Forum

September 17, 2018 0 comments

Forum Navigation
Please or Register to create posts and topics.

Quest against the Darkmaster (PbP)

[OCC what is the Fellowship's understanding re Hammer's fate/their mission - return for study, return for the Cloud Giant's Forge mission etc., just in case s direct skip to that became important, or chatting up dwarves]

I think you said that the idea about finding the Cloud Giant's Forge was the coolest idea, right? What would be the most fun for you at this point? Learn from Dwarves what to do with hammer? Most likely answer is it has to be shattered on the Anvil of the Cloud Giants?

Gyantwaka will hold up the travelers and look about - silence in a forest usually means something (Perception check - unusual amounts of spores or anything else).  In any event he is inclined to lead everyone around the moss - traipsing over it could damage it.

Exceptional Success: Gyantwaka realizes that this area is not entirely silent. Just below the average range of hearing, there is a slight hum. It kind of reminds Gyantwaka of a bee's drone, but it modulates so that it also reminds Gyantwaka of a song or a tune.

Gyantwaka has the super-rational sense that this "sound" is emitting -- at least in part -- from the moss all around the fellowship. Looking closely at the moss at his feet, Gyantwaka realizes it is no specific lifeform that he can identify. This kind of moss certainly didn't grow in his homeland. He is able to identify most things in this region, though, so it's interesting that there is a type of moss so specific to this localized region.

Quote from Gabe Dybing on July 12, 2021, 12:38 am

[OCC what is the Fellowship's understanding re Hammer's fate/their mission - return for study, return for the Cloud Giant's Forge mission etc., just in case s direct skip to that became important, or chatting up dwarves]

I think you said that the idea about finding the Cloud Giant's Forge was the coolest idea, right? What would be the most fun for you at this point? Learn from Dwarves what to do with hammer? Most likely answer is it has to be shattered on the Anvil of the Cloud Giants?

Yes I like that idea, perhaps we talk to the dwarfs and possibly find that out?

Gyantwaka will hold up the travelers and look about - silence in a forest usually means something (Perception check - unusual amounts of spores or anything else).  In any event he is inclined to lead everyone around the moss - traipsing over it could damage it.

Exceptional Success: Gyantwaka realizes that this area is not entirely silent. Just below the average range of hearing, there is a slight hum. It kind of reminds Gyantwaka of a bee's drone, but it modulates so that it also reminds Gyantwaka of a song or a tune.

Gyantwaka has the super-rational sense that this "sound" is emitting -- at least in part -- from the moss all around the fellowship. Looking closely at the moss at his feet, Gyantwaka realizes it is no specific lifeform that he can identify. This kind of moss certainly didn't grow in his homeland. He is able to identify most things in this region, though, so it's interesting that there is a type of moss so specific to this localized region.

Did the fellowship go onto the moss, per above, Gyantwaka would not be inclined to walk onto an area of moss, or if he did he would be the only one on it, though with his great perception he would be endeavouring to avoid going onto it and would  lead a fairly wide berth around it.

As fascinating as this is, there is a mission to undertake, and he's seen no sign as yet it's a danger/parasite etc. to the forest itself (that would cause him concern).

Did the fellowship go onto the moss, per above, Gyantwaka would not be inclined to walk onto an area of moss, or if he did he would be the only one on it, though with his great perception he would be endeavouring to avoid going onto it and would  lead a fairly wide berth around it.

Of course you didn't step onto the moss! 🙂 This is the thing about Story emulation that just never works in roleplaying games. As here, no PC ever will step onto "perfectly ordinary moss." (This is why I love the GM resources/mechanics: I spend some currency = this is happening because it's cool. I think I'm going to introduce Conan 2d20-style Doom mechanics into my VsD game.)

Sounds good. Gyantwaka leads the fellowship in a wide arc around the most visible marge of the "moss area."

Everyone in the fellowship must make a Level 2 WSR Save Roll.

Oh, this is all Gyantwaka's eco-warrior schtick, if was just Leofred and some dwarf they would have trooped across the sunny mossy meadow (this is what I mean about the staff-bonus rules, cool mechanics encourage players to behave as if in a book, "Of course I'll go alone into the cellar to check out the blown fuse" said no RPG-character ever unless there was a cool mechanic to reward them, in some Fate-based games the GM gets a currency [quantity based on # of players] to improve foe outcomes (e.g., make that save harder) or in other ways tinker scenes  but when spent it converts into the Player's currency to spend on their fates improving outcomes (tinker as in Joe, 'holding out Fate point' it would make sense that that guy who hates your character would show up just now, wouldn't it, Player Joe 'yes it would, taking Fate point).

