Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mystery of the Burned One, part 1

Thanksgiving weekend has bestowed some extra time upon me. I've done some solo gaming, finishing a couple of items, one of which was long overdue. I'm posting the next part in my Drowsbane campaign with questions 1-3. This one is “Mystery of the Burned One”. The ending is so-so, but I wanted to wrap it up.

Happy Thanksgiving all!

An FU rpg, 9Q, and Forgotten Realms mash-up. This is the fourth in a series of solo games entitled, “Last of the Drowsbane”.

Our Protagonist:

Tengrym Drowsbane
aka Veldis of Thentia
Descriptors: Veteran Mage, Swordplay, Perceptive, Principled
Gear: Enduring Elf-blade, Light Elf-corselet
FU Points: 1
Conditions: ☑ Injured

Heroic Motivation: Tengrym had defeated the demon, Egelrenardruth with the help of Elminster and the Knights of Myth Drannor. This led to the destruction of the Stone of Baolnor, which they two had been seeking. On their adventure, the brothers encountered a mysterious scarred man who worked to protect the resting place of the tablet and was suspected to be kin. Now, Tengrym has set out alone to track the man to piece together the mystery and perhaps learn more about the prophecy.

NPC Personalities

Anoris Shandorin
A fighter/mage like Tengrym, burned and scarred, a former Drowsbane member and now in the service of the drow.

Descriptors: Veteran Mage, Swordsmanship, Cunning, Disfiguration
Gear: Protective Ring, Intelligent Sword

Aurous Eagle-sighted
Half-elf constable
Descriptors: Veteran Ranger, Eagle-sighted, Archery, Bigoted
Gear: Camouflaged Scale Mail, Cold Leg Irons

Deepingdale Militia (Squad)
Descriptors: Warriors, Homemade Long Bow

Lord Thormemnon
Descriptors: Expert Orator, Naive


Dark Elf (Squad)
Descriptors: Drow Warriors, Magic Resistant, Athletic, Creatures of the Dark, Innately Magical
Gear: Adamantium Weaponry, Poisonous Darts

Dark Elf Sorcerer
Descriptors: Veteran Sorcerer, Magic Resistant, Innately Magical, Emaciated
Gear: Heart of the Stone Man

Minor Earth Elemental
Descriptors: Veteran Monster, Tough, Mindless, Stuff of the Earth

Q1b. Be the PC — pursuit, infiltration

1 Kythorn, Year of the Shadows

The next day, Tengrym bid his farewells to Jhael and Thedric and quietly slipped out of the Old Skull Inn. He was still very much in pain, and the matron of the house warned the half-elf that it was too soon to seek the road. Despite magical healing, any travel now was likely to reopen wounds.

Can he afford a horse? No, but…

Tengrym thanked her for her care and hospitality, and packed his few things to depart. He tried to bargain for an old nag, but hadn’t the coin enough. However, farmer Foalsnurse loaned a sturdy charcoal mare named Acanthus. “You’ll bring her back safe and sound,” the farmer said knowingly. Touched by the generosity, Tengrym tried to protest, but Foalsnurse would have none of it.

Grateful, Tengrym left southward immediately. By the first of Kythorn, marked by heavy rainstorms, a weary half-elf plodded into Highmoon in southern Deepingdale and sought the Rising Moon, a rowdy establishment off of Crescent Way. Weary and many shades of sore, he entered the place and inquired about the mysterious scarred half-elf, giving his description. Highmoon was the largest town near the Thunder Peaks where Tengrym had first encountered him. It stood to reason that it may have been the best place to re-provision for someone working in the wilds of the mountain vale; and chances were that someone would have taken notice of an unforgettable face.

Does he learn something? Yes…

It wasn’t long before Tengryn got his confirmation. “Aye, I’ve seen him here,” said an old coot. “Disfigured man, raspy voice, elf-blooded….”

It turned out that the man in question was seen at odd intervals in town, even in that very inn. Tengrym thanked the man for the news and paid him five silver. Then, he rented a room for the night and considered his next move.

Be the GM

Scene: dark elves pay the hero a visit at night

Is Tengrym alerted by their presence? [+Perceptive, -Unconscious, -Creatures of the Dark] Yes…

Late that night, after he was already fast asleep, some deep unconscious voice warned Tengrym of danger. He woke with a start and heard soft movement near the lock of his door. He stole out of bed and drew his magical blade.

