The Glasymer Wyrmling is a new take on our “traditional” view of dragons. Why are dragons so angry all the time? Why are they so mean to everyone? Fox news? Liberal bloggers? The NSA? I don’t know, but I am sick of the slander! So let me paint you different picture of dragons…
Your ancient mother, the great Wyrm Glasymer, slumbers deep beneath the waves. Millennia pass while she sleeps. But you and your siblings grow restless. You wake from your sleep every few years to once again see that mother is still sleeping (no surprise there). Are you angry? No! Why would you be angry?! You have everything you ever wanted!
But you are growing a bit bored. So, you sneak out of the lair, through deep, winding, undersea caves. You chase some fish; you play with a whale; and eventually make your way to the water’s surface near the land. That’s when you see some living things moving down the coast. Yay! Something to play with! So you burst from the water, spread your wings, and take to the air. You land a bit off from the things (I think mother called them “people”?).
They are so active and lively! You nudge them. You paw at them. You roll a rock over their way. They move, and make noises, and dodge all around. And everyone is having fun! This is wonderful! And look, a few more of your siblings came with! You wrestle around with your brothers and sisters a bit, and even with the people-things. They are so fun! You smile wide with a big toothy grin and roll around, having a ton of fun. The last time you had this much fun you were playing with all those octopus-things.
You grab one of the people-things in your mouth to toss him into the air so he can glide back down on his wings; that is always fun. But why isn’t he spreading his wings? Ouch! He just let himself fall to the dirt. That’s weird. Another one of your brothers is playing with one of the people-things, but he is covered in lots of red stuff all of a sudden. Is it like when those octopus-things covered him in black stuff?
Wait, why are the people-things leaving? Maybe it’s just a game? You take to the sky and land in their path. You win! Wow, they are really surprised all of a sudden. Look at that, the people-things have shiny, pointy, claws. But only one per limb… that’s strange. So you show them yours. You have 7 shiny claws on each hand. Claws are fun!
Ouch! The people things are trying to hurt you with their silly claws. They don’t want to play anymore. All you wanted to do is play, and now they are being so mean. Well, if they are going to be that way, you can be mean too…
I invented the Glasymer Wyrmlings in my last session. I felt like a lot of the encounters recently were giving off a similar vibe. They all felt mean and dark. It was always against some pissed of creature, or at the very least, a creature just acting on mindless instinct. It was always at night, or in claustrophobic cavern, or within a crumbling dungeon. So I decided to switch things up.
These things legitimately have no ill-intentions. In fact, they have the best of intentions. Even from the onset of the encounter, the players knew these things just wanted to play with them. I sort of played them like giant playful puppies. But just imagine what would happen if you were playing with four puppies that were the size of conversion vans and have foot long rending claws and razor sharp teeth.
I also played the encounter on a bright sunny day, with a beautiful view of the ocean, as everyone was just starting the day’s journey. No dank dungeons here.
Happy creatures on a pleasant day.
It was refreshing to have an encounter that felt totally new. And that is what we should be striving for as GMs. “Portray a fantastic world” does not just mean evil everywhere. It doesn’t just mean danger at every turn. Fun, fantastical, playful things exist too. And they can most certainly make for an amazing encounter. I encourage you to give it a try.
This weekend saw our first death in our Underwatch campaign. The group made it to the lair of the Lantern Goblin horde that has taken up residence in the city’s ancient sewer network. What they faced was a small horde worshiping a giant glowing crystal suspended in the air (The Source of the Goblin’s Light!?!). Lasbador the Wizard quickly launched a fireball into the crowd and maximized the damage. That is a whole lot of Goblin death. Funny thing about Latern Goblins is that when they die their “light” travels to another one of their horde to make them stronger. This resulted in a huge amount of Lights flowing around the room and empowering the remaining dozen goblins. One of these goblins was special.
He stood head and shoulders above the rest and had a powerful build. In his filthy hands was a huge double bladed axe ablaze with green flames. He let loose a terrible war cry and charged the party with his retinue of vile companions.
Our Fighter, Aubrey, charged right back. She was determined to smash into the enemy line and give the other heroes time to destroy the crystal. Dash the bard was right next to her side but that is beside the point. The story today is all about Aubrey.
The two sides met in the middle of the chamber. Aubrey and Dash being surround by the Goblins while our Druid and Wizard were going around to break/dismantle/disenchant the big glowy crystal in the center of the room.
Aubrey charged through the crowd to meet the Goblin Warlord (this title sounds appropriately bad ass doesn’t it?) in combat. She described how she would slide along the ground (not hard since she is a Halfling) and swing for the legs with Sally, her Messy, Forceful, Piercing Signature Weapon.
I can hear the epic film score chugging along in my head. I’m ready for the slow-motion sequence of Aubrey cutting the legs right off the Goblin Warlord. I’m ready for it! ROLL Hack & Slash!
::shooka shooka go the dice:: Aubrey gets a 6. A Miss.
That big Axe with the green flames? The one the Goblin Warlord has? It has Messy too. The Goblin leaps in the air right over Aubrey’s leg sweep. He comes crashing down and the axe chops right through Aubrey’s arm, taking it off at the elbow. Aubrey is on the ground and wracked with pain. The Goblin screams triumphantly and raises his axe to finish her off.
Dash tries desperately to reach Aubrey and parry the blow. Sounded like a Defend to me. He rolls a 5. Miss. The other goblins swarm him and hold him back.