WSR outcomes, vs level 2 Save which is SR60

All save except if animals included the pony (with all those supplies) saves but Kekek the hawk does not!

  • Do those saving gain some sense of 'what they saved against, avoided, resisted'?

I rolled for animals because if I were GM and player said, "even the animals", response would be "of course the animals".

  • Gyantwaka 120, saves (85+35)
  • Leofred 86, saves (66 +20)
  • Ultran 84, saves (31, well that sucks, his 1 Drive point spent rerolling, outcome 69 +10 drive +15 bonus)
  • Gwenhild 116 saves (96+20)
  • Pony (if animal affected) over 88, success (88 +? we never set out stats, in Keltia it would be +0, same as level 1 Gorcrow though the Pony is level 2 and would have a +10 Fort)
  • Kekek (if animal affected) 28, fails (13+15) - if affected can Ultran use his animal control roll to counter?

If appropriate and not too time consuming, Gyantwaka will be searching his nature lore for what this is, outcome 133 if relevant (63 +70). Natural phenomenon doing their thing is fine (you kill the predator trying to kill you but otherwise leave it be, if you can avoid it you do that and move on) but unnatural creatures which blight nature are not to be left alone.  Part of what his prayer indicated "forest I will protect you if needed" - that is the role of sentient creatures in Leshak cosmology, to protect nature (though if it's a large moss entity not sure what he would do, forest fires are not good though they're also not completely bad - as over-zealous forestry services have learned to their regret).

Ultran would make a S&Tales to see if he has stories about this - UNLESS Kekek is affected in which case he's distraught about his little friend and might not, let's see Assessment roll 111 success (81 +30 skill), doesn't loose his cool, so unless he's spending his effort trying to call Kekek back he makes one.  He's a bit more fire-happy but a long way from summoning waves of fire etc. to burn out moss.

  • If calling back, his Charisma outcome is 120
  • If testing Songs and Tales his outcome is 96

 

[Metacurrencies. Yeah, after my experience with 2d20, I think for my regular VsD game I want to implement Doom Points for the GM. I think the GM should start a session with Doom = to # of PCs. I would use them to justify narrative moments that come with risk to the PCs, but they also could serve as Drive Points for the GM's NPCs. I'm still on the fence about whether I want to go full 2d20 and allow PCs to "buy" a Drive Point (which wouldn't figure into the PC's Heroic Path) by "paying" the GM one Doom, a maximum of one per roll. I can see this latter getting abused: if the players use it too much, and the GM reciprocates, it can get murderous for the PCs.]

Ultran notices that Kekek is acting funny. The hawk droops from its perch, until Ultran is holding the companion in his hands.

Gyantwaka has been thinking about the moss and the strange sound. His answer comes not from what he knows about Nature but from a story. There is a tale in his tribe that is about a perilous wood in which the moss hypnotizes moving things. When the things succumb to the uncanny effect, the moss creeps over their bodies and feeds on the sleeping, insensate flesh.

Gyantwaka looks with new interest at the humps and hillocks of verdant, flowering moss.

Ah, so the poor hawk is 'sedated' but still with Ultran.

Presumably all others shook off some drowsiness or such.

Gyantwaka hurries all away as he ponders.  He relays what he recalls, suspecting the humps and hillocks are the remains of animals that have wandered onto the moss.  Interesting there is no smell of decomposition.

Does his story tell of the fate of this forest or its health overall?  If the story is about a natural phenomenon (hmm, it would need a predator of some sort to keep it in check, give it a place in the cycle of life) then this is an avoided risk but "on we go" just as we would leave a wolf or bear behind us (maybe not a "Red Wolf" from MERP, always found those unclear in their position in cosmology), but if it's an unnatural thing that unchecked kills too many (if it kills all the insects and birds, that eventually will harm the plants too, and in the end there will just be moss but it will have nothing to feed on) then he's concerned that this forest is at risk (which would lead to wanting to find that elf who lives here - yes there's a quest but a forest is important).

