Actual Play – Charm City (10/20/2013)

urban shadowsGM: Mark Diaz Truman
Players: Kristin Firth (Ash/Vampire), Sean Nittner (Esther/Immortal), Tim Rodriguez (Tatiana/Oracle), Jonathan White (Meng Xi/Wizard), and Christopher Corbett (Sam/Fae).
System: Urban Shadows (Apocalypse World Hack)

Game Description

The city of Baltimore has many names: Charm City, Mobtown, The City of Firsts. Yet for the supernatural creatures that haunt The City that Bleeds, B’more is a vibrant ecosystem of debt and violence ruled by The Bird: Ravenstown. Everyone who lives here, every vamp, every wolf, every wizard, owes The Bird… no exceptions.

What do you owe him? And what will he demand from you this time?

Urban Shadows is an urban fantasy hack of Apocalypse World in the spirit of the World of Darkness, the Dresden Files, and the Mortal Instruments series.

Five Slots = Five Great Games = Burning Con Wins

I had the lowest priority for this game and was sure I’d be bumped. There was some shuffling of folks, but luckily when all the marbles fell, I was in he game. I was excited to game with Mark because he’s working on Do: Fate of he Flying Temple for Evil Hat and I’m his project manager on the game. I heard about his play-tests and they totally have me excited to play even though the game isn’t written yet.

Urban Shadows

This is a neat looking Apocalypse World hack. Some things that it does nicely:

  • Represent the “powers that be” in the form of factions (Night, Wild, Mortal, Power, etc) and clump character playbooks into those factions (Vampires and Werewolves are Night, Wizards and Immortals are Power, etc).
  • Take the string mechanic and change the power behind it from an emotional tie to a political one. By earning debts, folks are obligated to perform services for each other. This is what I wanted when creating the “Favor” mechanic for Apocalypse Galactica, though in this setting it is even more appropriate.
  • Offer some really classic archetypes with fun powers. I choose an immortal and I really enjoyed the “Been there, Done that” move, which was clearly taking from the Operator’s reputation move, but in the case of the Immortal it felt super appropriate.
  • The corruption mechanic often allows someone to get out of a bind (for instance pay 7-9 cost) by taking corruption and giving in to the power that they wield. We didn’t get to see enough of the corruption mechanic evolve but it eventually opened up new corruption moves (acting like gaining experience) which of course generated more corruption themselves. All to the end of turning your character into a monster. This is what WoD was trying to do… like forever!
  • There were also some high level faction moves. We didn’t see those come into play, but my understanding was that they controlled some of the factions as a whole interactions with each other. I’d be excited to see what they did.

Our game was actually several concurrent stories told onto of each other.

  • Ash’s service to the Raven, and the trials that came up from that.
  • Esther and Meng Xi’s realization of a power grab from the vampire prince Cozlof, trying to wrest control of the city from the Raven.
  • Sam and Tatiana being throw a sharp right curve from their normal day, when a simple drop was interrupted by a pack of werewolves.

Each of these stories played out concurrently with some overlap between the first and third, but enough separation that they painted a mosaic of the developments in Baltimore as a whole, very fitting to the theme of the game. Very Sin City.


Thoughts on the game

At the end of the game Mark asked for Roses and Thorns. First a round of what you liked in the game, and then a round of what you thought could be better, or what you’d like to see more of. This is the exact same format we used evaluating games in Good Omens, and I think it is a really strong format to use when evaluating games. Unfortunately I really just remember two:

Rose: Mark built up beautifully from the PCs contributions. Specifically in the case of Ash being an accountant before he was a vampire…and continued to be after he was a vampire. Ash’s story, and really the story of the game, was that of an accountant just trying to do his job.

Thorn: Because the city is so vast, because the panoply of moving parts was so intricate, I ended up never interacting with three of the four other players in the game. I had a handful of scenes, and every one of them was with the same other PC. It was fun to see where that built, but I wanted interactions with the others.