At this point I thought to myself, “Is that it? Is Aubrey dead? Did that arm come off and now the Goblin finishes the job? Or did the shock of the wound really have time to set in yet? Is there time for the bravest Halfling that every graced the City Watch to get in one last swing? She is THE Fighter. She’s got time for one last swing of her axe. Aubrey is THE Fighter. I’m a fan of the characters after all. Fighter’s go down swinging.
I look to Aubrey’s player and describe the Goblin’s axe coming down on her. ”What do you do?” I ask. She described how she is going to drag her axe along the groung and bring it up in a brilliant upward arc toward the Goblins face. Awesome. Roll Hack & Slash.
She rolls. She gets a 9. They are both taking Damage. What results is a simultaneous double-kill right out of a movie. Both of the weapons strike true and do enough damage to end the life of the other in the most gruesome manner possible. The Goblin’s axe bites into Aubrey at the waist. Aubrey’s blow cuts straight through the Warlords arm and buries itself in the foul creature’s face.
During this chaos, the big crystal is pushed over and takes a tumble down the pit (why do the bad guys always place their McGuffins in such precarious places?). Druid’s in Bear form make short work of pushing stuff over.
Aubrey rolls Last Breath. She gets an 8. Death offers her a deal. She stands before the Black Gates and talks to Death. Death tells her that she still has much to do in the world. He can send her back. She just has to murder Lasbador (the party’s Wizard) without hesitation when Death calls her to do so.
Without hesitation, Aubrey tells Death “NO.“
This is how THE Fighter dies. With Glory and with Honor.
Rest in Peace Aubrey. The Underwatch will miss you.
Yes, slimes and oozes are one of the true jokes in the D&D fantasy world. They are ridiculous, non-frightening, silly things. They are found lurking about dungeons as a humorous homage to Gary Gygax. If you encountered some sort of pudding monster in your standard D&D dungeon, you would first laugh about its name for a while, then slay it with little hesitation, and move on.
But this is not D&D… This is Dungeon World.
So let me entertain you with a story…
Six adventurers were making their way through the Qualgothic Swamps, a vast and murky swamp known for housing such horrible creatures as the dreaded Basilisk that turns men to stone, Assassin Vines that will kill a man before he even knows it, and Trolls that ravage the swamps killing anything they see. But one brave crew of adventurers is making their way into this swamp looking for clues as to why a hold of goblins have been capturing and kidnapping townsfolk: Obeles the druid, Wesley the cleric, Titanius the paladin along with a junior member of his order named Brother Bartholomew, and Rudiger the fighter along with his dwarven friend Frankendorf. They had found a scrawled map on a goblin slaver they killed that led deep into this swamp, and it looked like these slavers had been taking people back to this swamp base indicated on the map. So the adventurers made their way out, focused on the task at hand.
Along their perilous journey into the swamp, Obeles was scouting ahead and watching their tails (rolled 7-9), only to notice that something was following them. Something that was leaving a long, wide, path. No footprints. Just a shallow, four foot wide groove, snaking its way toward the group. Rudiger, new to the group and having lived by these swamps for some time thought back to his accumulated knowledge (rolled 6-) instantly recalled rumors of the great Swamp Naga, said to grant wishes to specially chosen travelers in the swamp! Obeles was not convinced, taking to the trees as a flying squirrel (rolled 10+). But the rest of the group waited with bated breath for a chance to wish for anything they wanted! After a little time, they saw something moving underneath the water toward them, slow but steady. It came to a stop about 4 ft in front of them and seemed to stop and toil for a moment. Rudiger screamed “I WISH FOR A MAGIC SHIELD!”. Silence.
And then a silvery, blackish, pseudo-pod came jutting out of the water about 8 ft up in the air, undulating and flowing with liquid grace. It shimmered in the faint light coming through the trees, reflecting dark glimmers around it. And after what seemed like minutes, but was actually only seconds, as everyone just stared at it, it slammed down on the face and chest of Rudiger! His face burning and sizzling, the pain horrible beyond belief! Frankendorf pointed at it and bellowed “BLACK PUDDING!”
Titanius and Brother Bartholomew charged headlong into it slicing it and dicing it with sword and halberd (rolled 7-9), but to very little effect. Every time an “arm” of it was cut off, another appeared from beneath the dark waters. And worse yet, every strike to it splattered and splashed corrosive death back on its attackers, burning their arms and hands (counterattack at Titanius and Brother Bartholomew). Brother Bartholomew fell to the side, shoulder burning, as he pulled his boot knife attempting to scrape the painful sludge from his skin (taking most of the damage, but out of the fight). Wesley came to heal Titanius of his minor wounds and did so with the grace of his god (rolled 7-9) but called unwanted attention to himself (see the end of the story for how that worked out…). Obeles came down from the sky as a flying squirrel and shifted into an elephant (rolled 10+), attempting to stand in defense (rolled 6-) of Rudiger who was under assault by the vile monstrosity. But the ground was too soft, and the massive elephant began to sink deep into the bog ground, unable to defend or really do much at all. He used his trunk to whip a log at it (7-9), but, well, elephants aren’t known for their skill at volleying and the attack seemed to have no effect (take what you can get). Wesley then went storming in, attempting to beat the creature back (6-), but got pulled under the water by the creature’s many disturbing tentacles (hard move: damage, plus immobilization). His legs burnt like the fires of hell as the silvery-black ooze snaked up his leg. He was immobile, and it was pulling him under… fast. Titanius jumped for his friend Wesley, letting Brother Bartholomew scramble back to safety, and attempted to lay on hands (6-). But instead of healing Wesley, or even transferring Wesley’s wounds to himself, he took on Wesley’s wounds without healing Wesley in the slightest! Now both of them had burnt, pain-pulsing legs. At this point Rudiger had pulled back and gotten out from the grips of the thing (rolled 10+) and Obeles was shooting it with arrows (rolled 7-9) to no real effect (take what you can get). The group started to panic, and there were shouts of “Retreat!” in the air.