Be the PC Again

Does he take them by surprise? [-Creatures of the Dark] No, but…

He waited for the door to slowly open a fraction. Slowly a figure entered as Tengrym watched from behind the door. The lurker spied movement from the corner of his eye, but the half-elf had the tactical advantage for the moment. Little could have prepared for the sight of utter black garments, stark white hair, and red, almond-shaped eyes. It was the drow! And there were more in the hallway.

Does Tengrym beat them back? [+tactical advantage] Yes, and…
☑ Confused

A word of magic and a overhanded feint meant to overbear, and a bright light flashed, blinding the intruder and two accomplices. The dark elf cried out and put up his dark blade defensively as Tengrym lashed out and hacked. He cut down one and fought back the others, securing the door with a spell to hold it.

Using the moments of confusion, Tengrym snatched up his belongings and escaped out the window.

Does he escape? [+Confused] Yes, and…

He walked along the eves and escaped, alighting on the floor below, and detecting no sign of pursuit behind him. How quickly he had drawn attention astonished him — and these were dark elves! It looked as though if he were to get any rest, he wouldn’t get it where it was known he was quartering.

Q2. Be the GM — intrigue, pursuit

Scene: In the morning, the constabulary goes on a manhunt, tracking Tengrym in a glade

Does he hear their approach? Yes, but…

2 Kythorn, Year of the Shadows

Tengrym awoke to the sound of whispers and the soft swish of blades of grass at the passing of stealthy forms. He had selected a shaded area just beyond a little glade near a fresh gurgling brook. He quickly snatched up his pack and sword, but did not hear the approach in time to conceal himself. A group emerged from the trail headed by a tall reddish haired man with clearly elvish blood wearing scale armor and soft forest greens and earth browns. The archer led an ill-equipped group of men with bows. The group stopped having spotted Tengrym tense and ready to bolt. Immediately, arrows were nocked and pulled to ear.

The half-elf leader stopped before the others, holding out his hand with a staying gesture to the men behind him.

“I am Aurous, constable of Deepingdale,” he said in a deep voice. “We seek one Veldis to answer for disturbances at the Rising Moon last night. Be you he?”

Be the PC Again

Tengrym’s mind swam with possibilities. He didn’t want to flee now for fear of implicating himself in something that was not his fault. He did wish to speak with the authorities regarding the dark elf night raid, but he didn’t want to place himself under arrest for endangering any townsfolk or causing damage.

“I am he,” Tengrym said. At least they used his alias. “I will come peacefully to speak with the lord of Highmoon.”

Be the GM Once More

Since Tengrym came peacefully, Aurous let him walk alone. However he asked him to surrender his weapons. The Drowsbane saw the deadly intent in the eyes of the militiamen.

“You have my word that I shall cause you no harm,” Tengrym said in answer. “Unless you are charging me as an outlaw of some sort, I shall keep my sword — sheathed — at my side.”

Does Tengrym convince Aurous to let him keep his arms? No…

“That cannot be, sir,” Aurous answered gravely. Leg irons hung at his side. “I have my orders.”

Before he took a step forward, Tengrym tensed. He prepared himself mentally for flight, although his body was still sore from his ordeal less than a tenday before.

“If you threaten to take me against my will or take my sword, be prepared for a tough fight,” he said, “unless you can lay charges against me.”

Does his firm stance change anything? [+Principled] Yes, but…

Aurous stared for long moments with a hard challenge in his grey eyes. “Very well,” he said at last. “But if you make any sudden moves, you will know how a pincushion feels.”

After the showdown, Tengrym went peacefully with Aurous and his contingent.

Q3. Be the GM — betrayal, revelation

Scene: Tengrym is brought to a well-fortified manse outside the actual town of Highmoon to meet the current lord, a young and naive man named Thormemnon.
Personalities: Using the NPC 9Qs, I determine the following about lord Thormemnon. His role and homeland are obvious, and he’s naive; but for his talent, I rolled: ; an orator!

Tengrym was escorted back toward Highmoon. Rather than follow the main road directly there, the group took a rural road north a half mile from the town gate and climbed a wooded ridge. There, amid noble furs and broadleaf trees was a sprawling manor house. Stone walls and turrets about the house made it quite defensible, and access was limited to a causeway that climbed up a rocky point that jutted above the smaller trees. The place was guarded by grim-faced men in mail with spear and bow.

Entering a large bailey, a group of armsmen challenged Aurous. The half-elf ranger asked to see the lord. Near a fountain, a young man in rich velvet finery and foppish hose answered. “I am here, master Aurous. Have you brought the outlaw for questioning?”