A very fun note for me. I realized about halfway through the game my character was a lich whose eternal life fed off the wide scale loss of lives only found in horrific massacres or wars. She had been a driving force in every American war since at least WWI.  Ugh, she was terrible.

Oh, and juice box posse for the win!

Actual Play – Lady Blackbird (10/20/2013)

GM: Ajit George
Players: Sean Nittner (Naomi Bishop), Jason Morningstar (Lady Blackbird), Daniel Levine (Kale Arkam), James Stuart (Cyrus Vance), and Kristin Firth (Snargle)
System: Lady Blackbird

Game Description

Lady Blackbird is on the run from an arranged marriage to Count Carlowe. She hired a smuggler skyship, The Owl, to take her from her palace on the Imperial world of Ilysium to the far reaches of the Remnants, so she could be with her once secret lover: the pirate king Uriah Flint.

HOWEVER, just before reaching the halfway point of Haven, The Owl was pursued and captured by the Imperial cruiser Hand of Sorrow, under charges of flying
a false flag.

EVEN NOW, Lady Blackbird, her bodyguard, and the crew of The Owl are detained in the brig, while the Imperial commander runs the smuggler ship’s registry
over the wireless. It’s only a matter of time before they discover the outstanding warrants and learn that The Owl is owned by none other than the infamous outcast, Cyrus Vance.

How will Lady Blackbird and the others escape the Hand of Sorrow? What dangers lie in their path? Will they be able to find the secret lair of the pirate king? if they do, will Uriah Flint accept Lady Blackbird as his bride? By the time they get there, will she want him to?

Walking Tall

Jason, Kristin, and I showed up at Ajit’s full table, expecting we would never get in. Of the players though, three of them were priority four, and we were all three or lower this session so, like that, we ousted 60% of the table. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits about it though, there were lots of great gaming prospects Sunday morning.

Though I had a lot of fun hanging out with James on Friday, this was my first chance to game with him, as well as the first time I met Daniel. Suffice to say we had a table of awesome peeps.

Highlights of the game

Jason pushed really hard as Lady Blackbird and as a player. He’s just so good. He started by giving Naomi (my character) all of these impossible orders… you know like, take out those five guards, but don’t kill any of them! He also pushed as a player, putting his character in danger and constantly complicating her own life and that of those around her.

James played Vance as a pick-your-gender-pronoun killer. He got tangled up with ladies and men, and it always ended in disaster. Why did Captain Hollis want Vance so bad? Yep, it was a lover’s quarrel!

Ajit had some simply brilliant set pieces. The jail in the opening scene was a gumball machine full of spheres, each of them with a single prisoner in them! The final scene was at a royal ball, with a glass floor overlooking an arena battle below!

Reincorporation. Ajit kept bringing back all these ideas that we developed throughout the game. Uriah Flint has the most amazing and spangle covered boots. Goblins were too poor to pass up work and often were no better off that slaves. All these things that we introduced were folded back into the game.

Kale and Naomi had a fling aboard the owl. She told him it meant nothing, but it did. When it was time for them to part ways on Haven it was Kale and Naomi’s affection for each other that kept the group together. In the final showdown Naomi was forced to choose whether she would save the Lady Blackbird or her new love Kale. I scratched that Key of the Guardian right off my right off my sheet and wrote in Key of Love.

The Lady died because of that choice. Which is all kinds of crazy. Count Carlowe ran her through with his sword. Cyrus bested him in battle but then instead of killing him, reached down and teleported himself and Natasha aboard the Owl (which was crashing through the ceiling of the party) to try and save her life. We didn’t fail many rolls in this game (even challenging ones), but Cyrus failed this one… and the Natasha died in his arms. Fuck yeah.

Ajit called for a ton of flashback scenes which was great. We saw Natasha and Naomi before they left, arguing like sisters about whether or not she should marry the count. We saw Naomi booking passage for two passengers, no questions asked. All of these moments built the characters and the world around them. Natasha’s younger brother Tima was staged to marry Carlowe’s sister in what was clearly now a power grab (the Carlowe family wanted to be joined with the Blackbirds and they didn’t care what it took to make it happen).

