't think our one session really gave us a chance to fully explore the system, so I need to plan on revisiting it as well.   Bennie's were fun and death was far more mechanical than Fate.

So fare the group is really enjoying Fate.  I think the prospect of defining aspects would be a good strategy to use for any tabletop game you play, even if aspects don't come into gameplay.  Writing good aspects is very helpful for roleplay later.

I've been tweaking a Fate 3 ruleset to use with the game with mixed results.  Weapons do more damage and armor has consequence soak, but I'm not certain this really adds anything to the game.

I think using weapons and armor as props with aspects that can provide free invokes might be better.

That said, I only intend to run this game in Fate until we finish the Gracchi wedding arc.  After that, we will be moving on to GURPS.

Other games systems I could run in addition to D&D 5 and maybe revisiting Savage Worlds are:
Basic Roleplay
Magic World
Runequest 6
Dragon Age
Burning Wheel
Dungeon World

That said, the players have enjoyed Fate Core more than Pathfinder.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fragments of the Last War 1.10

Eifer, Tirane, AC 19   

A predominately RP session, the party finally returned to Cymru after 10 years and 8 sessions. 

In the ten years since they had been in Cymru (fewer for Grind), the Old Town, once partially inhabited, was now overfilled with dwarven inhabitants.  Non-dwarves who once lived in there had been relocated to the outside of the old town hill/redoubt.  Following the relocations, the New Town grew up behind a larger circular wooden palisade fence.  As the party approached the northern new town gate, Malpais noted these palisades were currently being reinforced with stone.

As their wagon approached the gate, the party noticed a line of wagons stopped at the gate and each one inspected by a dwarf and his human assistant.  Grind bribed the dwarf with bear steak, and they were allowed in without further inspection.

Riding up the main avenue toward the Old Town gate, they noticed the buildings were mostly wooden, the streets were muddy, unpaved and covered in sewage, and those who lived here were all non-dwaves and poor.

Approaching the Old Town gate, the non-dwarves became cleaner looked wealthier.  The buildings were increasingly stone and the street was paved. At the end of the redoubt, the avenue split and followed the hillside in either direction.  The buildings here (mostly shops) were older and in good repair.

However, at the main gate to the Old Town, the dwarven guards denied them access.  Nota'Cor told them that they were members of the Death's Head mercenary company and had business in the city.  The guards told them the company had been relocated outside of the Old Town.  They now had a compound on the north-western edge of New Town.

Once again they are denied entrance, this time at the gates of the Death's Head.  According to the guard, no one named Nota'Cor nor Malpais appeared on the rolls.  When they demand to speak with Louis the Liar, they are permitted.

Though he once wore an eye-patch, Louis now had two perfectly good eyes.  He spied them entering his office and greeted the party, noting he owed them money with interest.  After paying, he told them sadly they were disenrolled years ago since they had only been recruits and never returned.  When Nota'Cor asked him for work, Louis told the group he no longer had the authority to hire new mercenaries without the approval of the Council.

The Dwarven council took over the town eight years earlier after the Order of the Gun left Cymru to fight a Horror west of Darvek.  They never returned and the dwarven families used their absence to consolidate power.  He noted that Loren Gracchi served as the leader of the counsel.

When Nota'Cor mentioned he was in possession of a Letter of Recommendation to Loren Gracchi, Louis laughed at them and replied they could have shown the letter to the guards at the main gate.

The Death's Head Mercenary company still had an entrance to Old Town, though he no longer controlled it, and Louis told the party to go through the tunnel and present their letter.  Once they did so, they were allowed into the dwarven center.  I've noticed I've taken to not providing hints to the party.  This way I don't tell them what I would want them to do and instead they take the lead.

Once inside the Old Town, Malpais commented on how clean it had become.  Making their way to the Gracchi estate, they found an engagement party in progress. Presenting their Letter, the guards invited them in and showed them to a sideroom.

The Steward, Manuel Lupo, a dwarf as well, brought the party dress clothes for the party and told them they were required to leave their weapons behind.  The ogre Grind refused to leave his naginata so remained in the room to mediate.

Nota'Cor and Malpais were lead to the roof garden where there were introduced to some guests, many groups of dwarves formed their own circles and excluded others, but the non-dwarves were willing to talk to them.  Gilna Gracchi greeted them and noted how long it had been since they were away.  When she learned of Grind she excused herself and went to find him.  Since he would not leave his weapon behind, she told him he could bring it.

Nota'Cor found a group of travelers he impressed with his bravado.  Numerous dwarven children tried to get Malpais to play chase.  Grind made his way to the banquet table and ate.

