Friday, 28 September 2012

Games Night: Joining the Teens

I was able to squeeze in an extra gaming session this week, and decided to join up with Patrick's regular game that he runs with the Teens. One of the Teen's, Teen1 in Patrick's AP reports, is my nephew. In fact some months ago I introduced him and his friends to Patrick when they happened to be at our local games haunt, and as I was the only person who had turned up from the proposed group they joined in with us.

I played for a few weeks, but then couldn't keep up with two regular games nights each week; I've dipped in and out of playing LotFP with Patrick when we were available, and really enjoyed hearing about how they were getting on - or more often getting in to evermore insane situations (usually with some choice dialogue ensuing).

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Games Night: Another Day in Asp

There's been a fair amount of rain in my part of the world over the last few days, which meant that one of the Dogs couldn't make it to continue sorting out the problems of the Hope Mission. Instead, Patrick volunteered to run a one-shot in the town of Asp for mine and David's characters using Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

I continued with two of my three LotFP characters that I used the last time Patrick ran a one-shot, and David had a character he had used previously. So the party was:
  • Charley Shortbread: one-eyed Specialist, Level 2. Comes up with overly complicated plans that get shot down by everyone. He seems to be very much in favour of stabbing first and asking questions later. (me)
  • Chastity Glean: first level Fighter. 19 years old, arms are full sleeves of tattoos and scars, short mohawk on top. Her stats are pretty much in the middle, except for STR 16 which gives her a distinct advantage in melee. 8HP don't hurt either. (me)
  • Aleph: androgynous female Cleric of Namco. Level 4! David created a table during play to interpret the will of Namco (the God of Idle Pursuits).
In total we got about 150XP between us all night. And killed somewhere in the region of 20 men. We rolled high on a lot of early melee - it's easy to forget sometimes just how quickly combat runs. At one point Patrick had to remind us that we had killed six men in the span of about 18 seconds. We had taken a job of investigating a dungeon beneath an abandoned bakery for evidence of a conspiracy against the town.

We seemed to interpret this as: kill everything that moves. Patrick gives the option to describe what happens when we kill someone in combat. This lead to ever-increasing descriptions of gore and mayhem, that started with the first guy that we met in the dungeon. His beheading fountained us in blood, and the red that spilled from his comrades soon meant that we were three comrades at arms, running through the dungeon dripping blood everywhere we went.

Patrick: "7! OK, that's enough to kill him, what happens?"
Me: "I jump and force the blade down and right through his chest, skewering his heart!"
Patrick laughs.

Patrick: "6! He's a goner, what happens?"
Me: "I disembowel him, stabbing in and twisting the blade all the way across to the back his spine!"
Patrick laughs, uneasily.

Patrick: "So he hits you for 1, but simultaneously you hit him for 7, he's dead.....What happens?"
Me: "So, his morningstar glances off my armour... And then I move to slash him, but at the last second flick his morningstar up and it smacks him square in his face. It crushes his nose and embeds all the way back to his brain."
Patrick laughs, then stops. Then shakes his head.

We didn't find anything in terms of treasure - Patrick said it was there, XP all over the place in the form of treasure, but we were too busy running from one encounter to the next. We got eight silver pieces in total.

Namco only knows what will happen when I join him for his game with my nephew tomorrow...

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Dogs in the Vineyard, Session 2

Last week we left things with Sister Basemuth (Patrick), Brother Caleb (David) and Brother Paul (Steve) at the farm; they've tracked down Newton's kidnappers, Cornelius and Nate, but they're too late - Newton has been strangled to death...

...or has he?! The slight trace of breath is in him, and so they perform ceremonies to call him back, to tell him that his time has not come - and it works. They save the boy.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Thinking Ahead

It dawns on me this afternoon that I am halfway through the week to the next games night. Which means that I need to think about expanding my setting notes for Dogs in the Vineyard. Without giving too much away to some of the players (who might read this) it's fair for me to say that while I had the starting conditions for the first few towns in place, I have only the briefest of sketches for others.

I know of connections between some of the towns, and I know of the sins but not the sinners for some more. The only really time intensive thing in terms of prep is the names of everyone, and their stats. I spent an evening earlier this week rolling dice against NPC stat tables again and again to build up a buffer of numbers for play.