Jason introduced Naomi’s tantamount role in the of Chezka, Tima’s bodyguard. Naomi had to convince Chezka to help them save Tima from this marriage, but to convince him, she would have to best him in a match of martial prowess…on the dance floor. I got describe the dance as starting off stilted, with each of them trying to act as the lead. But as their struggle continued they became in sync with each other and instead of countering each other’s moves they were exaggerating them and building off of them. Soon the dance escalated to something fierce; a mixture of flamenco dance intensity and martial arts. It led to aerials and finally step, counter step, step, counter step, our arms moving like serpents interlocking, till the dance reached it’s crescendo with an inside turn where Naomi cradled Chezka in her arms. Or so it looked, his right arm was actually twisted behind his back, held fast, but appearing to all as the embrace of dancers, not combatants.

Kristin got the award as best Snargle ever. She was the moral compass, she was the humor, but she was also the confounding creature that gave us all pause, unable to parse the information we had just received. Together with her companions Bargle and Gargle (and oh so many more), Snargle flew the ship to safety and kept us all from killing each other.

The reveals…oh the reveals. “I’m Lady Blackbird of house Blackbird”. Yeah, that one is expected. “I’m Cyrus Twilight of house Twilight” was not. So much fun.

There were a lot of refreshment scenes which was great mechanically because it allowed us to keep refreshing our personal pools, but it was really great for the fiction because we got to see all of our character’s relationships develop.


Thoughts on this game

Ajit had some really strong techniques here, that I’ll be sure to steal when I run the game in the future.

Have Jason it a game. It will be better for it. Or at least more dire.

I’ve played Naomi twice now and loved her. Snargle as well. Time for me to take a Cyrus or Natasha. See how holding the reins, instead of bucking them, feels again.

Actual Play – Dremmer’s Birthday (10/19/2013)

MC: Vincent Baker
Players: Matt Weber (Frost Gazelle), Sean Nittner (Cybelle), Donny Van Zandt (Hooch), and Dustin Hodge (Frog)
System: Apocalypse World

Game Description

Of course it’s not Dremmer’s actual birthday. Who gives a crap about birthdays in Apocalypse World anyway. But nevertheless, frickin Dremmer’s gotten his hands on something big and now he thinks he’s the birthday boy. He thinks he can own you. He thinks he can give you the spankings and demand your toys as presents. The kick in the head is that he’s absolutely right.

Priority 2

I didn’t think I’d make it in the game. In fact I was the only priority two player there. Everyone else was one. Let’s make some sense of this. At Burning Con games are filled based on a priority basis. Everyone goes and sits down at the table they want to play at, but if the game is full and you have a higher priority in that slot than someone sitting there, you can bump them. It means you never know what you’ll be in for sure, but it also means no sign ups and that first-come is only first-served in one slot for each person attending.

Anyway, I was quite pleased I made it through the culling process!


Vincent didn’t do character creation as I’ve normally seen it.

He started drawing this map, but we totally couldn’t make any sense of it. And as we’re all looking at him doing it, Vincent laughs. “I love that I’m drawing this map, but it doesn’t make any sense at all”. And indeed, we could tell what it was.

He said “Okay, I need one of you to play a chopper. He’s the leader of a biker gang. You’ve got a gang and you’ve got bikes, you’re pretty bad ass.” Donny grabbed the playbook and Vincent held out a few more that were available for this game. That’s all standard enough, but then he just started play. We hardly had names and he was describing the scene. Hooch (Donny’s Chopper, that he picked a name for when prompted) was tied up in this emptied out cistern being beaten to hell by Fucking Dremmer. With him was Putrid, one of his gang, who apparently had turned on him.

Outside he said our characters were walking up… and that’s when we figured out who we were. We picked stats as needed, described out look as needed, and then when it came up, established Hx as needed, all as a result of needed to engage the mechanics and not before.

Our lot

Hooch (Chopper) – Our leader. A tough man covered in scars and bondage leathers.

Frost Gazelle (Skinner) – A gorgeous woman who wanted a nice place in the wastelands. She controlled everyone with her beauty.