Tengrym blistered at the arrogance and inexperience of a young lad barely out of his teens. The boy’s face was framed in page-length blonde hair and his blue eyes were cold and calculating, yet did not belie the true youth and naïveté about him.

“I have, Lord Thormemnon,” answered Aurous. Tengrym could not help but mark the veiled irritation in his throat.

“I see he is yet armed! Guards! Guards!” called the young man, who looked as though he might very well melt from mortification.

“My lord,” interrupted Aurous with more irritation. “He came peacefully as we asked.”

Four mailed men came to stand guard about the young lord. “Very well,” he said, trying to make it sound very much like a proclamation. “What is your name, sir?” he asked, addressing Tengrym directly.

“I go by Veldis, my lord,” he answered cooly. “…of Thentia.”

The youth regarded the half-elf for some time, almost unsure what to say next. “I see, I see. Tell me, Veldis, did you cause the deaths of five men at the Rising Moon last night? Answer quick!”

Be the PC

Tengrym’s eyes flashed in shock. Deaths of men? What is this fool boy talking about? he wondered to himself. “What men do you speak of?” he stammered, unsure of what words to pick.

Seeing Tengrym flustered, the young lord’s face darkened. “Five good men lost their lives in the inn last night…their throats cut as they slept in the common room. There was disarray near your room, and someone had left by the window to escape through the night like a coward!”

Tengrym now saw the cunning trap he now was on the verge of triggering. The drow raiders must have certainly silenced any possible watchers before their approach to his room. If he were now to tell the full tale, it would bring to attention his true name, and thus draw more possible trouble. He wished not to reveal himself, especially in light of finding the mysterious burned man who had guarded the demon’s lair in the Thunder Peaks.

However, seeing no other immediate solution, and also wishing to alert the locals of a possible threat in their midst — perhaps even a dire one — he spoke.

“During the night, I was assailed,” he began, and truthfully told the tale of his sudden nighttime fight and flight. “It was clear to me that my safety was not assured in Highmoon,” he summarized. “I see now my error in judgment to not first seek the authorities. But had I known that others’ safety was at stake, my actions would have been entirely different — and at my own peril.”

Be the GM Once More

The young lord pursed his lips and pressed his fingertips together, trying to appear wise and thoughtful. “So you say, so you say. Yes, well, then you must remain in my care until my men have had a chance to investigate the matter further. Guards, disarm him and place him in custody.”

The men tensed, as did Tengrym. The half-elf put up a staying hand. He did not yet draw his sword. Aurous cast questioning looks between lord Thormemnon and Tengrym.

“Wait!” said the Drowsbane. “I came in good faith — peacefully — and by my own volition. I will yet stay in town and you may summon me when it pleases you, my lord. Yet, I will not allow myself to be bound against my will, or my blade taken from me without further grounds to lay such charges upon me. Do not do this!”

Does he shake the lord’s resolve? [+principled, +naive] Yes, and…
☑ Humiliated

The face of the young lord blanched as though he was just scolded by his stern father with a slap on his rump. His face turned red and his jaw worked wordlessly. Tengrym turned and began walking away.

“You may send word to me at the Rising Moon,” he said over his shoulder.

No one stepped forward to intercept him.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Epic Playtest, "The Bird of Wisdom", part 2

“Bird of Wisdom”
the conclusion of my Epic (Mythic D6 Lite Variant) playtest.


Setup: Strold returns to Ravenhall to find warriors turned against him
Chaos Factor: 1
Altered? 3, 1, 6, 6, 3, 1 (“Interrupt Twist”)
Twist Scene Focus: NPC negative (Eohric)
Meaning: elephant, marshal’s badge
Interpretation: Ravenhall has been overrun with imperials with war machines, and prince Eohric has escaped with a few followers

Is the imperial army still present? (Very Likely) 5, 4, 3, 4, 6, 4, 1, 6 (“Yes, and…”)
Interpretation: they have wandering patrols set to chase down escaping villagers with nets*

Imperial Troops
Foot Soldier [+2], Well-Equipped [+2]

The journey was long and painful, and it was late into a second day when Strold made his way back to Ravenhall. During the time, there was no sign of Idraf. Strold had no notion of whether or not the raven clan tracker had already found the root and returned to his prince.

Perhaps because he was weary from the ordeal; whatever the case, he missed the plumes of black smoke until it was too late. Ravenhall had been attacked!