But Rudiger would have nothing of it! He charged forward, back, directly into the center mass of the beast, his ancient Dwarven sword held high (rolled 6-). And in what seemed like slow motion, he fell face first into the water! He rolled over and just as the main mass of the creature lunged at his face (hard move: damage), by divine intervention (cleric ability), a branch fell and protected his flesh from the burning acids of this foul creature. The creature didn’t miss a beat though, and it moved to his chest onto his dragon-scale armor and began dissolving it away (monster move), and attempting to slide under his armor and burn him even deeper (monster move). Rudiger and Frankendorf worked to cut the vile creature from his chest, and with some hacking and slashing, managed to do so (rolled 7-9), but Frankendorf was burnt in the attempt (counterattack at Rudiger), and fell back reeling in pain (out of the fight). At this time, Titanius had managed to pull Wesley free of the creatures bonds (rolled 7-9), but at the cost of ripping open his bag and losing some vital supplies (hard bargain). Once again, the call of “Retreat!” was heard loud and clear. Obeles transformed into a deer (rolled 7-9) and high-tailed it out of there, while the rest trailed on foot not too far behind thanking their gods for their lives.
It was the first fight that these adventurers took on that they had to abandon (session 3). Spirits were low. They made camp for the night. Unfortunately (ya, remember how Wesley called unwanted attention to himself), that is when the Goblin Slavers found them…
Now, the interesting part of all of this, was how the mechanics of it all worked out. First, let’s look at the monster:
Corrosive touch (d10 damage, ignores armor) Close
15 HP 1 Armor
Special Qualities: Amorphous
Instinct: To dissolve
- Eat away metal, flesh, or wood
- Ooze into a troubling place: food, armor, stomach
Now, lets look at the numbers of how the fight actually worked out.
The first hit on it by Titanius and Brother Bartholomew did 7 damage after applying armor. Then the thrown log by Obeles in elephant form did 0 damage after applying armor, and after subtracting the D6 for “take what you can get”. Then the arrows shot at it by Obeles did 1 damage after applying armor, and after subtracting the D6 for “take what you can get”. Lastly, the scraping and cutting at it by Rudiger and Frankendorf did 4 damage after applying armor. And then the retreat happened
It had 3 HP left, with a Fighter and a Paladin, each capable of dealing D10 damage. Looking at it like this, with the numbers all here, it seems crazy to run. All they needed was one more hit to kill it! It only had one damn armor! A D&D veteran would have laughed so hard he’d drop his 10’ pole!
But, with the fluff and the fiction, it was something else entirely. It was pulling them beneath the water! It was dissolving their skin and flesh and armor and gear! It was an Amorphous blob, giving no indication if it had 3 HP left or 33 HP left! It was something that will give them nightmares for days to come. It was horrible. It was death given form!
And this is the core of Dungeon World. This is it’s heart and soul.
The rules and stats are the skeleton that make an encounter, but it is the description and emotion and fiction that give it flesh and blood. This was in the Dungeon World campaign I GM two session back, and my players are still talking about how this was an amazing encounter. But there was nothing special about it in terms of stats and mechanics. What made it special was the story. What made it special was the fiction, and the fear and excitement and chaos that the fiction fueled.
Episode 1: The Kidnapping
Aubrey, Halfling Fighter
Lasbador, Human Wizard
Akajj Farstrider, Elven Druid of the Eastern Desert
Dash Seraphim, Human Bard
You stand at the end of a long hallway in an ancient building deep within the Undercity of New Axiom. You hear an anguished scream from the other side of the wooden door. You need the man on the other side of that door alive. You can still see the look on the Captain of the Guard’s face as he told you the importance of the task. Time is running out. What do you do?
This was my opening description to the first session of my group’s newly formed game of Dungeon World. I tried to follow the book’s suggestion to start the game in the thick of things. I came armed with only the most basic of frameworks of what the session was going to be about: all the stuff we outlined in the world creation step about 30 minutes before we started playing and a kidnapping/rescue scenario.
What follows is going to be a highlight of the events of the session. I plan on going through some of the awesome events that took place and discuss what was going through my head and some of the judgement calls I made. I’m no stranger to running games but Dungeon World is a different beast. You really have to think about the consequences of player actions and know exactly what is at stake each time the dice are rolled. Because of this you will find plenty of threads in internet land about “understanding” Dungeon World enough to run the game. I figure if I running through reports like this might help me find ways to improve my game as well as giving some insight for others.
So what did our Underwatch do?
Aubrey charged at the door and busted it down!
I liked it. Iconic Fighter type stuff. A quick Bend Bars / Lift Gates roll later the door was smashed off the hinges and the group charged into the room.
The Watch found themselves standing in front of five men. Four of which were obvious members of the Bower Street Boys and the fifth was some poor chap tied to an old chair with the visible signs that spend most of his free time as of late being someone else’s punching bag.