Frog  (Faceless) – A man that just wanted to know his place in life, to be useful, and not to be lied to.

Cybele (Brainer) – A talk lanky figure covered in arctic snow gear. Cybele wanted peoples brains to work right, and when they didn’t, she made them stop.

Some things Vincent did

The adventure was a blast. We kicked Dremmer’s ass and sort-of took his power. It was good times, but rather than map out the details I mostly want to focus on Vincnet’s MCing techniques

1. Start with some fuckery. Vincent just teased us for a few minutes drawing this little map and laughing that we had no fucking idea what he was doing. He wasn’t being a jerk, but he was definitely fucking with us… and getting our attention.

2. Do everything in media res. Everything from picking characters and stats to introducing moves was explained or brought into play at the table as it became relevant in play. Even though three of the four players were very familiar with Apoc World, I noticed that we all spent more time looking at each other and at the tiny map that at our playbooks.

3. He left out what he didn’t need. “I don’t understand these Hx choices. Who wrote that shit? It doesn’t make any sense.” First, I’m glad to see that even Mr. Baker realizes that the on your turn / on everyone else’s turn instructions for establishing Hx is confusing as fuck, but more importantly, he wasn’t wasting time on little shit that wasn’t central to the action. Hx mattered, but it mattered in play, not for what happened before play started.

4. Only using Hx when needed. We never rolled Hx to aid unless someone had a 6 or a 9 on a roll. So we were posed with the question of do you want to help and expose yourself to danger after we already knew that our friend was in danger themselves.

5. Ending a session. Three times! This was the big one, and I think made the biggest difference. After just as each beat was reaching it crescendo, or shortly after, but before we resolved the fallout of the action,  Vincent called for “end of session”. It wasn’t the end of the game, but it encapsulated what had just happened, prepped us to move forward in the fiction, and engaged the endgame Hx advancement mechanics.

6. Creating permanency in the world. When I opened my brain and described the  Psychic Maelstrom as “An arctic tundra, impossible to see very far in because of the storm that rages constantly” that’s how it stayed for the rest of the game.  I may have been partial because I described it but I love that we created some consistency in the game, instead of it just being a different place for everyone that goes there.

7. Hanging a lampshade on inconsistency. At one point we had Dremmer beat. He gave and offered us anything we wanted. As soon as he had an opportunity though, he was going to take it. And instead of us wondering what they hell was going on, Vincent just called it out. “Fucking Dremmer man, a minute ago he was totally yours, but man the moment he has an opportunity to fuck you over, you can already see the gears turning.” It was great, because we didn’t wonder if we had missed something as players, he made it clear that yeah, we beat him, he just a weaselly son of a bitch with a backup plan. This made slitting his throat much simpler.

2013-10-19 20.09.20

Thoughts on this game

I know I talked a lot about how Vincent MC’d the game, which was very cool an all, but there was a lot of other cool stuff happening at the table.

Frog and Frost Gazelle started off with something cool. Clearly Frog wanted her, but he didn’t think he had a chance. She played with him, like pretty play with others attracted to them, and at first it worked. Eventually though, he just didn’t want the bullshit. He was still fond of her, but he knew she was lying to him. I would have loved to see how that panned out over a few sessions.

At some point I was with Hooch and said “remember the time we were fucking and…” I’m not really sure what the and was now, but it totally spun the direction our relationship was going in a different direction. I think Cybele became something of Hooch’s confidant after that. I also loved that Donny, who hadn’t played AW before, totally just rolled with it.

When Vincent asked if we were in Hooch’s gang, we all jumped on it. Hell yeah, we were. I loved that nobody pulled the “I’m a loner playing my own game” bullshit. I fucking hate that shit. It was great to see everyone inwardly focused on the PCs instead of on their moves or other NPCs. Putrid did get pulled in as a central figure (we wanted to help her) but she never pulled us away from interacting with each other. Yay for PCs interested in other PCs!

