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Saturday, December 5, 2015



this game is about PSHYWAR

she is young and she is out for adventure
no, she is looking for something

it's okay that i'm not sure what

MOVE: recollect
this is a game about remembering
Can everyone recollect? No. Only PSHYWAR.
But everyone takes turns being PSHYWAR.

PSHYWAR is building a past.
Everything around her has a past, and her companions know it.
GAALGON is a part of every past.

GAALGON is an the antagonist.
Their identity is unfixed but takes on character as players take turns being them.
Maybe certain GM moves require/allow the revelation of information?
They are always a step ahead of PSHYWAR.
Perhaps they are a shapeshifter.

The world is sad and gray. It has pockets of colour.

Other PCs are supporting characters. They come and go. They are the colour of the world.
Their job is to build a world for PSHYWAR to explore, and for GAALGON to ruin.

They include MOLUCK, the dead wizard's homunculus.
CALC, the red robot seeking a heart.
RADA, the froggish swordswoman of the swamp, who wants to woo PSHYWAR.
GRANDMOTHER ESTIVELLE, from Castle XXXXX, who seeks to bring PSHYWAR home.
FRAMOR the tigress, who wants to honour her debt to PSHYWAR. She does so by her own means.
OLANON the witch, who wishes to steal PSHYWAR's heart -- literally

Found this lying around my harddrive. I typed this up about a year ago and never really followed up on it but I'm thinking it was actually kind of a cool idea. Copied directly from the file, pretentious caps and all.

So the idea was an RPG where the players swap around roles in between session, So the "main character" - Pshywar, it played and developed by everyone. Gaalgon and the supporting cast switch hands every session, and you get different supporting characters from session to session.

I think my mental image for this game was Samurai Jack as drawn by Yoskitaka Amano with some Miyazaki feels thrown in. I mean Gaalgon is pretty much Aku.

Also implicit in the writing is that I was intending to base the rules off Apocalypse World and its ilk - hence the references to Moves. It would be cool if the GM had a playbook for Gaalgon indicating how they are able to manifest their influence. The idea being Gaalgon advances like any other PC.

Thinking about it now it would be cool if the supporting characters determine what kind of things Pshywar can recollect. So, like, if Flamor is injured defending Pshywar, Flamor's player gets to invent a detail about her and Pshywar's shared past - their first encounter, the last time they saw each other, the reason for Flamor's dept, etc. (Flamor, being a tiget, can't talk, so she can't just explain these things.)

Rada might be good at fighting and her bravado recalls past loves. Grandmother Estivelle brings back memories of Pshywar's childhood. Maybe Olanon helped Gaalgon rise to power?

Pshywar needs a clearer goal. Obviously her primary goal is to rid herself of Gaalgon - whether that means killing them or simply getting away I'm undecided on. But, what brings her from place to place? Maybe she doesn't know yet. That's why she's the center of every session. Really the idea is to create her by playing as/with her. The establishment of clearer goals might be tied to advancement?

Tentatively, let's say her goal is to "find colour".

I'm still not sure where I'm going with this but I really like the idea. This will be seeing more work.


 Music by Tom

 Via Flickr:
 Outdoor theater, Kjosfossen, Norway. Its total fall is around 225 metres (738 ft).

One of Gaalgon's lieutenants?

Magic Wire mesh sculptures by Pauline Ohrel (FR) 
(via Pinterest: Discover and save creative ideas)


Harlequin - Raúl Soldi
This seems like a good candidate for a supporting character


The Letter, by Moebius

This is there, but there's no one is looking at it and it's never going to be finished
Possible ally or assassin sent by Gaalgon
Gaalgon is behind this somehow
This too
That's Pshywar in there

artmastered:Giorgio de Chirico, The Red Tower, 1913

Michael Whelan, Watchtower
A place of colour?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Lunch-hour D&D

Okay so I was just doing my thang being on Google+ when Daniel Davis (who also does a D&D Actual Play podcast) asked this very interesting question:

Click the picture to go to the thread.