[I don't know about the Conan rules. Although so far my characters have been fortunate and not 'truly tested' I think this system is potentially deadly enough without tweaks.  Ultran is currently without Drive for example.  What we seem to be dealing with is more 'character choices' than mechanical rolls.  I've seen two systems' approaches to that.  Fate in which PC's have a "Trouble Aspect" which GM can trigger or Player can offer as in "my character's trouble is "goatlike manners", or "losses and betrayals", so a GM can trigger one and if player accepts "yeah my bad manners come into play here" or "yeah the fact someone I trust betrays me come into play here" and get "a Fate point" OR refuse but have to spend one - GM's can also trigger other aspects to cause mechanical trouble (in Fate that's essentially what a critical wound is, something the GM can trigger once for free to cause something to be harder and can spend their currency to trigger).  Burning Wheel (the other end of complexity from Fate) has its "BITs" Beliefs, Instincts, Traits system, where "Instincts" are programmed responses that you earn "points" for following through on even when not a good idea as in "never turn down a good time", "draw my sword at first sign of trouble".]

RPG Theory time! 😀

I have been playing Conan 2d20 for almost two years now, and, though I’ve been told that some of its metacurrency innovations are similar to other systems, 2d20’s overall synthesis strikes me as solving a lot of “problems” inherent in most traditional rpgs.

In the last few weeks I have been struck with an insight: in 2d20, players are incentivized to make rolls, whereas in other games — almost particularly in VsD and in other d100 games — one should avoid rolling as much as possible, until one absolutely must roll. The reason for this latter is because failure can be disastrous. In 2d20 there can be failure as well, but the “disastrous” form of failure is a Complication merely, not a Critical Failure. Moreover, there is much for the player to gain by a roll. Very high Success results in Momentum that can be spent in the moment for even greater achievements or banked for later use. The near equivalent to this in VsD is Exceptional Success, but this usually translates to one degree of “better” or +10 to one (usually) immediate and relevant subsequent roll, whereas degrees of exceptional success in 2d20 become granular, gamist resources that are never wasted. In my experience, finding narrative justification (if one cares at all) for the use of this metacurrency contributes to organic, improvisational storytelling. In other words, in 2d20, spending (or banking) Momentum and noting Complications results in roleplaying and emergent storytelling, whereas, in many other games, “roll-playing” (using a Pass/Fail mechanic) is deemed a polar opposite to roleplaying.

And Doom. This is another feature of the system that results in a bit of a gambling dynamic. If a player really wants to try something and lacks enough Momentum (or Fortune Points, a kind of “super” player resource), then the player can “pay” the GM Doom for the same effect in Momentum. I know this, too, has corollaries in other games, most obviously, to me, in Jay Little’s other game, FFG Star Wars, which now has been modified into Genesys. But SW is binary (which reflects the dualistic nature of the Force), whereas 2d20 is asymmetrical: players can pay the GM any amount of Doom, there is no end, whereas they themselves max out their Momentum pool at 6 and their personal Fortune Points at 5.

Finally, my point: the GM can use Doom to hurt PCs (who, in Conan, can take a lot of punishment, so there is little reason to use restraint) but most satisfactorily to manipulate events into an exciting story. With Doom, GMs can inflict damage or effects, spring traps, escape precious NPCs, power spells, introduce twists, etc., etc., etc.

I often hear the rejoinder, “But in my [[insert game]] I can do that too.” Agreed. But it requires trust in the GM, and, indulged in too much, it threatens to become a “railroad” or an exercise in the GM’s darling adventure creation.

Take our current exercise. As referee, I rule that your characters have identified a possible Hazard and are successfully avoiding it. No big deal; this satisfies the game of VsD. In some Original or 1e system, this is in fact how the game is supposed to be played: the Referee laughs, congratulates the players, hands out some XP, then rolls on the next random encounter tables. Perhaps what I have just described is one intended play experience of VsD.

But I’m more likely to suppose that VsD is intended to emulate 1980s high fantasy Tolkienian novels, movies, and metal music. In those productions, I would argue, the heroes are less successful at outright avoiding danger — these expressions are less emulative of tactical and procedural war games and more interested in heroic narratives. To find an analogue in Tolkien, what VsD has done here would be the equivalent of the hobbits in the Old Forest recognizing, “Hold on, I’m getting sleepy by this river. Get the Shire out of here!” And they do without further event.

With a Doom currency in VsD, I would do as I did here: Kekek falls asleep in Ultran’s arms. Then I would spend 1 Doom to force one PC to make a WSR at one Level higher. Regardless of that outcome, I would spend another Doom to cause one NPC — either Gwenhild or a mount — to fall asleep without a Save. Finally, I’d spend one more Doom for a character, probably an NPC, to suddenly realize that she or he is standing on some filaments of moss. You see, I’d use the resource to make the encounters more interesting, to better follow the inspirational fictions. I don’t think this is a murder mechanic but more of a complicating one — in the hands of this GM, anyway.