The shocked thugs were speechless and most started to fidget nervously while the Watch filled the room.
I admit that I didn’t much know where to go at first. I liked the idea of starting the game with the group busting in on a crime in progress. I rolled with it and made the thugs scared and nervous and waiting for the Watch to make the first move. I get the idea that my players expected these guys to charge at them and for combat to break out after busting down the door. I thought maybe that’s what I should have done. But it turned out better this way. They got to do try out some “police procedure.”
The Watch declared who they were and their intentions to bring these men to justice. The Undercity isn’t home to anything remotely close to the “suspect’s rights,” so the interrogation began right at the scene of crime.
It was learned that the poor chap in the chair was Dillard, a young member of the Stonemason Guild. The Stonemasons are responsible for the upkeep and construction of New Axiom. They also have the reputation of having access to blue-prints, schematics and maps of most of the city old and new. In other words, young Dillard is a fount of the kind of information that a band of thugs could have some real fun with. Dillard was also the very man the Watch had been sent to find.
It was around this time the scrawniest of the Bower Street Boys became extremely agitated. He was vigorously fiddling with an object behind his back, desperately hoping that the watch wouldn’t catch on.
They caught on.
All at once they demanded to see what Scrawny was up to. But it was too late. As he showed the wondrous items his hands concealed they heard the calls and screams of more thugs outside.
What were these items? A pair of enchanted bottle caps that were glowing with a soft blue nimbus. A rushed interrogation had the scrawny thug reveal that those were gifts from The Stoutman. It was here that we established that The Stoutman was some kind of criminal Kingpin in the Undercity. Some kind of back alley boogey-man that no one had ever seen. The bottle caps? When rubbed together they allowed communication between the gangs remotely. Bad news for the Underwatch.
After it was clear these “suspects” were not going to come in quietly, our group quickly attacked them. Aubrey cleaved one in twain, Dash pinned one to the wall with his rapier, Lasbador fired magic missiles and Akajj was fighting tooth and claw (and spear). Just when the characters seems their most Bad Ass, I had the front door the building smashed down and a flood of Thugs started to poor down the hallway. The magic bottle caps work.
Soon the party was running for their lives with a couple of
hostages suspects in tow. They started to smash their way through the dilapidated wall into the building next door. One of the suspects took his chance to try and escape and was run through by Dash. They proceeded into the building to find an old stone door. Akajj took a position to hold off the stampede of gangers while the rest of the party examined the door. It was sealed shut by ancient dwarven mechanisms. Akajj quickly shifted into Bear form and starting to fight the thugs 2-3 at a time. Aubrey did a Bend Bars / Lift Gates and got the old door open before returning to Akajj’s side.
Meanwhile, Dash and Lasbador were debating how safe it would be to descend the pitch-black staircase that was behind the door. Lasbador quickly tried to cast his Light spell and got a Miss (6-). The clean glow of the magical energy swirled around and was quickly siphoned down the staircase. Oops. Not one to waste a good scouting resource, Lasbador shoved the remaining suspect down the stairs. The poor guy’s anguished screams and loud thud of impact as he met the bottom was all the scouting the young Wizard needed. Dash and Lasbador nodded at each other and followed down the stairs, calling to Aubrey and Akajj to follow.
Once the pair could push the gangers back they charged after their companions and met them at the bottom of the steps. The only light in the tunnel at the bottom was the swirling energy from Lasbador’s previous Light spell. A large group of gangers were now at the top of the steps. It was either take their chances with the darkened hallway or fight the mob coming down the steps after them. They decided to run headlong into the darkness.
So you might be saying “Hey Guy, didn’t the Wizard miss with that Light spell?” Why yes he did. The move I choose to do was Turn their move back at them. I described the desperate chase down the hall. The countless enemies to their rear and nothing but the ghostly whisp in the darkness to lead their way. Suddenly, the light picked up speed and was consumed by something at the end of the hall. The soft glow turned an angry red as the magic from the rogue spell brought an ancient construct to life. Standing around 10 feet tall and made of smooth rock segments connected by ancient dwarven mechanics the towering war golem stood up. It’s eyes glowed with such intensity that it bathed the hallway in a dim red light. It started to run toward our Underwatch.
It was right around this time that I really fell in love with Dungeon World as a game. I hadn’t even really considering what might be beyond that door when I put it in their way. The miss on the Light spell immediately gave me the idea that the magic was “drawn” to the old magi-tek that was in these ruins. And what would it turn on? Huge Dwarven War Golems that’s what!
The look on the players’ faces was priceless.
The group immediately turned and started running back toward the mob of gangers. They figured it was the best of the two options. The Wizard Spouted some Lore about what this thing was as they ran full tilt the way they came. The result was 10+ so I spilled the beans. “The intense RED glow of this golem’s eyes sends a shiver down your spine. The only golems that were said to have eyes like that were the ones crafted by Garven MadAxe, a twisted rune-tek that was said to have found a way to power his creations with Hellfire. As a result they have a special hatred for all living beings. Oh, and they are said to be indestructible.”
’RUN!” Lasbador screamed in response. On one end of the hall we had an ever increasing amount of Bower Street Boys flooding down the path and on the other we had a twisted dwarven warmachine bearing down on them like a locomotive. The Underwatch needed to think fast. Luckily someone was able to spot a hallway on the right side of the tunnel. They ran right past it in the dark. Thanks to the Hellfire glow emanating from the 2 tons of death behind them, it was somewhat easier to see this time around.