Actual Play – Take the Power Back (10/19/2013)

burning empiresGM: Jonathan White
Players: Sean Nittner, Bret Gillian, Dwight Frohaug, and Colin Booth.
System: Burning Empires
Planet: Gundalas Vert

Game Description

The worm owns the planet, and a last vestige of freedom fighters posing as Vaylen have a plan to take it back—or destroy it trying. The roles are switched in this endgame conflict. Gundalas Vert is a garden planet controlled by the Vaylen and their hold is strong. You thought you’d found the weakness in their defenses but new intelligence has revealed they’ve been on to you this whole time, playing with you as a child would a toy. Can you find the strength inside yourself to pull off the plan despite the odds or will you flee the planet to save your own ass? Maybe you’ll end up just another victim of the worm, strapped down to an operating table, waiting to be hulled. May Ahmilak guide you to your destiny.

Answer to most of these questions was:


Before the game

On the subway into Burning Con John Stavropoulos, Kristin Firth, Rachel Walton, Jeremiah Frye, and I all talked about our proposed gaming schedule for the day. It doesn’t make much sense to plan too far ahead for burning con since priority and butt-in-seats determines who gets in what. Also, it was nice to riff off my fellow con-goers and hear their thoughts on the offerings.  After some discussion it was clear, hands down the game to play was Jonathan White’s Burning Empires game.

Character Creation/Completion

The dudes and I sat down, Jonathan read the scenario introduction to catch us up to speed and then we picked characters and finished them off.  Xavon, our noble leader. Willem, his loyal cousin. Vynss, a noble who had fallen into crime, and Ro, the infiltrator.  I dig characters with messed up lives, so I nabbed Vynss Undrago (Born to rule -> Hostage -> Criminal).

Beliefs. Jonathan had our first belief written, our 2nd had two choices, and our 3rd was up to us to fill in with some guidance. Vynss looked like this:

  • Xavon is leading us to our deaths; I will wrest leadership from him to see us survive this debacle.
  • That worm Villiback took my family; I will find them in his house and bring them home with us for treatment.
  • We’ve been discovered. I’ll find out who knows our identity and silence them.
  • I will never hurt my family. (The Family trait belief)

As per the discussion over on G+, I think these beliefs (and those of the others of course) created a compelling drama between our characters, but ultimately led to our downfall. We should have been trusting each other instead of in-fighting. That division is what gave the Vaylen what they needed to destroy us.

Highlights of Maneuver One

After ascertaining that Vaylen couldn’t help but gloat about toying with humans (thank you Alien Cultures-wise) Ro, Willem, and Vynss broke into a secure garden estate to ease drop on two of the Vaylen FoNs… and failed the final infiltration roll. Result: They knew we were watching, played dumb, and fed us a story full of lies to trap us further.

Ro, trying to discover some lost high index terraforming technology failed a circles roll, and was asked to come to an unknown island on the planet for security clearance.

Trapped alone by his “friend” Coshi, Vynss was offered to swap bodies and to have one of coshi’s children. When he refused, Coshi persisted, and an epic duel of wits began. Coshi sought to reveal Vynss (even though the character didn’t actually know he was human) and Vynss tried to convince him to share the ceremony in private, aboard their hammer (where he would corner him and stab him in the face). I was outmatched for sure, but the dice were generally going in my favor until one fateful turn. Point (Vynss) vs. Obfuscate (Coshi). I had six success. Jonathan rolled four with one six. He spent fate to open it up and got THREE MORE. I had two sixes, opened them up and got nothing. If I had won the DoW would have been over and I’d have Coshi on the ship. Instead… I lost horrible and escalated to violence!

Xavon, seeing his command disintegrate before him, took his Hammer into orbit, abandoning his brothers in arms, who, in his mind, had already abandoned him!

Willem was trapped in a room with Villeback, who planned to corner him and stab him in the face.

Ro was trapped in a room to await some unknown horror.

Highlights of Maneuver Two

First off the awesome thing was that we burned through our scenes, rewarded Artha and even had a maneuver two!