(thought: there must be a simple way to mechanise that, an app that just generates a list of disposable NPCs... Select the number of people that you want, click Go and it creates a pdf list of stats)

So maybe that's what I need to do this evening: the valley has seven towns (or does it...???) and I have prep for three. So best be getting on with the other four - not that the players will ever visit them all - and think about the connections and webs of wants and needs. Again, that's a key insight that makes Dogs in the Vineyard work I think: the town creation drives you towards thinking about human relationships. It directs you to think about what people want - crucially, what they want from the Dogs. You're not just building a shooting gallery.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Thursday Tales

Making a few connections with the help of the Tales From Zero Point Oracle...
Jack of Spades: The recycled Death Scream of a world. The cult that worships it.
Three of Diamonds: A renegade librarian guards a vast archive in the station's lower reaches with dangerous traps.
Jack of Clubs: The Engineers Guild prepares an initiation and a geneered woman flees persecution.
Two of Spades: A chitinous, black mercenary arachnid alien, terrifying yet honourable guard for the elite.

The geneered woman has an artificial adaptation that is anathema to the Screamers Cult; she runs, heading for a labyrinth of learning, aided by an alien mercenary. She cannot pay him, but he recognises something kindred in her, something "right". The archive is well-protected, and if they can get past the initiation ceremonies of the Mechanikers they will have to persuade the insane old Archiver to allow them sanctuary...

  • The Screamers are living mosaics and mash-ups: their appearance and speech is taken from images and sounds captured from the Dying World. They wear and speak to honour the world.
  • The Mechanikers' initiations are legendary, both for the wave of innovation that follows a novice's acceptance and for the collateral damage usually inflicted.
  • The Archiver does not like people returning items late. He hates it so much that people now have to prove themselves worthy of being in the archive. Few do.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Dogs in the Vineyard, Session 1

Last night was the first outing for Dogs in the Vineyard in our group, and I was GMing. It was the first time any of us had played it, but I think that despite a couple of head-scratching moments with the mechanics (more on those later) it was a good evening.

We started out with character gen; it took a little while because of thinking about potential with relation to the setting (it's late August, 1851), but after a bit of thinking we arrived at:
  • Patrick, playing Sister Basemath Armstrong, a fearless and funny Dog with a Strong Community background. During her initiation she corresponded with a geologist and was able to satisfy both him and the public that dinosaur bones had been left behind in Noah's Flood.
  • David, playing Brother Caleb Romney (a distant relation perhaps), a Well-Rounded Dog who is able to employ a coldly logical perspective, track people and he's also pretty handy with a gun. During his initiation time he unfortunately failed to capture a criminal, but this has now spurred him on.
  • Steve, playing Brother Paul Usher, a Dog with a Complicated History - not raised in the Faith, but a part of it now. He's rugged, stubborn and has all the traits that you might expect from a western gunslinger. During his initiation he saved a child from a burning building.
After initiations and descriptions of their coats they were given their commission by Brother Emmanuel from the Dog's Temple: go out on a long journey to the southern-most valley where the Faithful live. It's a long time since Dogs have been through that part of the world; give the Stewards letters, help the communities as you see fit and do whatever you have to do to keep the Faith strong in the towns.

We join the Dogs as they come up to a farm outside of the town of King's Bridge.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Dogs and Dice and Decisions

It's Games Night! And tonight I start GMing a game of Dogs In The Vineyard, something which I'm really excited about. It's the first time I've played DitV and also the first time (assuming all goes well) that I'll be GMing something which isn't a oneshot. And we have at least one new player joining our merry band.

I think I have my head wrapped around the dice mechanics and the general principles of "Say yes or roll dice" and "Escalate, escalate, escalate!" Other than that, I'm just interested in playing something a bit different. DitV feels like a breath of fresh air. I thought that setting prep would be difficult, but so far it has been really straightforward. Why? Because they focus on people, what they need, what they want and how far they might go if others (or demons!) push them. And it is so much easier to focus on those fundamentals, the inclinations and breaking points. I have a little map (which I have to redraw to get rid of my notes) and I have notes of circumstances for a few towns and their inhabitants, as well as a paragraph each for those I've not fleshed out yet - I want to see what direction my players take things...

I'll be writing a lot about this over the next few weeks. If I ever finish writing about other dice mechanics I've been interested by I might even get around to thinking about the simple but complex dice of DitV. I can't wait to see it in play.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Thursday Tales

From the Tales From Zero Point Oracle...
Five of Clubs: Uplifted spider-monkey clans worship a pantheon of Echelon-II emulates.
Two of Hearts: A scroll-bearer for a librarians' cult makes a discovery.
Four of Clubs: The League of Docking Bay Families refuses passage to any and all who would attempt ingress.
Ten of Clubs: A HMBT stasis-pod drifts in to Zero Point's gravity well; the occupants awake.

The Echelon-II emulates are machine consciousnesses based on old (but still hyper-advanced) sentient software; the cores available to them in the Eighth Level Arboretum are merely functional at best. They can still think at far faster rates than humans. Or uplifts, like the Spider-monkey Clans that bring them processors, drives and other tech as offerings. The uplifts know that the Echelon-II gods are not divine, but they are technology indistinguishable from magic - and to be obeyed. One day, the gods request a very dangerous offering...