The group did a quickly timed turn and the Golem smashed into the oncoming Bower Street Boys. Screams of agony mixed with the sounds of pistons and gears as the mechanical monster tore through the poor Boys.
The rest of the adventure was a short affair. They hurried their way through the tunnels and were able to find the secret passage out. It was at this point we learned about Lasbador’s “other gift.” He’s a Human Wizard so he get’s a Cleric Spell to start. He decided to take Guidance, but instead of always seeing his deity for the answers, he has a vision/hallucination that is appropriate to the task at hand. He rolled well and saw the “ghost” of Garven Madaxe himself. After a short conversation with the vision (giving the rest of the group the heebie jeebies) Lasbador found the way out. Just in time too, the sounds of more of the Hellfire Golems waking up echoed through the chambers.
So the first mission of the Underwatch was a success. They made it back with Dillard the Stonemason. They made enemies of the street gangs below. They unleashed a group of life-hating automatons. Oops. That last part isn’t so good. But fear not! The Underwatch always cleans up their mess. I hope.
- Who is the Stoutman and how does he have access to create such wondrous items?
- What were the Bower Street Boys trying to beat out of the Stonemason, Dillard.
- How in the nine hells is the group going to explain / deal with the Hellfire golems they have unleashed?
So I finally put together a game of Dungeon World. This was our group’s first experience with any of the *World games. Short version of the story: It was amazing. It simultaneously scratched the itch to run a very free form story game while supporting all the Old School D&D troupes. The way the mechanics helped the events in the story snowball into more and more exciting scenes was great. Enough gushing over it though. Check out the PDF for $10. It’s well worth it.
I’m going to do some actual play reports of the game to showcase some of the fun. Dungeon World assumes and suggests that you fill in a lot of the setting details throughout the first session of play. The GM comes to the table with a loose idea and asks the players leading questions to fill out the rest.
We decided to form the setting a little bit before making characters since I was interesting in twisting around a few setting assumptions to incorporate a more urban environment. I stumbled upon this post and fell in love with the idea. So a big Thank You goes out to henrythewhite for the inspiration. Hopefully he doesn’t mind me taking his idea and running with it.
I really liked how you could do the old school “dungeons everywhere” theme and literally put a sprawling metropolis right on top. So the adventurers would descend into the trouble levels while backstabbing nobleman made life on the surface just as dangerous.
This is the pitch I sent to my players:
In the largest and the oldest city in The World, adventure lurks around every corner. The city has been leveled and rebuilt countless times due to wars and disasters both magical and natural.. As a result the sewer system and underbelly is home to whole communities of the “lesser” members of society and ancient passages are always being uncovered from the “old times.”
The City Below has always been ignored by the City Watch. Resources are stretched to their limit patrolling the city proper. That is until now. Something has the ruling body angry. They are fed up that the Watch does nothing in the City Below. The rulers and the Captain of the Guard came to an “agreement.” Thus the Underwatch was born. No one was required to transfer to the Underwatch but each District had to find “volunteers” to make the change. The worst miscreants from the Watch have been given positions in the Underwatch. YOU are a member of the Underwatch.
Are you ready to fight your way through the crime and grime in the City Below? Are you prepared to unearth the secrets of the cities of old buried deep below the streets? Sharpen your sword. Study your spells. Your career in the Underwatch starts now.
Lucky for me they all ate it up.
So fast forward to last Saturday when we finally made the setting come to life and make some quick characters (all character creation in Dungeon World is quick. And like most of the game, Really Awesome).
For those of you that haven’t done a collaborative Setting/World building exercise as part of an RPG before, I highly recommend it. We played a recent game of Dresden Files and had a ton of fun making the city. Dungeon World takes a more free form approach compared to Dresden’s phases. Normally you would just start in media res in some dungeon or other dangerous situation and build the world through actual play.
I decided to combine the approaches. I went around and asked people questions regarding THE CITY. Once we had a solid idea of what the city was like, we jumped into the game right in the middle of the action like normal.
The first question I asked was “What’s the City’s name?” The players quickly responded with “Axiom. New Axiom, ya know, since it has been destroyed over and over. They always call the current top side city New Axiom.”
Our City was born and all the questions and answers spawned more questions and answers. So how did The City turn out? Let’s take a look.
Welcome to New Axiom
New Axiom is a sprawling metropolis that is situated on the coast. It is massive in scale and many of it’s structures have towers or are otherwise designed to have a large vertical footprint. The city is divided into Districts. Each District has a Councilor that is in charge of the goings on within that district.
My players loved the idea of a City Council of sorts that ran the city. It also opens up the path for political games between Districts. New Axiom also has a figurehead Chancellor or Regent that is “officially” the ruler but holds no real political power. The Districts keep their own branch of the Watch that has jurisdiction within that District. The newest district, The Undercity, has no official Council member and the Underwatch is comprised of all the worst of the Watch from other Districts.
Through the questions and answer session regarding the city and Characters we were able establish that there are 12 districts. We haven’t defined them all (keeping with the make maps, leave blanks principle of Dungeon World) but came up with a bulk of them.
The Districts that were mentioned:
- Magistrate: Government District. Home to House Vansteel
- Sky: Home to House Saraphim, who control the City’s Magi-Tech Airships.