In a short but brutal fight Willem put a few blasts from his jack laser rifle into Villebacks shell. Moments later we saw Villeback pulled from his human body

Vynss captured Coshi and dragged him onto his Grav-Sled, with the intent of using him as a hostage, but Villeback had taken Vynss’s family hostage displayed on every view screen on the planet, a ruse of their upcoming execution. Vynss fell right for the trap and pushed it full throttle to his family (or where he thought they were).

Untrained for artillery fire, Xavon took his Hammer (by himself) out of orbit and opened fired on the two cruisers that were guarding the disc above.  Destroying them both in a fiery hail of fusion cannon disruption!

In the end, our mission was doomed, may the prophet guide our souls.

BurningCon 115

Thoughts on this Game

We had a really intersting discussion about my second belief “That worm Villiback took my family; I will find them in his house and bring them home with us for treatment.” If it’s known that the Vaylen can’t be “cured” then would people still believe it’s possible? Would they still try? Would they still try? What if it was family? Would other respect them as hopeful or condemn them as naive?

Our characters were doomed to fail. There’s a good question here of should we just have abandoned our beliefs (and maybe gone for Moldbreaker) to try and win or play them through and know that our character’s personal victories (or losses in this case) would come at the expense of humanity?

I really liked that we got two maneuvers in a session. It definitely showed the progression of the game in a way that would be much less fulfilling than a single maneuver.

That point vs. obfuscate destroyed me. I yelled “Nooooooooo” like Kirk/Spock wailing “Khaaaaaaaan”. That was the moment of defeat for me. After that it was just telling my Black 2 Aftermath.

Bret put up a great discussion of the game as well on G+

Actual Play – Burning Under The House (10/19/2013)

torchbearer-rpgGM: Sean Nittner
Players: Shane King (Gerald), Hayes Edgeworth (Beren), Brendan Conway (Varg), Mike Sergio (Ulrik), Matt Webber (Taika), and Miguel Zapico (Karolina)
System: Torchbearer
Dungeon: Under the House of the Three Squires

They did it! No town phase (or even a camp phase), but damn, this crew tore up the House. I’m getting ahead of myself, though, more details in the turn by turn synopsis below.

Game Description

This is a wild and dangerous land, filled with forbidding forests and savage monsters. Along the lonely roads that bind civilization together can be found wayhouses—fortified inns where travelers may rest behind stout walls and have a hot meal before venturing forth once more into the unknown.

The House of Three Squires is such a wayhouse. Situated on a lonely stretch of the Post Road, it’s an easy day’s travel from the nearest town. Something is amiss at this humble wayhouse. The stockade gate stands open and unattended, occasionally slamming home with a great thud when the wind catches it just right. The house itself is deserted.


I came with a modicum of props in hand

  • Pre-generated Character Sheets (from the latest download version of the game)
  • A set of dice for each character.
  • Table Tents printing on cardstock, with each characters’ picture, name, and traits on it.
  • Custom Fate and Persona tokens made with token tool, printed on label paper, affixed to 1″ washers, and then lacquered for a smooth finish.
  • Weapon Cards (from the Kickstarter preview)
  • Cash Dice coins (though not nearly enough) for Cash Dice.
  • Heavy poker chips for Disposition (red) and Checks (black).
  • Conflict Sheets, Turn Sheets, pencils, sharpies, the adventure and the like.

What I was missing, but was provided by the kindness of others

  • Scripting cards (lent by Luke)
  • Condition cards (lent by Luke)
  • Torch light tokens (lent by Miguel)

The players gobbled up the PCs pretty quickly. Nobody seemed disheartened by their choice and were quickly getting into their characters. I did my normal intro to Torchbearer, describing the game as one of survival and exploration rather than conquest and heroism, which they all seemed to dig (most of them were already familiar with it). We went over the basic dice mechanics (die pools, obstacles, and success/traitors) and then started play.


After the intro, everyone picked a goal.  Unsurprisingly Beren’s was all about looting the place for all it’s worth, but Ulrik really surprised me “I’ll bring back an offering for my gods”.  I liked it, and I liked even more that it happened!