This sent my mind reeling and here's where it went.

Essentially the question at hand is How can I provide an interesting D&D session within very tight time constraints?

I am reading in the following assumptions:

  • Each session is part of a longer campaign.
  • A session should provide at least one very interesting decision, the outcome of which has a bearing on the unfolding of the campaign.
Furthermore I propose the following principles as a matter of personal taste:

  • A session should be planned and executed in such a way that maximizes the amount of time spent engaging in interesting decision-making.
  • The structure of the campaign respects player agency and allows players a significant degree of agency in directing its development.
  • A session should be compact and run smoothly and swiftly. Frequent backtracking is undesirable; each session should at least offer at least one novel possibility.
So here's a lunch-hour campaign I came up with, assuming 30-60 minute sessions:

Journey to the Center of the Earth

In the depths of an ancient mine is a tunnel that goes on for miles. It is rumoured to lead to a massive dungeon complex that reaches to the Center of the Earth, where the treasure-laden city of the First Ones is fabled to hold riches unimaginable. A bold group of adventurers has decided to delve into the tunnel and see if the stories are true.

This gigadungeon is made up to two types of part: Nodes and passages. Nodes are small- to medium-sized adventure areas, containing the usual dungeon fare. Passages lead between two or more nodes, but are extremely long - they take hours, sometimes days, to cross. The difference between nodes and passages is usually very clearly demarcated and unmistakable; the party will know when they find a new passage. Furthermore, passages are often covered with very visible hints about where they lead (eg., a passage leading to a dragon's would be lined with images of treasure and fire. Or maybe even just drawings of a dragon). A passage may not be explored in the same session in which it is discovered but offers new options for future sessions. A single node should take about 1-3 sessions to clear.

The party travels with several detachments* of hirelings; scouts, men-at-arms, perhaps a sage. These can be deployed in between session to perform their various services: Scouts will provide partial maps and information on a node's inhabitants but will not engage in combat; men-at-arms will patrol previously cleared areas to keep out intruders and stand guard at night; sages will attempt to decipher coded documents, follow up on clues, and are assumed to have researched the dungeon extensively. And so on. New detachments can be enlisted through play, but also lost (scouts abducted, men-at-arms zombified, sages driven mad, etc.). Dispatching a detachment always requires some form of compensation for its services.

The party advances by exploring and clearing nodes. XP is awarded for each node cleared, depending on how deep it is, and a cleared node is generally safe to camp out in for at least a few days, until some new thing comes to claim it. Some nodes are just plain safe. The party always ends the session by heading to a nearby safe node or passage.

Food, light, water, and other consumable resources are tracked rigorously. The party will have to find new sources of these resources as they explore, and will have to maintain a decent stockpile of treasure to keep their detachments paid and happy.

A session goes as follows: During the first 5-10 minutes, the DM tells the results of the previous session's detachment dispaches, if any, and tells the PCs what nodes are attached to their current position and what they know about them. The players choose a node to explore. This decision is binding: This is what they're doing this session. The next 20-50 minutes are spent exploring the node. In the last 5-10 minutes of the session, the PC leave the current node and choose a safe location nearby in which to rest. Rations and water are consumed. The players decide how to assign their detachments and the session ends. The DM will determine the outcome of the detachment's activities and prepare accordingly before the next session.

Note that the detachments actually serve to guide a DM's prep. Passages contain hints about where they lead, which should inform the players' decision about where to scout. This in turn tells the DM which nodes to prep. You may even have a meta-rule that the DM is not beholden to prep unscouted nodes, or that a node must be scouted before the party can explore it.