To be clear, if there is a criticism here regarding VsD, it’s that (and it has always been, since the original playtest), for me, it hasn’t gone far enough to ensure emulation of the narrative dynamics of its inspirations. I think it’s a fine game, though I admit that, without the strength of nostalgia, I wouldn’t be here. For a real life tabletop experience using VsD (I’m still only a player in one, but I’m supposed to GM that group at some point), I would try many changes. I also think it would be fun to write a traditional solo adventure for this system, a text like the old Tolkien- Middle-Earth Quest gamebooks or Lone Wolf series. I’m thinking I might give that a try sometime this fall. This system seems to lend itself well to a more structured series of choices with Skill rolls used (sometimes) to resolve situations. Providing heavier structure to available choices is of course another way of achieving the genre emulation that VsD promises.

I think VsD takes the Old School "live and die by the dice" vibe (yup buddy death is death) with a bit taken from newer models ("but I put so much into that character, I didn't know he was wearing a red shirt [if you're a Star Trek fan]") but not too much.  It's actually hard to die from hit point loss unless you have no friends around your or they cannot get to you in a couple of rounds (you would have to be bleeding prodigiously and the rest of group busy fighting) so it's that "unlucky roll by foe" which Drive points can moderate but not completely eliminate.  The awarding of Drive points for playing to passions also reflects newer design.

I think the idea is that in VsD, as it's an old-school GM-write-adventure style, if as a GM you really want PC's to 'choose a particular path' or at least 'prove their passions' you hang drive points on it.  You look at the PC's passions and design the choices around them - sure sometimes it's a freebie as "that's why you go on the quest" but sometimes it's a choice (Gyantwaka here is a forest in peril, what will you do, drive point if you respond to that even though it makes your mission harder, Leofred you could gain advantage in quest if you let the slayer of Glafiner escape [recall he has a motivation about that], or will you sacrifice that to gain a Drive point etc.)  or re the moss, have an innocent person just wandered in first - Leofred's passion about helping those in need comes into play etc.

Don't know if that helps.

Adding,

I think a GM currency to force an outcome like "so and so falls asleep" automatically is heavy handed - even if it's an NPC (I admit one of my worse gaming experiences long ago was a "party-NPC recruited to fill a gap" [like Gwenhild] who became the DM's Trojan horse for directing players where he wanted game to go, we want to parlay with so and so, NPC decides to provoke a fight etc.).  In the Fate-model, it would be at most "I offer you some Player currency to spend if you do that" (this is called a "Decision Compel" in Fate as that it suggests a PC will do X, a character gets point if they agree and pays point to disagree meaning a PC without any Fate points [by default you start a session with 3] is 'at the mercy of the GM', but knows at least if they are compelled they'll have a Fate point to spend dealing with whatever comes up.) and what I like about Fate and Burning Wheel is that in both cases the player chooses/designs the thing that the GM can trigger and in the case of Burning Wheel it can also be a trait/behaviour that is useful at times and only ever a player choice to let it cause a problem.

  • Lest there be a mistake, both Fate and Burning Wheel have problems/downsides.  I've never made a Burning Wheel game work and I was finding my Fate game problematic when COVID suspended it (Fate requires quite a bit of player engagement, someone used to 'tooting along with the the rest of the party and just being a tank or something' is worse then dead weight in a Fate game).

The potential risk of combat even with a lower level opponent (geee Leofred didn't even have brawling as strong trait, he just got lucky with that punch) means that "being willing to fight" should also "be a statement" as any roll of dice can be nasty.  Even an animal using beast criticals can kill you outright on Superficial critical with a 100.  In Burning Wheel the potential nastiness of melee is seen as encouraging creative roleplaying etc.

 

I think we’re on the same page here, and you have provided some great insight regarding Passions, which I have been admittedly lazy about. If you don’t mind, can you provide all of them here for me, in one place, that I will cut-and-paste and have on hand. Then, when more Hazards are rolled, I will use some creative story-building to try to make the situations more compelling to your characters…

🤯 Perhaps this is how awarding Drive is supposed to work! Just as you describe with some of the Fate-based mechanics! The GM provides something meaty but dangerous with which the players may engage. If the PCs engage, +1 Drive. If the GM routinely innovates encounters that align with PC Passions, then too little awarding of Drive is naturally avoided (and ideally a dearth of Drive is the consequence of PC actions or inactions).