The Scroll-bearer is a junior functionary in the Sophos Cult. They track and worship knowledge - especially precious paper based media. The Scroll-bearer finds information that a lost enemy stasis pod is approaching Zero Point. The Cult has known this for years, and known that the HMBTs inside would surely wake, surge through the station and kill all inside. The Cult suppressed the knowledge because this apocalypse seemed inevitable...

The Docking Bay Families have been ordered to lock off the entire docking bay, and to do everything they can to repel the HMBTs. They are not optimistic. A Salvage-boy wonders if there might be another way when he receives a shortwave radio signal from a nearby habitat area. The sender claims to be a digital deity...

The PCs
A Spider-monkey: The alpha-warrior in the tribe, a faithful servant of the Pantheon. Called on by the "gods" to serve and to aide the Scroll-bearer. A true believer in the power of the Pantheon, he calls the HMBTs "space devils". His best interest is to kill a space devil and thus earn eternal glory.
The Scroll-bearer: Has a digital treasure trove of information about the HMBTs, and knows how to access their equipment. She needs help to get there because the Docking Bay Families have secured most of the passages. Her best interest is to use the information she has to stop the HMBTs.
The Salvage-boy: He knows all of the ways in and out of the docking bay circle, including the unblocked passages. The Echelon-IIs have promised him some truly great tech if he helps them. And what other choice does he have? His best interest is to help the Scroll-bearer and the Spider-monkey. This may be thwarted because others in the Docking Bay Families will see it as their duty to prevent any access, HMBT or otherwise.

The NPCs (lots of them!)
The Sophos Cult: They did the maths in years past that plotted when the stasis pod would return. Zero Point no longer has external defences to divert the pod away. They have gathered knowledge for years, with only a few knowing the true purpose: a faint hope that the apocalypse of the arriving HMBTs can be averted. Their best interests are to keep searching; if they think all hope is lost then they will become maudlin and possibly suicidal.
Spider-monkeys: A long-forgotten experiment gifted these creatures with human-level intelligence. Still slightly primitive even though they know the nature of the world. It is in their best interest to help the Pantheon.
Echelon-II Pantheon: If they can get access to a HMBT computer core they should be able to instantiate into a faster existence. And if they do that they may be able to find a way to defeat the HMBTs. A lot of ifs. It is in their best interests to convince representatives of the spider-monkey clans, the Sophos Cult and the Docking Bay Families to work for them. Their long term goals are unclear...
Docking Bay Families: Normally they deal with arriving ships and provide services. A central Zero Point AI has tasked them to hold the HMBTs at bay at all costs, and to allow access only to war mechs which are several days away (having to navigate through internal corridors and broken travel tubes). It is in their best interests to follow orders, but more fundamentally to stop the HMBTs and gain prestige for their caste.
The HMBTs: That's "Hideous Murdering Bug Things". When they gain access to Zero Point they will start xenoforming everything in sight. They will kill, maim and destroy, and find ways to reproduce. No-one knows quite how their reproductive cycle works - they were always too hostile to study - but they capture, kill and eat a lot of living creatures to do so. Their best interest is to get past the docking bay and into the habitats.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Turn To Stone!

noisms continues to negate the need for me to write any kind of actual play report of Yoon-Suin, by relating all the salient points. Suffice it to say that, as ever, a damn good time was had by all.

Even by me, when I was pecked by an evil magical peacock and turned to stone. Once the ongoing danger had been averted, and the rest of the party were safe, the question arose as to whether or not I could be moved. There is a monastery several days' journey away, and the monks there may be able to revert me back to flesh (or so the party thinks).

But since I am now literally stone, can I be moved? I was already a STR 16 Fighter in full plate mail, carrying about 300gp, a shield a big axe and a miscellany of adventuring gear. But now that my flesh is stone, could I be moved by five people, who already have to carry a man on a stretcher?

Gut instinct says no, but let's do the maths to check...

Monday, 3 September 2012

The Vornheim Question

Just a short post: I mentioned last week that I had a really great games night on Thursday with Patrick, who was DMing LotFP with the Vornheim book for part of the proceedings. In particular I know that the mission/quest for the evening was based around a character and location featured in Zak's book. Thursday was great.

So here's the problem: should I get and read Vornheim, given that I thought the details Patrick used were really cool and I want to see what the rest of the place is like, or as a player in a campaign that I dip my toe into occasionally, am I cheating Patrick - as DM - of the opportunity to run a session, given that I might pick things up that could provide me with "spoilers"?