Just as his senses returned, he heard the clank of armor as a pack of six lobster-mailed southern imperial legionnaires with spears and nets. “There’s one!” one shouted, pointing toward Strold. Although the hawk clan hunter knew not their strange tongue, he understood their meaning well enough. Normally, he might turn and run. However, honor and pride for his family welled within him, and he wished nothing more than to kill as many spiritless cowards of the stone cities before he himself could be killed.

The six fanned out. So quickly, Strold pulled fletching to ear and felled two iron suits as they closed. Snarling, he dropped his bow and slit the throat of another with his long knife before he was enmeshed. As he fought and snarled like a caged beast, the remaining three pounced on him, beating him until he knew no more.


CF: +1
NPCs: Prince Hagar, Prince Eohric, Idraf
Open Threads: Return the Bird of Wisdom to Hagar, Get Eohric to tell the whereabouts of Tazor’s Temple, Escape the legionnaires! Find Eohric


Setup: Strold is placed with other captured Barbarians before transport as slaves to the Empire
Chaos Factor: 2
Altered? 1, 4, 4, 2, 1, 2, 3 (“Interrupt Twist”)
Twist Scene Focus: NPC positive (Hagar)
Meaning: camera, bumping bottle
Interpretation: Hagar’s men have prepared an ambush for the slave train, and conditions are just right.

Strold found himself rudely doused with water and mercilessly handled. Leg irons on and placed inline with other savagely beaten and bloodied men, a slave train set out to the Empire. Women and children were placed in cages drawn by great beasts. The sun beat down, and Strold’s head swam as they made their slow painful way through the plains into low hills. The hunter could not understand any snatches of conversation whenever any legionnaires approached. Most threw insults and laughed at the weapon less warriors. Worse ones kicked dirt or shoved a man to the ground upon passing.

Does the ambush fail to free the group? (Somewhat Unlikely) 5, 3, 5, 6, 4, 5 (“No, but…”)
Does Strold encounter small resistance? (Very Likely) 5, 5, 6, 2, 4, 1, 3, 5, 6 (“Yes…”)

Suddenly, war cries were heard as two groups of assailants at the crowns of two hills flanking the train launched an ambush. They were prince Hagar’s men. In the distraction, only two men stayed nearby while the rest formed defensive lines to protect their flanks. Strold took advantage of the chaos. He knocked into the nearest, sending him down and kicking him unconscious. Another he took a swipe at, but was restrained by his chains. The warrior drew a short blade and lunged. Strold rolled aside with effort, nearly falling. He kicked the legs out from under the legionnaire and wrapped his chai around the man’s throat, choking the life out of him.

Does one of them have keys? (50/50) 5, 6, 4, 4, 4, 6, 1 (“Yes, and…”)

The man at his feet had a ring of keys hanging from his belt. Strold snatched them and undid his irons and as many of the others as he could before attracting attention. He also saw his bone knife and bow in a basket on one of the wagons nearby. He snatched these and sought a path of escape.

Does he have many to face? (Very Unlikely) 5, 6, 4, 2, 5, 2, 6 (“Yes, and…”)
Interpretation: he’ll have to face 3d6 (10) and decide whether to ruin chances of escape by choosing to deal with a warrior about to kill escaping women. (For this, I used a Story Hook generated off of Strold’s “Honorable” Quality as per the Jaws of the Six Serpents rules.)

There was one avenue of escape open — now the alarm was sounded, and nearly a dozen warriors turned to impede the fleeing prisoners. One man bounded after several unarmed women. Weapon raised, he prepared to hack the nearest down. Strold pulled leeching to ear and released. The arrow dropped the man, but now his only route of escape was crowded with a mass of plated southerners.

Are there any friendly warriors left to stand next to Strold? (Somewhat Unlikely) 1, 2, 3, 5, 4, 2 (“Yes, but…”)

Against the handful of armored enemies was one other clansman who had picked up a short sword. Strold was set on evening the odds. As fast as he could reach them, the hawk clan hunter let fly a hail of barbed death. He dropped another before they closed, then drew his knife. One smashed a gauntleted hand into his head. His one and only ally was immediately cut down, and then six of them swarmed him.

He fought fiercely, determined to die with honor. He found joints in armor or cleaved at exposed flesh, one by one, his enemies fell until there were but two. Strold bled from a dozen wounds and he sucked in huge gulps of air. However, the fight and rebelliousness never left his eyes. With a primal scream, he leapt forward like a great cat defending its pride, keeping no strength in reserve.

By some boon of the gods, Strold vanquished his foes. Already, Hagar’s force began to pull back as the numbers and armament of the enemy was too great. Delirious and weak from loss of lifeblood, Strold staggered after his kin.