- Garden: Home to House Highgarden, a posh “vacation” spot for nobles. Also controls the Food production and distribution for New Axiom.
- Arcanum: Home to University Arcana. The entire district is the campus and home to the magical scholars. Their branch of the watch is known as the The Black Wands. Their specialty is to police their own regarding crimes of a magical nature. The players determined that Divination is illegal (punishable by death even!) and summoning is highly regulated. Magic is still very rare and powerful but these are laws held over from an age past.
- Stonekin: The Dwarven District.
- Northgate: The main enterance to the city.
- Craftsmen: Lower class workers. High Halfling population.
- Westgate: The entrance for the “low.” It was established that Dwarves and Humans are viewed as equals and Elves and Halflings as “lesser” races. Elves are prejudiced against for being responsible for the destruction of the city in ages past with their misuse of magic.
- Undercity: EVERYTHING under ground level. It’s big, dangerous and mysterious. The first few levels are inhabited by people and after that its all buried secrets, ancient ruins and unearthed tombs.
This leaves us with 3 districts to play with as well as all the supporting details of the ones above. Without really trying we basically built a fantasy version of Hive Primus from GW’s 40K Necromunda setting. Rival houses, buried relics, dangerous gangs living in the Undercity. All great stuff. We mapped out some broad stroke details and got a little more description from character backgrounds. I feel like the there are still enough “blanks” on the map to make anything else work.
Meet the Underwatch
Lasbador Bentledon – Wizard
Lasbador is a former student of the University Arcana and quickly gained the disapproval of the Archmage. He was quickly offered a job in the Black Wands simply to be stripped of the title and “volunteered” to the Underwatch.
- Aubrey will play an important role in the events to come. I have foreseen it!
- Dash is keeping an important secret from me.
- Akajj Farstrider is woefully misinformed about the world; I will teach them all that I can
Dash Seraphim – Bard
The third son in the Sky District’s Seraphim family, he decided to skip out on his “mandated” appointment to the church of Pelor. To make matters worse he further soiled the family name by engaging in a high profile scandal with the daughter of Lucius Vansteel. Maybe a stint in the Underwatch is exactly what he needs.
- This not my first adventure with Lasbador
- I sang stories of Akajj Farstrider long before I ever met them in person
- Aubrey is often the butt of my jokes
- I am writing a ballad about the adventures of Aubrey
- Lasbador trusted me with a secret
- Akajj does not trust me, and for good reason
Aubrey – Fighter
Aubrey grew up in the streets of the Craftsman district. Being a Halfling is hard in New Axiom. Prejudice is everywhere. Aubrey’s spirit was only strengthened through the constant adversity. She befriended a retired war hero Gregor and became the daughter he never had. With Gregor’s axe in hand she was determined to get a position in the City Watch. Luckily the City Watch had an opening . . .
- Dash owes their life, whether they admit it or not
- I have sworn to protect Lasbador
- I worry about the ability of Lasbador to survive in the Underwatch
- Akajj Farstrider is soft, but I will make them hard like me
Akajj Farstrider – Druid
Akajj Farstrider is an elf from The East. Tales of these dark skinned elves paint them as savage and cannibalistic desert nomads. Half of that is true. No one is sure yet of which half that is. Akajj traveled to New Axiom and was recruited to the Underwatch. Press ganged really. Either way, it is a means to the check out the rumors of an ancient forest that grows beneath the city.
- Lasbador smells more like prey than hunter
- The spirits spoke to me of a great danger that follows Aubrey
- I have showed Dash a secret rite of the Land
Fate is a game that has been on my mind a whole lot lately. The biggest reason is that a new generic version of the rules in the works by Evil Hat Productions called Fate Core. Fate Core is shaping up to be a great system for any Homebrew settings and a killer version of the Fate rules. It offers up a cleaned up and better presentation. If you like a game that is all about Story First then do yourself a favor and check out Fate if you haven’t already.
In hopes of helping me get some of my Fate-centric ideas down somewhere I am going to try and make this a regular article for the near future. I figure between my experiments hacking Fate Core and being a player in an upcoming Dresden Files RPG game I should have plenty of things to say.
My goal for this week is simple. To get Fate Core on everyone’s radar. The Kickstarter has been a HUGE success and has one of the best values in terms of rewards I have seen in quite some time.
Don’t believe me?
Yes. You currently get 11 PDF’s for $10. That number will raise to 12 if the project reaches $400K before the end. That last one is a new version of the Dresden Files RPG BTW.
To pledge you can head to the main project page HERE.
OK.OK. Enough advertising. Be sure to tune in next week when I have a report on the City & Character Creation session for our Dresden Files game.
The Year I Learn to Love Organized Play
I launched Bored & Sorcery 6 months ago. I was riding a wave of inspiration to write about my hobbies and give myself a platform to speak about all the games I love. It was a time where I was spending many more hours thinking about gaming than actually getting any time to play games. I set out to post at least once a week (what I thought to be a moderate goal). I kept up for a while and then Gen Con 2012 hit.
This year’s Gen Con brought out a few games that have since taken up a lot of gaming time. Things took a shift and I started to spend lots of my free time gaming and was taking a break from the constant reading, analyzing and planning for games to play in the future.
The first game was Android: Netrunner. The first of Fantasy Flight’s LCGs that I really bought into. I love the concept. I love the mechanics. I love to play it. I was lucky enough to get the majority of my gaming group to take the plunge and we were soon playing as often as we could. Much to my pleasure, this is still the trend.