After awhile, Loren Gracchi - an aging dwarf - appeared and announced his daughter's engagement to Castor Valis.  The dwarven families were quiet, but everyone else clapped.  Castor then arrived and the party first learned he was human.  They joined the line that congratulated the couple and Loren left the party.

A little while later the steward Manuel Lupo told them that Loren Gracchi wanted to see them and led the party to a wood-lined study with inlaid bookcases.  He asked for the Letter, bade them sit, and offered them refreshment.  He noted they had been recommended to him and that he needed people with no current political ties.

The five other powerful dwarven familes in Cymru - Ferrum, Aurum, Carbonis, and Gemma - opposed the marriage and he was concerned they would try to stop it, perhaps even by assassinating Castor. He tasked them with helping Castor make certain the marriage occurred.  In exchanged he offered them an old iron tower to the northwest as well as joint political leadership of the area as subordinates to Cymru.

They agreed and signed a contract with the Gracchi family.  Afterwards, Loren introduced them to his new retainer - the ogre Halen, whom of course the party (minus Grind) already knew.

It had already been established that Malpais thinks humans were responsible for the Horrors, so he doesn't like them.  Instead, Nota'Cor took lead on talking with Castor, who informed them that he was having difficulty obtaining an agreement with the High Priest of Abadar, Ruquar, to perform the ceremony.  Nota'Cor decided to remain with Castor for his protection, but Grind and Malpais went to see the priest.

The temple of Abadar was a typical Cymru structure, magically shaped stone, but in the center of its great hall it housed a very large gold key.  When Malpais asked to speak with Ruquar another priest took their message and returned sometime later to bring them to the High Priest.

Expecting opulence, Malpais was surprised to find the High Priest's office to be a small, unadorned room with one window looking out over the sea.  He was an old, plainly dressed dwarf sitting at a table stacked with papers.

Immediately, after introductions, Malpais alienated the High Priest attempting to guilt him into performing the ceremony.  He even went so far as to claim the Gracchi's would join a nature-based faith, at which Ruquar scoffed.  Finally, the High Priest told them to leave, and Grind spoke.

Grind is originally from a kingdom of ogres across sea to the west of Tirane.  He left in self-imposed exile when his king surrendered to invading Fey.  The player decided the culture would resemble feudal Japan only with large ogres.  As such, Grind is the calmest and perhaps most cultured member of the group.

He apologized for Malpais' rudeness and began negotiations again.  This time, Ruquar responded well.  He told them he would not perform the ceremony because the the other big dwarven families opposed the wedding and he didn't want violence in Cymru.

When Grind asked what they could do to convince the families, the High Priest told him he had heard from a peredhil called Yavie in the village of Auras (southeast of Cymru) of the existence of silver lyre though to be sacred to Abadar. If they could retrieve the lyre, he would announce the blessing of the god on the couple.  As much as the other families might disapprove, they wouldn't challenge him if the god had spoken. 

Grind agreed they would find the lyre.

Continued on Fragments 1.11

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fragments of the Last War 1.9

Eifer, Tirane, AC 19   

We converted our characters to Fate Core Legends of Anglerre - I'll post them separately later.  The players had participated in two different sessions of Fate Core before - a Deadlands hack and a 1920s pulp - and enjoyed both.

My biggest issues then were managing scene aspects and coming up with compels.  I'm hoping experience and maybe listening to actual plays will help.

The beginning of this session was heavy rp and investigation.

A few days after returning to Darvek, Malpais decided he wanted to find a library and get a sense of the changes in the land over the past decade.  He and Nota'Cor went to the common room of the Iron Mule Inn where they were staying (paid for the by the Gracchi.)  I made them aware of the town's aspect: Saved by Heroes and noted that they had already invoked it for free room and board.

Once in the common room, Nota'Cor decided to intimidate a gnome bard named Finglehorn, currently entertaining the crowd with his drumming.  What I found fascinating before and now about the skills system is in Fate is succeeding at a cost.  Nota'Cor's player failed miserably on the roll, but I offered him a chance to learn from the gnome at a major cost.  He readily agreed. 

With Finglehorn cowered, Nota'Cor and Malpais learned the Gracchis ran the town without any opposition (Gracchi's Velvet Fist), that immigration from around the continent had increased dramatically the past decade,  that Caer Pragni to the north was looking to expand its power, and that the lumber camps to the west of Darvek had been attacked.  A bit of an info dump, but the information they received was specifically related to questions they asked.

The crowd, however, became hostile toward them as result of their intimidation.  I decided that by the end of the session, Darvek would lose the aspect Saved by Heroes. They would use the aspect a few more times, but wouldn't get any more free meals after.  I also took the aspect Once a Sleepy Town and changed it to Growing Pains.  