Do any aid him? (Very Likely) 4, 3, 1, 4, 6, 3, 6, 5, 2 (“Yes, and…”)

He felt strong arms around him pulling him up the hill to safety. He knew not what happened next…


CF: +1
NPCs: Prince Hagar, Prince Eohric, Idraf
Open Threads: Return the Bird of Wisdom to Hagar, Get Eohric to tell the whereabouts of Tazor’s Temple, Find Eohric
Closed Threads: Escape the legionnaires!

Note: After this far, I’m noting that the bonus dice for determining Twists is a bit too wild. When lots of dice are in play, it seems the probabilities are up. Instead, I’ll try this mechanic: two dice from any roll will be of a different color. The colored pair will be the “Twist Dice”, and are always included as a part of any roll (but are not desperate from any Fate Question roll). If they come up doubles with a value ≤ [CF + 1], a Twist is produced.


Setup: Strold finds refuge with his kin and has the chance to learn news, perhaps even Eohric’s whereabouts
Chaos Factor: 3
Altered? 5, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1, 2, 2 (“Interrupt Twist”) (Note: the last two dice shown are always the “Twist Dice”)
Twist Scene Focus: PC positive
Meaning: ID card, bandits
Interpretation: The escaping clansmen encounter rival clansmen and join forces

Is anyone present who has healing ability? (Somewhat Likely) 1, 4, 4, 4, 5, 4, 1, 5, 4 (“Yes, and…”)*
*Twist Produced: PC negative
Meaning: treasure chest, listening to headphones (ignoring)
Interpretation: (also incorporating the Story Hook of “Bring Honor To His Family”) among the rivals is a hawk clansman and cousin of Strold who stole from his father and fled

What did Dykhor steal? (Open) waves
Interpretation: a crystal vessel — sacred objects to each clan; Strold’s father is a headman with some religious significance; such slight is considered grave

As soon as was possible, Strold and the other wounded were laid down in a wooded area where they could rest. One of the ambushers was skilled in herb lore and healing and attended them, starting with Strold, who had lost the most blood.

Is Hagar himself among them? (50/50) 4, 1, 5, 3, 2, 6, 2, 3 (“Yes…”)

Prince Hagar was among the skirmishers. He spoke with Strold, inquiring about his quest. The hunter reported the unfortunate news.

Does Hagar know where Eohric is now? (50/50) 4, 6, 6, 6, 6, 4, 3, 6 (“Yes, and…”)
Where is he? (Open) scary shadow, laughing

To Strold’s satisfaction, Hagar reported the prince was last seen with his followers seeking sanctuary in the Vale of the Laughing Spirits — a place so haunted and vile, even the imperial legionnaires refused to pursue them there. The report did not seem to daunt the hunter.

As the group talked, a man shouted a warning. Suddenly, outlaws appeared around them. The ambushers became the ambushed! Weapons were drawn and curses flew.

It was none other than Aghar Redhand, an outcast rebel and his motley crew of godless folk. Parley was made, and it turned out Aghar and his band had skirmished with the imperials as well. A reluctant decision was made to band together, which was good because both sides had lost men, and survival was dependent upon mutual reliance.

However, such alliance was not to be.

All was well until Strold eyed a particular member of the outcasts. Dykhor, formerly of the clan of the hawk, had a particularly nasty past involvement with Strold’s house — one that could not be forgotten — nor forgiven.

Despite his wounds, the fires of rage lit within the hunter’s gut. With the ferocity of a lion, he leapt up and launched himself at the rogue.

Does Hagar intervene? (Very Likely) 3, 5, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 5, 3, 5 (“No, but…”)

Strold was atop Dykhor, beating him savagely. Hagar did not immediately react, as he too had deep issues with Aghar that were difficult to immediately dismiss. It was the bandit chief and his men who pulled the two apart.

“You have yet to atone for what you did, Dykhor,” Strold swore.

Does Strold’s rage and the two groups' rivalry escalate? (50/50) 3, 6, 1, 6, 2, 1, 2, 6 (“Yes, and…”)

From somewhere, an arrow flew and struck a man dead. In mere moments, weapons were bared and screams of hatred erupted. Men of both groups now fought mortally.

Strold, too, looked down in horror as Dykhor’s dagger plunged into his heart. Dreams of Barbaria’s glory against the Empire fled…and it became clear that steel and stone were not needed to defeat the northern clansmen…their own purposeless malice and rivalry made them weak enemies. Had a greater vision overpowered their pride, the emperor might have had great difficulty conquering the north.