*Thanks to Chris McDowall for the detachment idea. Except oops I just noticed he calls them delegations. Whatever. More on these here.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Two session reports from San Serafin (as hastily mashed out on Facebook)

So I've been sick this weekend which should mean I'm miserable but instead I've been playing in Mateo's San Serafin games. This is how I told it to my boyfriend via facebook chat:

also this game i played in last night was so much fun

What happened?
ok so it was one of mat diaz's games
and he hacked red and pleasant land into this massive undead city where beasts, the dead, and the living are at war
i was playing as a 14 year-old witch boy with morty's voice
who can do a dance to turn into small animals and tie knots that people become obsessed with untying
none of which actually helped me
but anyway it was mostly ordinary d&d stuff, we decided to explore this huge opera house guarded by a 25-foot caiman
but then we went to the opera and the vampire in our party started booing the singer and the semi-intelligent zombies in the audience got up and started trying to kill him
so i got up and told the audience that we were actors in a new form of experimental theatre that involved audience participation and actors hidden in the crowd
and then like weaved this whole narrative
the vampire gotten eaten anyway but the rest of us got away alive and with a standing ovation
and we got a coat with a map to a manor and stole a witchy coat from the cloakroom and there was a letter in the pocket signed by the king of lepers, who's a powerful NPC guy and witch patron I can learn spells from
we got almost 0 XP
it was great

Hahaha sounds like fun

I should join this game more

What happened to Jessica? [Talking about Jessica Nobletush the Vampire, my Perfidious Albion PC]
well this was mostly his friends from home
okay so he also ran the setting friday night with g+ people
and jessica is already knee-deep in the shit in some other part of the city so I figured I wanted to keep that separate

Oh lol
jessica's having a hard time
he had a turtle that had a ring on it containing the soul of a slain rival
the idea being to punish him forever by trapping him in the body of a turtle
but like
then there were some zombies guarding a gate and they asked me to impress them
so I showed them the turtle
and they bit off its head
and then when i tried to take the ring back they punched me really hard in the face and we ran away
then - remember Mr. Crushmore, his thrall? he was there too
well okay first we run into this terrifying funeral procession thing and the leader gets angry at us for blocking his way
and tells us we have to bring him a living victim
which is fine for me cause i needed to drink some blood
(in retrospect I could have drank Mr. Crushmore's)
Anyway we eventually run into a child with broken legs crying in the road
so anyway obvi it's an ambush and two jaguars attack us and the kid pulls a shiv
so the jaguars were tearing mr crushmore to pieces and there was clearly no saving him so I went into a bloodlust and ate the boy
so I'm down a rival's soul, which might be anywhere by now, a faithful thrall, and there's a funeral procession waiting for us to bring it a living soul
the session ended when we found a human camp
oh and i came up with this plan
where okay so I need to feed but I also need to rest and the jaguars destroyed my coffin while they were mauling Mr. Crushmore
so we dressed up half of mr crushmore in different clothes (he was in pieces anyway) so we're going to ask for two coffins for our "two dead friends" but really we're going to bury mr. crushmore in one and I'll sleep in the other and they'll never know I'm a vampire.
great times in mateo's game lately

Lol not a bad plan

Yeah sounds like it

Let me know when the next game is

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Stick this on your arctic encounters table


(AKA. Frost Hag, Tundra Witch, Ice Diva, Cold Widow)

(GameFreak later changed its skintone to purple so it would look less like a woman in blackface but they also made its expression less dopey so we're going with this one.)
Environment: Any sufficiently snow-blasted arctic waste.

No. Appearing: Roll 1d4. On a 1-2, there's only one. On a 3, there are two. On a 4, there are 1d30. It also appears whenever two players say the same thing at the same time.

What are they doing: Either a) Striking a pose, standing perfectly still. They will not budge as long as you're looking unless you come within arms reach. b) Dancing around, making this noise. Save versus spells or be drawn to look closer. c) Following you at a distance, watching. It seductively wiggles its hips as it walks.