Crossing town, they made their way to the Factor's (Esteban Gracchi) House.  After a brief conversation, the dwarven guard recognized Mal and Nota'Cor then let them inside the grounds.  The house was a large open home with high ceilings and large windows.  Inside, they met the caretaker Gustav Carbon, who recalled their role in saving the town as well.  He let them used the library and informed them of Gilna Gracchi's pending wedding.  "Such as it is," he told them.  He also informed them that Esteban Gracchi was away looking into the attacks on the lumber camps

The library consisted of five floor to ceiling shelves.  Nota'Cor helped Malpais search the books for any information about Niblus.  After a few hours reading, they found two books by the dwarven historian Babin Jodocus written fifty years before the current campaign year (19 OC.) 

The first book records that the coast which is now Cymru was controlled by the Fahbad elemental-kin kingdom and a Grippli Republic.  When the Horrors appeared, a Grippli named Bartolomeo founded the Order of the Gun using fire-ash and guns he had discovered/created.

Niblus was a Grippli forest city in what is now the Eucalyptus Forests west of Darvek.  To save the city, Bartolomeo drove a wagon filled with barrels of fire-ash into it. Both were destroyed in the explosion.

The second book chronicled the fall of the Grippli Republic fifty years after the battle of Niblus.  Nomadic raiders and minor horrors finally wore out the society.  The al-Fadbad withdrew from the mainland around this time.

After their return, Halen parted ways with the party, heading south to look for more work.  With Thanequeel off to find corpses for another zombie, Malpais and Nota'Cor decided to meet with the Factor Esteban Gracchi when he returned three days later.  They still had rooms at the Iron Mule, but the staff was no longer friendly.

Esteban had heard of their disruption at the inn, but had a recommendation for them by his sister.  Malpais asked about the attacks on the lumber camps.  Esteban noted three of his ten had been slaughtered to the worker in the past few months.  Mal and Nota'Cor offered to look into it, and he hired them.

Buying a new wagon, mules, and supplies, the pair took off toward the camp they'd visited on their first trip to the eucalyptus forests of the Cynwrig Woods.  Even at good traveling speed, the twenty mile trip took the entire day.

Coming to the camp at sundown, they encountered, the hole-riddled and bloated bodies of decaying lumberjacks.  Nota'cor decided based on the injuries to the bodies that the hobgoblin Thig whom they had captured yet lost a decade earlier was to blame.  The character has no ranks in Investigate, rolled anyway and failed miserably.  Since his Trouble is Thinks He's The Best, I offered a compel that he was absolutely certain it was Thig.  The player agreed.  Malpais' player decided Mal would go along with it.

Leaving the camp and traveling the five miles southwest to the Darkwood Lake where they had first met Thig, Malpais used his Danger Sense stunt to spot a hidden pit trap in their path.  Very similar to the one that caught the entire party unaware the first time.   They were able to avoid it and spot the figures in the trees.  Mal shot at three, killing one, and running off the other two.

Another pair attacked Nota'Cor with their bows and he cast a sleep spell, which put the two and himself to sleep.  After capturing the hobgoblins, Mal and Nota'Cor then threated their prisoners.  Mal likes to make a noose while talking.  Here they learned that Thig did lead a group of hobgoblins and that hey had looted the camps, but they did not think of themselves as bandits.  They were followers of an ur-akesh named Nilhoon who had been building a nomadic army/population of orcs and goblinoids.

When one of their prisoners told them that Thig's headquarters was on the island in the Darkwood Lake, a pair of arrows shot from the trees and killed both hobgoblins.  Mal and Nota'Cor gave chase to the attacker - one of the two hobgoblins who'd escaped them earlier, but lost her in the woods.

Night quickly approaching, they buried the corpses and made camp.

Thanequeel's player had decided he wanted a break from being a magic user, so at the conversion he made a new character Grind, who is an ogre, like Halen.  The group decided the ogres came from a continent to the west of Tirane.  We also concluded he had chosen exile rather than submit to the creatures of Arcadia/the Feywild who conquered his homeland.

Grind, spotting the camp, drug a recently killed deer with him, cleaned and began cooking the meat.  Malpais emerged from his tent, eying the ogre warily.  Grind greeting him and noted he wasn't worth fighting.  Once he'd finished cooking breakfast, he offered Malpais some.  At this point, Nota'Cor awoke (breakfast was ready).

Nota'Cor and Grind's players decided the characters had met during Nota'Cor's stay in Cymru ten years earlier and that they had fought in single combat.  Both claimed they were victorious.