The End.


This was a good working out of issues that have come up...the convoluted language of how twists are obtained and implemented are smoother and have improved. Here is the second draft of Epic:

Chaos Factor

The Chaos Factor ranges from 0 to 4 starting with 0. As the CF raises and lowers, it increases the number of die in the pool, slanting to “Yes”. The CF always contributes to the possibility of a positive Fate Question result (see below).

Fate Questions

This version utilizes d6’s. Note the following results and success counting method:

5Yes, and…
3Yes, but…
2No, but…
0No, and…

To use the chart, frame a closed question. Always frame it with a “Yes” indicating the most interesting result (this may not lead to the most beneficial outcome for the protagonists). Roll a number of dice (5 base dice +/– Odds dice + CF) and compare the best/worst rolls to the chart above, counting evens/odds. Always roll a minimum of five dice. Note also that the CF is always positive. Include extra dice according to the following:


+1Somewhat Likely-1Somewhat Unlikely
+2Very Likely-2Very Unlikely
+3Sure Thing-3No Way

Roll the dice pool and select from it a “hand” of five dice, counting out the first five most advantageous (evens) or disadvantageous (odds) depending on whether the odds favored a positive or negative result. Two dice from the pool should be a different color than the rest. As a special case, if five is the number of dice to be rolled after calculating the odds, always roll one additional die if the CF is current set greater than 0. Again, since CF dice are always positive, always interpret with the appropriate position.

Fate questions are used within a scene to emulate a GM’s presence, running the minutiae of the NPC actions and reactions, or determine what elements, obstacles, or conditions are in play. Open questions can also be framed by asking any sort of question followed by one or two Rory’s Story Cubes or other random image/word combination. Interpret the random results to attach a relevant meaning within the context of the question.


Twists may be introduced mid-scene based on the result of a Fate Question roll. Note that success counting is based on number of evens/odds rolled during framed questions. Always examine the two colored “twist dice” from every Fate Question roll. If these dice produce a matching pair, compare their value (ie “1” if a pair of 1’s are rolled) to the CF. If the value of this “twist dice” matching pair is equal to or less than one more than the Chaos Factor, then a twist is produced.

Example 1: with a CF of 0, and positive odds of “Very Likely” (a total of 2 bonus), Brian rolls 7 dice. He gets a 2, 6, 3, 1, 1, 2, 1, and thus a “Yes, but…” result on his Fate Question. Noting that the last two values are black, representing “twist dice”, they fail to produce a Twist.

Example 2: Brian asks another Fate Question, determining “Very Unlikely” Odds and yielding two negative dice to his base five dice. The Chaos Factor in this case is 2 (always positive). Since positive and negative cancel one another out leaving only the five base dice, Brian remembers the special case of adding one more positive dice, since there is a CF value greater than zero. He also ensures that he’s rolling four white dice and two black. He rolls 2, 3, 4, 6, 3, 3, counting out the four evens and getting a “Yes, but…” result. Brian identifies the matching 3’s of his black “twist dice” (the last two rolled). The value, 3, is ≤ [CF + 1], so that’s a Twist.

Twist Interpretation

Roll d6 and consult the following chart to get the “focus” of the event:

1Protagonistpositive or negative
2Remotepositive, negative, or ambiguous
3Introductionfacilitator, complicator, or ambiguous NPC
4NPC Actionpositive or negative
5Threadtoward, away, or close

To get the more specific random meaning of the focus, roll one or more Rory’s Story Cubes or obtain random image/words by whatever means are at one’s disposal. Alternatively, simply abandon the d6 focus roll and instead roll two Story Cubes to get an event meaning. The first image gives a vague notion of the context of the meaning, while the second defines and focuses that context into specifics. Players may wish to draw upon or choose randomly from NPCs introduced or threads established according to logic to refine the event meaning.

Scene Setting

At the start of each scene, a Fate Question is framed to see if the scene plays out as imagined. This is always at not-known (or 50/50) odds. Any sort of “No…” indicates an alteration of the scene (to the next logical one). Using the CF, this may produce an interrupt Twist as outlined above. In this case, the scene frames a wholly new and un-anticipated direction. Remember to include two dice of different color than the others and measure against the value of [CF + 1].

At the conclusion of each scene, note any new threads or NPCs, close any open ones that applied to that scene, if relevant, and mark whether the Chaos Factor escalates or declines, based on whether the scene was controlled by the PCs or not.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Epic Playtest, "The Bird of Wisdom", part 1

“The Bird of Wisdom”

A simple playtest based on the plot description found here.


