Actual Play – Vacancy in the Underworld (4/4/2010)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Morgan, Martin, Jeff and Gil
System: Agon

This game was killer and reinforced how easy it is to have fun with Agon. I barely did any prep for this game. Essentially, I just one of the quests I had run for my local crew, tweaked it a bit and boom! I had an adventure.

Prove the Glory of your Name

The heroes, Helle (an Amazonian archer), Pelonus (the son of Apollo), Euroches (son of a barbarian warlord and master of the spear) and Miltiades (the god-blood spiller), were all pretty epic as soon as they were created and even more so by the time the game was over.

The plot is simple: Hades wants his cloak back. What the heroes did with that however was pretty killer. The final showdown with Evandros was held in their glorious amphitheatre for all to see. And everything leading to that point was brutal as well.

Some great conflicts:

Scaring the shades of Evandros away with music so the woman in the city could tell them her story.
Duping the priests of Hermes into leading them out of the city.
Fighting the giant statue of the snake god to steal its spear.
Sacrificing the serpent men to Ares to sake his bloodlust.


Props for this game were pretty impromptu. I realized I needed tokens for glory and strife and even though there were lots of cool options out there I ended up going with clay poker chips because a) I had lots of them and b) they stacked.

Character tents though, here pretty cool. I made four hoplite and four Amazon character tents (it’s so much easier to find Greek women with an assortment of weapons than it is to find men). Each one had a picture and a big space to write in name, parent’s name, and the heroic trait. To go along with that I had printed out labels (using Token Tool) that were cut out and stuck to poker chips. This gave each hero a name tent and a token to match (for use in Battle or when I needed to randomly pick on a hero to smite)

What rocked

Communal character creation was fast and fun. Before giving character sheets I just handed the players their character tents where they only had three things to fill in: name, parents name and heroic trait. I meant to give them a list of the heroic traits from the book (you know strong-limbed, etc) but the players just jumped on the idea and we got “Gods-blood spiller, Scorpion and Eye Catcher”. Luckily it was REALLY easy to just convert those to existing traits: Man Killer, Wise Eyed and Far Seeing. The great thing about this was that the personas were already forming before we even touched character sheets.

All of my players embraced the competitive/collaborative nature of the game. They all work toward the same goal but each wanted to be the most glorious doing it. Perfect.

When character or player disputes did come up they are resolved immediately. We probably had about five or six times when at least two players had different ideas about how to proceed and each time we had a quick Name + Orate roll that got the heroes moving again.

The exchange of oaths was awesome. At first, as usual, people are a little leery of spending them but the players quickly figured out they could get oaths anytime they wanted them by helping each other (even if they weren’t that helpful). Pretty soon oaths were flying all over the table. Made me really wish I had made “oath tokens”.

My players were cool. As part of an introduction to the Agon island creation I hinted at the two other quests on the island and indicated that they were part of other stories. I could tell they had a slight inkling to just “do it all” but stayed focused on the quest given to them for this game. In retrospect I probably shouldn’t have introduced the elements as they could have been a much bigger distraction but I was really happy the players rolled with it.

The story of Evandros keeps growing. The first time I ran the game he was just the Undying King. By the end of that game he had stolen the cloak of Charon and upset the natural order by refusing to die. By the end of the con game he had killed his wife in a rage because she could not produce an heir and then in regret traveling to Hades to get her back. He came up short however and returned with the cloak of Charon, giving him the power to create an underworld of his own inside his kingdom. With each incarnation I gave the players more and more reason to just hate this guy, which is exactly what I wanted.

What could have improved

I really wish I had more times to make better props. I felt like this game was thrown together at the last minute (which it was). Next time: Oath Tokens for each hero to give to each other. Maybe I can do that by leaving the labels un-attached and stick them onto different color tokens (I have red, black, green, blue and white) which then become the token that represents the hero. Have work on this some more.

I could see some frustration in the game when some of the heroes were really worn down (wounded and impaired) and others were still doing fine. Some of them needed an interlude while the others wanted to keep going. On the other hand, the same heroes that were worn down and beat up at the end were the ones with the most glory (and therefore the winner). I’ll try in future games if I see a player hanging back from conflicts to start getting them envious of their fellow hero’s glory. Envy is a great motivator; it works on Greeks as well.