Turn by Turn

(Not including light source creating and ration/water consumption)

Turn 1 – Karolina, as a hunter thought she might have recognized the musk they smelled, and then when Taika found the scales on the ground, the were even more curious to identify them (Hunter Ob 2. Result: Success). Kobolds afoot!

Turn 2 – Wary of Kobold treachery, they checked for traps on the stairs and found the backs had been sawed through! (Scout Ob 2. Result: Success).

The party briefly deliberated two options. One was to walk one person at a time down the stairs. The other was to collapse the stairs with a few whacks of the sword and then have Taika levitate the party down together safely. After some discussion I turned to the Leader who elected for the magical solution. A few whacks of the sword and the stairs collapsed (see thoughts below).

Spell – Taika cast Lightness of Being (Arcanist Ob 3. Result: Success) and safely lowered the party into the cellar below, now filled with TWO piles of detritus.

Turn 3 – Beren and others, hearing the whining noise, pulled the pile apart (Laborer Ob 1. Result: Success] and revealed the door behind. Opening it a feisty Pomeranian burst out and while happy to be free, growled at the interlopers. The dog was thrown some rations to keep it busy, but otherwise ignored.

Turn 4 – Having found the famed Sour Beer, the adventurers looked for any secrets the wine cellar might hold (Scout Ob 3. Result: Fail. Twist: Net trap) And they found them! A cast that rolled out of the way, and a net trapbut trapped Beren, Gerald, and Taika below, blowing out Gerald’s candle and leaving Taika struggling not to burn herself with her own torch (see thoughts below). [Applied Hungry and Thirsty to everyone].

Turn 5 – With the aid of their un-trapped companions Ulrik and Karolina, the net was removed. [Laborer Ob 2. Result: Success]. After removing it they opened the hidden door and found Ronwald’s treasure below.  Many drank from their wine skins

Turn 6 – Sparing no concern about the rightful owner, Ulrik dove right into first checking for traps and then picking the lock on Ronwald’s chest. (Criminal Ob 2. Result: Fail. Condition: Angry for Ulrik (his lock pick got bent) and Hungry and Thirsty for Gerald (is it 2nd breakfast time already?) but the chest was open!) When they found coin inside, bickering over who would “hold” the treasure started up. After some discussion that started Beren saying he would hold at least one share and other arguing that the only way he could do that was to hold them in a sack in one of his hands, Karolina (the leader) decided how the treasure would be split up (see thoughts below).

Turn 7 – Satisfied with their spoils, the adventurers ventured into the larder where the smell of Kobold was strong and wails could be heard further on. They ventured through the larder into the limestone cavern and when the path split, listened to the echoing wails to determine where they can from. [Dungeoneer Ob 3. Result: Success].

Turn 8 – Walking toward the noise, Gerald accidentally tripped the Kobold’s tripwire alarm, setting off a terrible clangor of metal and bone. Not wanting to reveal the entire parties presence, Gerald moved forward on his own. He could speak with the Kobolds, and hoped to convince them that he was alone and not a threat. They had already rallied the reinforcements however, so he was dealing with twelve angry (and hungry) Kobolds. Seeing him alone however, they invited him to sit by their fire… with every intent of roasting him over it. They got to talking about smells (things of interest to Kobolds) and Lizard Funk mentioned that he had a human sock he wore that was the smelliest sock anyone had ever smelled. Gerald parlayed the discussion into a song to distract them [Making Merry versus Kobold Nature. Result: Success].  The Kobolds put away their weapons and started up a round of the Sock Song, where each of them put their foot in the sock and then smelled it. [Applied Hungry and Thirsty to everyone].

Turn 9 – Unconvinced that Gerald could actually make peace with the Kobolds, Karolina instruction Taika to lead the group in surrounding the kobolds to ambush them. Some of them had already gone back to the room to the north (bored of the sock song) and others were very distracted. But even with that it is tough to sneak up on such a large group. [Scout versus Nature. Result: Fail. Twist: A few kobolds noticed and took up arms to fight!]