For this playtest, I will make use of Tim Gray’s Jaws of the Six Serpents. I won’t illustrate the details of that system too much, but rather use it because it is so relevant to the interesting plot hook discovered here:

“A wise bird travels to the prince with nothing but a primitive country.”

The stone-age tribes of Barbaria have united under a single king to resist the invasion of the Evil Empire, but are no match for the Empire’s steel weapons, stone fortifications, and other advanced technology. However, in a distant temple there exists a miraculous bird that speaks the words of the gods of craft and wisdom. If the bird could be brought to Barbaria, it could teach the people the arts they need to fight the Empire. The king will not hear of it; he is too stubborn and proud, and would prefer to die fighting in the old ways. His son is more receptive, though. All that remains is to actually get the bird to the prince…

What we know about our hero is that he was raised from simple stock… A proud clan of hunters. He has a temper when angered and a streak of luck that often follows him around. As such, he was selected to be one of the lone heroes in search of the bird. It is Strold’s hope that by bringing the coveted mystic animal, he will raise his family’s honor in the eyes of his king.

Strold Farflinger

Faculty: Average [0] Favor of the Gods*
People: Expert [+4] Hawk Clan Hunter
Driver: Good [+2] Bring Honor To His Family
Good [+2] The Leopard’s Agility
Good [+2] Powerful Like a Jaguar
Good [+2] Honorable
Good [+2] Knows the Wilds Like the Back of His Hand
Poor [-2] Honorable

Fortune Points: 2
Learning Points: 1

* Favor of the Gods — downshift to gain an upshift to represent luck for one action


Setup: Strold meets the prince in his tent outside of Hunter’s Hill
Chaos Factor: 0
Altered? 1, 5, 5, 6, 4 (“No, but…”)

Strold was asked to meet Prince Hagar after a major defeat at Winding Water against the imperial army that devastated another alliance of clans. Here, the hunter learned of the legendary Bird of Wisdom hidden within Tazor’s Temple.

Does the prince know where the temple lies? (50/50) 5, 4, 4, 5, 1 (“No, but…”)

Strold listened to the distraught prince. When asked, Hagar did not know where the temple lay.

Who knows? (Open) fighting pair, crossroads

Inquiring more and at a loss, the prince said to Strold, “You may ask my mother’s kinsman, Eohric. He is prince of the raven clan. It is said he knows Tazor’s Temple, but he will not willingly give up its location — especially if he knew our design. For he would see us perish and step among the ashes to see himself supplant my father as king of all of Barbaria.”

He instructed Strold that only by a worthy challenge would Eohric give up what he knows of the place. Thanking the prince, the great hunter gathered his bow, hunting knife, and skin of wine and departed for the holdings of the clan of the raven.


CF: +1
NPCs: Prince Hagar, Prince Eohric
Open Threads: Return the Bird of Wisdom to Hagar, Get Eohric to tell the whereabouts of Tazor’s Temple


Setup: Strold arrives at the raven’s holdings and seeks out Eohric to extract info
Chaos Factor: 1
Altered? 4, 3, 1, 5, 5 (“No…”)

What are the raven’s lands like? alien face, cauldron

Far beyond the front lines of the war, beyond the Tsuk Wastes and the Twisted Forest was the lands of the clan of raven. Known for its strange sorcerous witches that walked openly among the clansmen and their dark rites and sacrifices, the Raven Plains were cloaked in mystery and strangeness.

Strold arrived at Ravenhall, the winter residence of Eohric and his folk. He inquired to see the prince straight away.

Does he encounter any resistance?(Somewhat Likely) 6, 4, 5, 1, 4, 5, 1 (“Yes, but…”)
What kind? (Open) apple, digging hole

Eohric’s banner men bade the southerner wait as the prince was still in a rite with his witches, and not to disturb him.

Strold did as he was told and awaited the prince, who finally returned exhausted and downcast. He didn’t wish to speak with anyone of the other clans. Strold decided boldness was in order, and made up a story that his brother had sought the Temple of Tazor for his family based on Eohric’s rumors. Strold said his mission was to recover his body so that their dying father could pass in peace knowing that he would be reunited with his son.