With Netrunner came another first for me. Branching out and finding a local scene for the game. I tried a few times in the past to get involved in a game and never really found any success. I was eager to play as much Netrunner as possible and was lucky enough to stumble on a post in the FFG Forums about a casual league starting up at Cat & Mouse Game Store here in Chicago. I quickly recruited some of my fellow players from my circle of friends and we decided to join up. What resulted was some of the most fun I’ve had in quite some time.
The store is amazing and the staff are great. The steady group of players are top notch and a blast to play against. I just love going there and geeking out for a Sunday afternoon. I found that this greatly improved my game as well. I get to play against different people with different play styles and it has helped me see some things that I may have missed otherwise. I am also loving watching the group grow and get better at the game in general. People trying out new factions or strategies after discussing them during a league match. I see some real growth as a group from the frequency of play. Players not falling for the same old tricks. New players learning the game and keeping everyone’s enthusiasm up. It was my first real experience playing a game in it’s Prime and experiencing everything that can go with a local “meta” scene.
As the first cycle of Data packs for Netrunner is starting to release, the excitement is still very high. We are currently getting ready to hold a tournament to wrap up Season 1 of the League and then start Season 2 as the New Year gets underway.
My experience with Netrunner lead me to seek out other games too. Instead of just looking for games that interested me and trying to sell them to my friends, I sought out games that that did that AND already had a game night or group somewhere for me to jump into. I found a great group playing the X-Wing miniatures game at Games Plus on Monday nights. I immediate felt welcome and have made some friends there while making “pew pew” noises and constant Lando jokes. It has proved to be a great pick up and play game. The pre-painted miniatures and the quick and intuitive gameplay make it truly enjoyable. More so than I thought at first glance. I bought into the game pretty deep and am eagerly awaiting the release of the second wave of ships.
It may sound cheesy or even strange but both of these experiences has really made me love gaming all over again.
So where do we go from here?
2013 is shaping up to be a fun year. I’ve found 4 or 5 solid games that I plan on playing a ton of. I have had some issues in the past with always searching for the next game to play. I’m sure that will continue to some extent but my wallet will appreciate the effort of focus for once. For the upcoming year I am going to focus on playing these games and seeing what happens.
I’m guessing you want to know what games made it on my list. No? Well here it is anyway.
The top 4 I am pretty sure on. The Star Wars LCG looks really interesting to me. I was lucky enough to get one as a gift this holiday season and am eager to try it out. It borrows enough from a lot of games that I like and turns it into something really fun. If nothing else, it should be a game that sees a good group of players (it’s Star Wars remember) and the games look like they will go by quickly.
I already have plans to attend Adepticon 2013 and Gen Con 2013. I might even make a trip to Fantasy Flight Game’s Worlds Weekend in November as well.
What does this mean for the Blog?
This is an interesting question. With all this gaming I should have more than enough to talk about right? I mean with all the gaming books I still read there should be plenty of reviews going up and if the above is any indication plenty of after action reports and event coverage.
I really fell short of my goal for the first 6 months here. I still have 6 months to go to make the first year come out right. I want to expand my audience and take on some new perspectives too. I’d like Bored & Sorcery to gain a voice in the scene in 2013. I know I can’t do this alone. I am going to look for some like-minded individuals to contribute on a fairly regular basis. I will continue to look for a few authors that will have fun writing about everything and anything about gaming.
I have to do my part as well. I’m going to go back to my original goal and try to post at least an article a week. I feel like I am in a position to do that much easier than before.
So here is a sincere Thank You to all of you that take the time to read my ramblings. A Thank You to all of those that have helped contribute content to this site and a Thank You to all of those that I play all of these crazy games with on a regular basis. I’ll see you all in 2013.
The Fantasy RPG genre is certainly one filled with choices. Some might even say that it is getting overpopulated at this point. I think that is all the more reason to check out the new games that are coming out. Each author and publisher is looking to give us a new way to experience the genre and I am always eager to take a look at what might make them stand out from the pack.
Barebones Fantasy fits within the rules-lite category as far as RPG systems go. It offers an easy to learn rules system that keeps character creation quick the game moving along. I was surprised to find out that Barebones Fantasy (despite the name) had quite a bit under the hood. So let’s crack it open and see what’s what.
Sometimes you want to judge a book by the cover. In this case I was greeted with some traditional Fantasy RPG fare: A party of intrepid adventures about to battle the big bad Red Dragon. In my eyes this is a good thing. If you’re selling a new take on traditional fantasy, why not open up with some familiar imagery to get the reader’s head in the right place.
The basic dice mechanic is a simple percentile. You roll a d100 and compare it to your Ability or Skill. If you get equal to or below your score you succeed. Simple and to the point.
There are four Abilities that make up your character. They are Strength, Dexterity, Logic and Willpower. These are used to do the normal attribute stuff that any RPG player is used to with some slight differences. Strength lets you lift objects and influences melee weapon use but also determines how much damage you can take (something a Constitution or Endurance stat usually does). Dexterity is used to shoot, jump and dodge out of the way of incoming harm. Logic is used for perception and deduction and Willpower is used for persuasion, bluffing (borrowing for traditional Social or Charisma stats) and some spell resistance.
