Thursday, 30 April 2020

Gaming in April 2020

One of the unforseen results of the house move was going without broadband for almost a fortnight.  This put a cramp into my participation with the various on-line campaigns that I'd been taking part in and other, multiplying oportunities for on-line play.

First a look at the on-going games without me...

The Black Hack 2: Melcher's Vale

Bolton on sabatical...
Just as Bolton the Mage had made contact with the Eunuchs' Guild of Mudharbour he had to drop out of the game.

In fact he's been doing some in-depth research into various arcane mysteries at Bo Lee Wang's monkey cabaret and over-indulging on dolphin burgers.

Call of Cthulhu: Forget-Me-Not

Episode 3: The Spider Clinic, which we played on 7 Mar has now hit the airwaves.*  Enjoy!

Two sessions went ahead without me (fortunately, Charlie, my character, has tended to fade into the background all along).  Andy has given me access to the unedited recordings of these sessions.

Our TV crew ('The Supernatural Files') rescued their co-presenter from the hospital where she'd summoned an Elder God, were reunited with their van and  finally made their way back to the abandoned farmhouse where we assume all this began.  And then things started getting weird.  In Andy's immortal words (ones you do not want to hear a CoC Keeper say), "well, that escalated quickly!"

We estimate that there's probably only one session left.

Andy is strict in keeping his sessions to a two-hour max.  These are then edited down to a 70-90 minute episode on the podcast (which is why you don't hear any dice-rolling or consulation of madness tables).

*In fact, Andy has been very busy.  His podcast is running six or seven different actual play campaigns at the moment with various Call of Cthulhu, Traveller and Tales from the Loop going on.

Dark Sun/Dying Star

Stolen from Modiphius - their Barsoom
24 Apr

This is GM'd by Dave Aldrige, who also runs The Black Hack sessions.  Although he's still running TBH, he wanted something with more of a campaign feel.

Dave has written a hack under the OGL of Swords and Wizardry Continual Light with an implied setting of DnD's Dark Sun (with the serial numbers filed-off).  There's a draft for play-test here if you're interested.  Our campaign is very much Dark Sun.

I missed the first session, but I have written up the second here.

I've never played in the Dark Sun setting, so can't say how true Dave is being to it, but suffice to say that I had a blast in this post-apocalyptic fantasy world with a hint of Barsoom.  As a friend of the blog said commenting on Dave's description on his podcast, this is definitely 'planet of the bastards'.

We play using a combo of a Zoom meeting and Dave's discord channel.  This latter allowed for the in-game sharing of artwork - which I always find useful - and maps.  There's also some out-of-game roleplay there, with one of our players writing up the session in the form of her character's (a Thri-keen trader-druid) journal.  This I find really helpful in giving some colour.  Actual roleplay is one of my weaknesses (as you know, my write-ups tend to be 'this happened, we did this, then that happened...') and being able to read someone elses RP interpretation helps me focus my own approach.


28 Apr

Jason Connerley offered a one-off, settling on a 'spooky theme' (the alternative was 'cowboys in space').

It turned out to be an odd one!  Four of us played ourselves, returning from a RPG Con on a dark and stormy night.  Our hire-car broke down by a washed-out bridge.  Fortunately, there was a large house nearby on a hill...

Unsurprisingly, there was a strange butler and a mad scientist.

Jason discusses it here.

Solo Gaming: 4AD

Some may remember that I ran a solo dungeon-crawl last year.  This was done using Old School Essentials and a rather complicated system I'd botched together from a number of sources.  As a result it was a little unwieldy and although I enjoyed it, it collapsed under its own weight.  I therefore looked out for a system that can be run out-of-the box for a quick session, and invested in Four Against Darkness.

4AD is pretty basic, but I thought I'd give it a go.  It's ideal for those times you just want to sit down and roll dice for 45mins or an hour with no prep.  There's a good review here.

Time will tell whether there is much scope for repeat play in the system.  If that proves a problem, there are supplements and modules available for the cost of a couple of pints.  It may even prove an interesting exercise to expand the d6 Encounter and Treasure Tables to d66 ones.  I may write up sessions using the Heybrook setting I created for the previous campaign - it will prove the practice I need in creating a narrative out of dice rolls and hack-and-slash.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Seven Books

Over on Facebook I decided to post seven book covers over seven days.  No explanations, but they've all influenced me.

And I didn't tag anyone to do the same (curses on all chain letters!).

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Dark Sun: The One Where Garrok Went Bonkers at the Oasis and We Got the Girl

Dark Sun.  Session held 24 Apr 2020 (online).  I'll talk more about the system/campaign in my monthly round-up post.

Second session of an on-going campaign.  Edwin joined.  Spencer’s character having been killed, he introduced a new one.  Some players from the previous session were unable to attend.

Game Master

Wandering Mul Druid (Lv.1)

Half-Giant Ranger (Lv.1)

Follower:  Hardy.  Dwarf.

Halfling slave Psionicist (Lv.1)

Thri-Kreen Druid Trader (Lv.1)

Follower.  Kreekit, her nephew.


Ian's map (messed about with)

 Day 3 (Night)

The party was camping at the site of the fight with the giant hornets.