Does Eohric have formidable mental defenses? (50/50) 5, 3, 3, 1, 4, 3 (“No…”)
Using my rpg system, I determine Strold is a convincing liar.
Does Eohric refuse? (Somewhat Likely) 1, 5, 3, 1, 2, 5, 4 (“No, but…”)

In no mood, Eohric dismissed the hunter and turned. Strold pressed his deception and challenged the prince to defend his honor lest he give up the location.

What’s the nature of the challenge? (Open) globe, mushroom

To Strold’s amazement, the prince accepted, naming his terms. He said that in the world, the rarest and most sought-after flora was something known as the witch’s root, a fungal growth with a powerful hallucinatory agent useful in special rites. If Strold could find any before Eohric’s best woodsman and bring back a handful of the stuff, the prince would instruct him about the temple’s location.

Strold agreed, and the next day, he and the prince’s champion would set out to find the stuff.


CF: -1
NPCs: Prince Hagar, Prince Eohric
Open Threads: Return the Bird of Wisdom to Hagar, Get Eohric to tell the whereabouts of Tazor’s Temple, Find a handful of the witch’s root before Eohric


Setup: The hunt — Strold goes on a long journey to find the stuff.
Chaos Factor: 0
Altered? 5, 3, 4, 4, 6 (“Yes…”)
Interpretation: Rather than a long journey, Strold finds a likely place, but is waylaid by “cheating”.

The next day came around, and Strold and the prince’s elite, a man named Idraf set out into the wilds.

What’s Idraf like? (Open) happy face, digging hole, fish
Interpretation: Idraf is deceptive, simple, and unclean
How does Idraf get the jump on Strold? (Open) cracked egg, cave entrance
Interpretation: Idraf leads him to a dangerous place where some dangerous beast’s lair is.

Idraf was a most loathsome man. He smiled with a toothless grin and smelled of ripe sunbaked dead fish. He pushed Strold down mischievously as they set out, laughed and took off, heading with great haste toward a wooded area. Strold picked himself up and followed after. Although when Idraf disappeared in the woods he had a head start, his trail was easy to mark by the experienced hunter.

Are the clues left behind by this beast easy to find? (50/50) 1, 2, 4, 5 6 (“Yes, but…”)
In what form are they? (Open) pushing button, scales

As the hunter followed, he stepped inadvertently into a depression in the ground. He stopped only because of his experience to examine such signs. He noted the huge print of some large beast. It appeared to be of some great clawed lizard. However, the ground here was dry, and the track quite old. Looking around more intently, he found the remains of some prey in a clearing just beyond Idraf’s track. Whatever it was, it had made a meal out of large elk.

Suddenly, laughter alerted Strold, and he set forward after the mischievous Idraf, staying wary of danger. Moving forward after the laughter, the hunter came to a desolate clearing. There before him was a gaping cavern that vented tendrils of steam. All around vegetation was trampled from some great beast. Idraf stood before the cave, tossing in rocks and making great noise. He then bolted away, just as the angry monster charged from its hole.

Giant Lizard

Large [+4]FF, Predator [+4]FFF, Armored Plates [+2]FF, Claws [+2]FF, Fast [+2]FF, Cold-Blooded [-2], Large [-2]

Reacting quickly, Strold first drew and shot an arrow at the beast. It was no use due to the monster’s plated armor around its head. Instead, the hunter turned and fled, pursued by the irate charging lizard. Heart pounding, Strold crashed through the vegetation with the hissing thing close on his heels. Heedless of danger, the hunter leapt across streams and hidden rocky areas amid roots and bramble that threatened to snag him.

After getting tired does the beast continue its pursuit? (Very Unlikely) 1, 2, 2, 1, 1, 4, 3 (“No…”)*
*Twist Produced: remote event — open book, catching butterfly

At last, the lizard stopped in its tracks, too far afield of its lair. With a final hiss, it turned and left.

…in the meanwhile, the ever mistrusting Eohric consulted the wisdom of Erolka, his most capable oracle. The prince wanted to know more about the hunter from the clan of the hawk. “A prophecy surrounds the warrior. Your ascendancy is in jeopardy as long as he is free…”

…meantime, Strold sought for signs of the flora in question. His search was quick as well as thorough, and luck illuminated his path, for he found more steam vents cut into the earth in a boggy area where the rarest fungi tended to lay. At last he found what he was looking for, and delicately cut the stuff from the rock on which it grew.


CF: +1 (because of the cut scene)
NPCs: Prince Hagar, Prince Eohric, Idraf
Open Threads: Return the Bird of Wisdom to Hagar, Get Eohric to tell the whereabouts of Tazor’s Temple
Closed Threads: Find a handful of the witch’s root before Eohric