Now insulting each other, Grind and Nota'Cor reacquaint.  Malpais convinced Grind that they are hunting bandits and that the leader of the group is a skilled warrior.  Grind agreed to help dispatch the bandits.

Approaching the lakeshore, they found canoes from the hobgoblins and decided to lay an ambush.  Nota'Cor found their trail and led the group into an ambush of their own.  Why they choose to follow Nota'Cor around is beyond me. Through a clever use of intimidation and magic fire they dispatched the bandits and captured Thig.  Once again, Thig talked his way out of being harmed.  This time he convinced the group that their shaman was to blame for all the trouble in the region.

Heading to the island he agreed to convince his eighteen bandits to join him in attach the shaman with the party's help.  He noted they could even free the kobolds.  He arranged for two of his hobgoblins to take Mal to the shaman and her apprentice.

In the center of the island, right in the glade that surrounded the darkwood tree, the kobolds had unearthed a giant wolf head stone statue.  As Mal approached, he saw the pit was over forty feet across and twenty feet down.  The two hobgoblins presented him to the elderly shaman and left.  As she made to cast a spell, Nota'Cor leapt into the pit and slammed into the wolf statue, cracking one of the green crystal eyes.  Grind rushed the pit as well, but none of the hobgoblins were to be seen.

The shaman lit her hand in black fire and launched it at Nota'Cor.  As she did so, Malpais jumped on her robe and distracted her.  Create an Advantage, Athletics, Distraction.  He passed the free invoke to Nota'Cor who used it when his telekinesis blocked the spell with chucks of the broken green crystal.  At this point, Grind came up behind the shamans and crushed both of them.  

The green crystal pieces absorbed the magic, reformed into a solid eye and then sunk back into the wolf statue's socket.  The ground began to rumble and the sides of the excavated pit began to sink to the level of the pit floor.  The kobolds and the party ran for the shore as the island sank inward.  Reaching the canoes, they rowed to shore as the water poured into the sinking island.

By the time they reached the shore, the lake had been drained and the eucalyptus and darkwood trees of the island had been replaced by large holly trees.  The lake water had drained to a pool sitting before the statue; a stream flowed north and uphill out of the pool.  Where the stream flowed, holly trees sprouted.

The party parted ways with the kobolds and returned to Darvek where Esteban Gracchi paid them (even Grind) and sent them with a letter to his father when they decided to return to Cymru.

Great game, filled with roleplay, combat, mystery, and general buffoonery.  

Continued on Fragments 1.10

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Online Fate game and The Secret of Cats

Preparing to run an online Fate game.  The group wanted to set it in the same fantasy-verse of our tabletop game.  Originally, I was thinking of doing an investigation game.  Until I picked up The Secret of Cats.  Instead of adventurers, the players will be cats who defend their charges from monsters and horrors.

Although only fiftyish pages, the supplement is really thorough.  There's a nice section on what it's like to play a sentient animal in a world of oblivious humans.

Like something out of Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft or Neil Gaiman, cats are wise and magical beings who understand far more about the dangers that lurk just beyond the threshold of human perception.

In most game worlds, whether high fantasy or a fairy tale most people can't really protect themselves from extradimentional terrors and things that go bump in the night.  Even if there are people who can, like my adventuring group in Fragments campaign, they don't often care about the regular person. Thus we have our cats who defend their which have been forgotten or ignored by the powers that be.

Game mechanics follow Fate Core - the 4th edition of Fate that came out in 2013.  Aspects are probably the most unique and power part of Fate, and to fit into the setting, aspects in have changed a bit.

Instead of an starring role and two secondary roles in other characters adventures, all cats have a Burden (the human - or big sentient in our case - they protect), a True Name which gives them power and must be guarded and a Free Aspect that can be anything: a history, a connection.

Since each cat gains a true name based on something they have done, it is integral to their history and personality: thus, capable of being compelled.

Skills have been reduced by a few: impossible for cats to drive or shoot guns.  Also magic is only four skills (warding, naming, shaping and seeking), but these cover pretty broad areas.  The sample stunts for skills and magic are pretty good as well being cat focused  I really like Nine Lives, which allows you to spend a Fate point if you are taken out so that you conceded instead.  Also you start with three regular and three magic stunts, which is nice.

The artwork in the book is fun and the cats in the images are both adorable and powerful.  The sample town and adventure are both really nice as guides.  The book has definite homages to T.S. Eliot (a cat has three names.)

I could go for further information on other sentient animals and if they have magic.  The part on antagonists was good, but I'd like more.  All and all it's a great source for use with the Fate Core system.  I look forward to trying it out.