Two hours into the night, they were joined by travellers Garrok and Geo, introductions were made and the newcomers agreed to join the quest.  Some members of the party remained at the camp, recuperating.

Tracks of the renegades were found, leading to the SW, these were followed (leading into Hex 1, sandy wastes).  As we did so, we observed a cloud of dust – a large group of humanoids travelling as speed.  Knowing that this was likely to be a party of elves, and fearing that they might be hostile, we decided to avoid them and diverted to the W (moving into Hex 2, stony barrens).  The elves passed without incident.

We now observed a number of strange structures, which we assumed to be the nests of giant hornets.  Some debate was has as to whether to destroy them or to open one to discover what was inside.  However, we decided that to tamper with one risked awakening all the hornets nearby, and no-one had the appetite for that.  We resumed our pursuit of the escaped slaves.

Day 4 (Day)

(Hex 3, sandy wastes, oasis).  We discovered that the tracks of our quarry had been obliterated by the passing band of elves.  More importantly, we found an oasis, surrounded by mud and fringed on one side by trees.  It was decided that we should rest here during the heat of the day.  Two mekilots were watering at the oasis, so we took up position away from them.

Geo found the trail leading out to the SW.

While the rest of the party were resting, Frip observed a robed Thri-keen come out of the trees and perform some ritual at the water’s edge.  He reported this to Gre’kkt and the rest of the party.  An additional mekilot had turned up.

Day 4 (Night)

As the party were rousing, four mud-covered humanoid figures rose from the mud.  Too late, these were recognised as banshees (undead dwarves, cursed to roam the earth because they had died before completing their focus).  They uttered piercing screams.

Garrok, Hardy and Kreekit entered into a frenzy and rushed into an attack on the banshees, to no effect.  Two of the mekilots fled, but the third also suffered a bout of madness.  Fortunately, the Thri-keen emerged and used his powers to banish the banshees.  Garrok was able to shake off the effect of the cry, but Hardy and Kreekit weren’t.  Frip levitated out of the way and those in their senses retreated to the shelter of the trees as the mekilot charged.

Kreekit made an ineffectual attack on Gre’kkt.  Hardy took his flint spear and made a foolhardy charge on the mekilot.  Although the ex-gladiator managed to find a vulnerable spot and drove his spear into the creature’s skull, it was an uneven contest and he was trampled and killed.  The beast stampeded off.

As his companions retrieved what was left of Hardy’s body, Gre’kkt exchanged formalities and gifts with the druid.  He was able to tell her that the elves we were tracking had been captured by dwarves from the nearby settlement of Kled and gave her directions to get there.  Geo gave an eulogy for his companion.

Gre’kkt and Garrok had both previously been to Kled.  They knew that the dwarves there were employed in excavating the ruins of their lost city of Kemalock and were in constant conflict with a settlement of elves to the north (in part, over rights to this oasis).

Travel (through Hex 4 and Hex 5, both sandy wastes).  We came across a large patch of cacti resembling writhing brains.  Those who knew the wastes advised that these contain worms which, when the plant is cut, come out and attack, entangling their targets.  We moved on.

Entering the rocky badlands (Hex 6), we came to Kled.  On Gre’kkt’s advice, we waited until daybreak before entering the settlement, under the watchful eye of town guards all along.

Our first stop was the market, where Gre’kkt enquired of trader contacts (there were none present) and bought some Esper Weed (which when chewed would grant psionic effects) and a broken short sword (made of some form of metal!).

We then presented ourselves to the headman, Barrunas.  A venerable dwarf, he had founded the settlement over 150 years ago.  Although known to Garrok, he was reserved until he heard that we were intending to trade for his captives.  He drove a hard bargain: his preferred option being a rich reward, he also offered us the option of instead entering the mine and defeating a Sand Golem (and anything else that we might encounter).  After some discussion, we offered him Garrok’s monkey paw (which had the power to curse one’s enemies) and a hefty payment from Gre’kkt’s reserves.  Fripp gave Garrok his animating oil to replace the paw.

Barrunas led us to the captives, warning us that the woman was ‘trouble’.  Frip confirmed that this was indeed our quarry, Aspis, allegedly abducted by renegade elves.

This is where the story began to unravel.  Aspis ordered that her slaves be freed and that we immediately proceed to the elvin stronghold, where she would begin negotiations for the freeing of all her father’s slaves and the other elves held captive in Urik.  This caused some consternation.  Frip hastened to obey, but Gre’kkt pointed out that our employer was her father, who had contracted for the return of his daughter, and certainly not for a slave rebellion. 

Aspis’ haughty attitude decided the matter.  Garrok and Geo bundled her in a cloak, while Gre’kkt administered a paralysing bite.  She was bound and gagged.  While this was happening, the elves affected an escape.  One was killed, but the others fled.  Barrunas demanded that the party leave the settlement. 

The party was now faced with the prospect of the three-day journey back to Urik with a prisoner who may have arcane or psionic powers, and also the chance of being intercepted by an elvin warband.  Nevertheless, it was decided that we needed to camp and rest-up, so in order to be fresh if we did encounter trouble, and to give absent members of the party a chance to rejoin us.

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