AC As chain + shield, or as unarmoured + shield if attacking the hair
HD 2+1
Intelligence Average to above-average (9-14)
Languages Its own, which sounds like the noise linked above.
Movement Slow, graceful, yet distinctly inhuman
Kiss - It will target the character with the highest Charisma first, or the one who has been kindest to it. A Jynx does not distinguish between sexes. The effect of a Jynx's kiss varies. Roll 1d6:
     1 - 3: Save vs spells or become infatuated with the Jynx as per charm person. You can understand its babbled instructions but cannot speak its language. The Jynx's directives are usually either a) subdue your friends, b) kiss your friends, or c) dance.
     4 - 6: Save vs spells or fall asleep for 1d6 hours. Since these are likely to appear in cold places, the DM is encouraged to enforce whatever freezing rules apply (keeping in mind that the body produces less heat when sleeping).

A character who has succumb to a Jynx's kiss has a d20% chance of seeing the Jynx in its dreams. The Jynx sees them too. The % chance is reduced by 1 every night.

Confusion - If a character does not appear to be succumbing to kisses a Jynx may use this mental attack. It deals 1d6 psychic damage and the target saves versus spells or becomes confused as per the confusion spell cast by a 10th-level Magic-User. A Jynx may use this power once a day. If you use psionics this is some kind of psionic attack.

Slap - 1d4 damage, but a Jynx will not use this unless the character attempts to harm it and does not succumb to kisses or confusion.

A Jynx's interests are to lure in victims, take thralls, and survive.

When all victims are charmed, sleeping, or dead, the Jynxes will whisk the charmed victims away. No one has ever seen where they are taken and lived to tell the tale.

A Jynx who sees a kiss-victim in their dreams will come find them the next day. There is a 50% chance it will bring 1d20 friends.

The Hair
This video reveals the Jynx's true nature:

Notice how when it faints the body disappears; only the hair remains. This is because the body is actually a psionic projection of the true creature: the hair. The body is not quite an illusion - it occupies actual space and the victims of a kiss will feel its cold, slimy lips against their skin, but a sword will seem to swish through the folds of its extravagant dress without cutting. The actual Jynx is not an uncanny feminine apparition but rather yellow, tentacular, and starfish-like. Any character who catches on to this and targets the hair directly has a better chance to hit.

If a Jynx is ever killed or knocked unconscious its false body will disappear.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Let's Go Camping

A while ago I raised the question on G+ about how you might bring something like Darkest Dungeon's Camping Actions into a tabletop RPG. I really like the idea of having a portion of play set aside to talking about how characters are unwinding - or not - after a hard day of adventuring. It seems like a wonderful beat to add to the adventuring day. So I've spent a lot of time thinking about it. Here's what I've come up with:

See this? This is what bliss looks like.
When the PCs set up camp for the evening, each player chooses one of the following:

Cook  Use up a fine ingredient per 2 characters: Everyone regains 1 HP.* Halflings may use up an extra ration instead.
Forage. Roll under Int: On a success, find edible or useful plants. DM rolls this in secret, so be careful, you might wind up with poison.
Guard. In case of random encounter, party gets an additional roll against surprise for each guard.
Hunt. Go looking for animals to eat. Look out – you might have to fight it.
Medicine. Roll under Wis: Restore 1 HP to an injured target. Must have a healing kit. Clerics pass automatically.
Scout.  Learn some information about the surrounding area. Each group of Scouts gets a new piece of information – but also checks for encounters independently.
Perform  Roll under Charisma. All characters Relaxing get a 5% bonus to XP gained.
Pray  A Cleric may attempt to change their Liturgy**
Relax  Add XP for the day’s adventuring. If you have enough to level, it happens when you wake up.
Repair  Roll under Int: Mend a sundered shield or weapon.
Study  A Wizard may make an attempt to learn a spell from a scroll or spellbook.
Train  Add +1 to any 1 roll tomorrow.

* This is for a low-HP, slow recovery game, where the difference between regaining 1, 2, or 3 HP in the course of a night might be quite significant.
** A thing for my game - Clerics have a spell that's "always prepared" - they can cast it instead of a spell of the same or lower level. This is on top of being able to turn any slot into a healing spell. Since you're probably not using these, you might allow them to regain a single 1st-level spell slot?