There are eight different Skills that a character can learn. They are: Cleric, Enchanter, Leader, Scholar, Scout, Spellcaster, Thief and Warrior. These function as areas of expertise that a character has as opposed to singular skill specialties that some games rely on. Scout, Thief and Warrior are Skills that all characters can use. The others require training (meaning points must be invested in these) for a character to use them.
Making a character in Barebones Fantasy is a pretty straight forward process. First, you roll Ability Scores. To roll up a set you roll 5d10 and add 30 for each score. Once you have four of them you can assign them to the four Ability Scores. You then pick your Race (all the standard fantasy races are included). Then you assign a primary and secondary Skill (which boost your starting score using it) and then assign one Skill rank to a skill.
Players then get to define one positive and one negative “descriptor” to their character. These are roleplaying quirks that will reward the character with bonus Development Points (XP) if they portray this during the gaming session.
Next is Moral code which steps in and takes the place of an alignment system. This is a cool change of pace as it gets rid of the tried and true Good vs Evil distinction. Instead you decide to what degree your character displays certain aspects. There are three levels: Somewhat, Very and Totally. These are used to describe how Kind or Cruel, Forcus or Unfocused, Selfless or Selfish, Honorable or Deceitful and Brave or Cowardly they are. After these guidelines are set, the GM can call for a WIL checks when the character is acting “out of character” and wishes to act outside their personal moral code.
After that you buy some equipment and determine all your derived stats (Body Points, Initiative, Damage Reduction from Armor and so on).
Magic and Spellcasting
Like most actions in Barebones Fantasy, Spellcasting is easy to execute. Usually this is just a test of the Spellcasting or Cleric skill. What is worth noting though is that spells have a toolbox approach that can change from casting to casting. You might have a buff spell that can improve an ally’s ability score. At the time of casting you can change which Attribute is the one to get boosted. The same goes for some of the damage spells. Fireball one turn and Lightning Bolt the next. It allows for quick rules but different trappings for each casting.
Combat is a straight forward affair. You roll a d100 and compare to your ability or skill. If you get equal to or lower you succeed and deal damage. You’ll notice that there is no “defense trait” like Armor Class or anything factored into the equation. This is because defending counts as an action.
Each action after the first you take in a turn results in a -20 percent penalty to all skill and ability checks. So it creates a simple tactical decision of whether you want to defend (and make any subsequent attacks suffer the increasing penalty) or do you take the hit and hit them with your full skill rating. It also allows for multiple attacks per round, making higher ranked characters able to dish out some punishment to groups of bad guys.
GM Guidelines and Setting
The rest of the book is all for the GM. You have a chapter that goes into more detail on running a game. It has guidelines for bonuses and penalties to rolls as well as rules for all kinds of conditions (dazed, immobilized, prone, slowed) and different ways to get hurt (falling, starvation, fire, environmental exposure). This alone gives Barebones Fantasy a little more meat than a traditional “rules-lite” game.
There is also an included setting that is presented in a very “broad strokes” fashion. It requires the GM to fill in most of the details but the inclusion is a nice starting point for new comers.
I think that DWD Studios have a great rules-lite game on their hands. Barebones Fantasy gives some comprehensive attention to areas that most rules-lite games simply skimp on. This is especially welcomed in the areas of Spell utility, equipment lists and character statuses. The rules are simple and easy to learn and teach. I think for $10 it makes a perfect game for teaching beginners the hobby or for anyone who is looking to throw some of the crunch to the side and dive right into the game.
Patch Notes is going to be my ongoing series about Android: Netrunner. In the first installment we will look at a new piece of Weyland ICE that is part of the upcoming Genesis cycle.
FFG was awesome enough to give a German Netrunner site by the name of Wyldside.de an exclusive preview of the new card.
Like any Runner worth his creds, I grabbed the data and ran with it.
I have to say I like what I see.
Type: ICE: Sentry – Tracer
Rez Cost: 3
- Trace 3 : If successful, the Corp gains 3 Creds.
- Trace 2: If successful, End the Run.
I think this is a pretty solid piece of ICE, especially for early game. Those sub-routines really play nice with each other. The first one is pretty much a win/win for the Corp. The runner is either going to break the routine (costs creds), pay to win the trace (costs creds) or let you Trace them and grab 3 Creds for yourself. Any of these options is looking in your favor as far as the Cred war goes. Early in the game the Runner might be tempted to let you have this one and focus on spending the creds to fight off the second routine.
The second routine is another trace but this time it ends the run. What’s great about this is that if the runner ignored the first routine and let you grab the credits, you can then immediately use them to beef up the strength of this trace and end their run.
I see this being more influential in the first few rounds of the game, before the Runner can come up with an answer to Sentries.
This card also strikes me as interesting as it seems gaining Creds through their ICE is something that will continue to happen for Weyland.
Either way, I’m glad that this first cycle is giving more love to Traces. I have a feeling that Caduceus is going to find its way into my NBN deck for sure.
Obsession. The word I can best use to describe my current love affair with Android: Netrunner. I was lucky enough to have a copy snatched up at GenCon and have played somewhere around 50 games since then.
Each game has been a pleasure to play and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.
Android: Netrunner is the new entry in Fantasy Flight’s successful Living Card Game (LCG) stable.
That means it is not collectible and won’t completely annihilate your wallet if you decide to give it a try. So after playing tons of games and getting involved in some organized play on the local level, I feel ready to sing its praises.
So jack in and stay awhile. This will probably be a long one.