Anyway, the fellowship may camp for a night in the Wood. Please roll Wander to find a suitable camp.

As Gyantwaka seeks a place to make camp he is still pondering, is that moss a natural predator or unnatural (giant pitcher plant or something else)

  • Wandering d100 = 25 rolled +45 skill +10 Strider = 80 partial success
  • Though rule question, finding a camp via Wandering is required only when seeking a safe place to camp to rest up/recover etc. (page 154) and not just for travelling normally.  If there is a particular need felt for a "safe place" to camp, Gyantwaka would spend a Drive point.

Passion Summary

In order of Motivation (likely a changeable thing), Nature (least changeable), Allegiance (change is a big deal)

Leofred

  • M - I will avenge the fallen elf messenger Glafiner, who died on 'our watch'.
    • Pursues anything 'cloud assassin' oriented, favours 'blood justice' over any 'strategic disposition' (this was intended to be a 'scenario-specific motivation' like the ones sample characters have and may likely change/evolve)
    • Having the slayer(s) of Glafiner be some recurring foe/agent of the bad guy would also play into this.
  • N- I must help those in need, by protecting against harm or healing the harm they have suffered (rogue mage)
    • That's a generic 'dangle any innocent under attack and the noble knight must respond'
  • A- I will prove my worth to the Evening Star (sworn defender)
    • That's a specific 'dangle any threats to the safety of travelers, be they bandits, wild beasts etc.
    • It would also be 'aid another member of order in trouble'
    • It would also be recover any lost artifacts of the founders, if there is a "lost, secret branch" it must be found/re-introduced/saved etc.

Gyantwaka

  • M - To avenge the violation of sacred places.
    • That was also a scenario specific ones thinking the desecration of barrows might be followed up on, but can also update to a new scenario.
    • Given his attitude/faith this also means dealing with those who despoil forests etc. as they are all sacred (e.g., even the uncertainty about a moss-predator is enough to make him delay a mission)
  • N - Roofs, walls and floors cut us off from the Great Spirits (Strider)
    • Means he likes to sleep outside as when they were in Andorast which could put him at risk or make him seem insulting to a host
    • In a choice of "defend the fort/cabin" or "go out into the wood and pick them off" he's definitely out in the wood.
  • A - My loyalty is to the Great Spirits watching over the Five Tribes (Woad)
    • This is his hunting/herb gathering conservation approach (If I can only find one plant/herb of the needed type, sorry fella I get a Drive point and you don't get your herb, the Great Spirits don't want you healed because I never take the only/last one),
    • His 'prayer to the forest' that pledges aid to it whenever he enters one (at least one that isn't some fey wood with others already presumably sworn to its defence) - this overlaps a bit with the 'avenge' but also means it's not just "reacting to harms" it could be something else - any VsD "spirit" of a natural place can likely ask for his help.

A link to his Hebarium, updated to include a summary of Leshak herb-gathering and hunting practices.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/czatojmn3ub5fl7/Hebarium.png?dl=0

Ultan

  • M - I will prove that without an elf this quest cannot succeed
    • That's his "elf to the fore" approach sure to annoy.
    • His likely to annoy and get him into trouble 'try to be the most helpful member of group' (as opposed to Leofred deferring to Gyantwaka on woodsy stuff and Gyantwaka to Leofred on 'civilized stuff', Ultan will not be deferring to anyone) NB this may also be his "youthful arrogance" that he will unlearn.
  • N - Unable to verbally lie, giving to speaking unpleasant truths (Fey)
    • That's one that would make him unpopular in a real playing group as he earns Drive points by truthfully telling the hostesss what he thinks of her decorations.
    • It's also something he cleverly works around with statements that have double meanings etc., "Your decorations are unlike any I have ever seen".
  • A- I will destroy the transformed (elves transformed into orcs)
    • This is what VsD calls a negative allegiance, making orcs to him something to address the way "someone in need of aid" is for Leofred (hey a bunch of innocents being attacked by orcs who are fresh from cutting down ancient trees and all three PC's are playing to passion by responding)
    • If this is too much "I just want to kill X" it can be revised, it can also be tested if there is a way to undo the transformation.

(Gwenhild none as NPC and though I have ideas about her persona they have not crystalized)