Turn 10 – Conflict! Seeing the chance to grab kobolds before they all were armed, Karloina led her fellow adventurers in a fight to capture the gaggle of Kobolds! The fight wa as a brutal one, full of shield bashes, stone throwing, and even some impaling. [Result: Win with a Compromise]. Beren was Injured during the fight, and after Varg and Taika were Afraid that more Kobolds to the north had heard them and would descend shorty. During the fight, Varg cast his Wizard’s Aegis spell from his spell book to better defend the group!

Good Idea – Having the Kobolds subdued, they cut up two lengths of rope to make bonds for them and timed them all up. Them marched them north toward the wailing and shouting.

Spell – It was time for some diplomacy! Varg cast Wisdom of the Sages [Arcanist Ob 2. Result: Success] to speak the tongue of Kobolds. Coming around the corner he found the court behing held with Saw Back and Crooked Tooth.

Spell – After a bit of discussion, Varg ensorceled Saw Back with yet another spell from his spell book, Threads of Friendship. [Arcanist versus Nature test. Result: Success. Margin of Success: 4]. Saw Back saw the cap on Varg’s head, and decided that like the scull headdress that he wore, a cap was a sign of wisdom, and that Varg should be respected and honored.

Turn 11 – During all of this Taika surrendedred her weapon so the Kobolds would let her tend to the wounded (and footless) Joreg. [Healer test Ob 3. Result: Fail] Joreg’s life blood drained out before her eyes, despite every effort she made to save him. In his dying breath he told her of his daughter Elsa, and how she was till lost in the cave.

Turn 12 – Moving things in their favor, Varg and Gerald began negotiating in earnest. The trade of their hostages (9 kobolds) for the hostages that the Kobolds took (all the humans still alive). The Kobold’s resisted, they needed the humans (even though they weren’t 100% what they were going to do with them), but Saw Back’s aid helped Varg win over Crooked Tooth (Persuader versus Nature. Result: Success]. They traded hostages and agreed to come back later to discuss another deal where the adventurers could (for a fee) tackle the Kobold’s other problem!


Thoughts on the game

I should remember that just because a test isn’t listed in the adventure, if someone tries to do something, and it poses a challenge. A test should be made. In the case of collapsing the stairs, I wanted to reward the players for making the scout test and figuring out that they couldn’t walk down the stairs safely (at least not all together), but cutting them apart involved some effort and work. I should have called for a Laborer test (probably Ob 2) to break it apart.

I should be more bold about extinguishing light. Taika had a torch and Gerald a candle when the got trapped. I put out one but not the other. I think, in retrospect trapping them in darkness.

When the net trap fell, I don’t see a Heath test written on my turn tracker to indicate they tried to leap out of the way. I can’t remember if I forgot to give them that option, or if they elected to just let the net fall on them.

I really thing using actual physical coins when giving out cash dice makes a huge difference in how players relate to treasure. I loved it.

The last roll should have been a convince (or convince crowd) conflict instead of a persuader test but we were running out of time. I’m convinced that even it it had, with Saw Back on their side, and a gaggle of hostages, the adventurers would have swept the conflict anyway.

After the game Miguel and I had lunch and talked about it. We riffed a bit on which props served the game best. Not enough and it’s hard to keep track of all the states (light, conditions, turns, weapons wielded), too many and the table is cluttered with them.

Hilariously, when they found the Kobold strapped to a table on trial, Ulrik whispered to Varg “That is my offering” and part of their negotiations involved getting that one as well, who thought he was being freed. Kind of awesome and awful all at once.

Kobold names I’ve been using, that I think I’ll keep: Lizard Funk, Soft Shoe (maybe should be Soft Heel), Broken Egg, and Boiled Egg. Lizard funk, and his game session agnostic smelly socks has caused me much amusement.

I tried a Pomeranian this time and got really ambivalent responses. Nobody wanted to interact with it.  That’s a first. I really do thin the breed has a huge effect on people’s responses, though it hasn’t been as simple as big dog = hunting companion and small dog = creature to protect. More research forthcoming.