Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Mask of Khatri, a Perilous Intersections and FU walk-through, part 4

Continued from here is the fourth and final part of my Perilous Intersections walk through, examining the last two scenes of my actual play.

For the sixth scene, since I could think of no Fightback Scenes to try and counter the advances made so far, and since most of the questions were already answered, I jumped right into the final Big Boss Fight phase and final confrontation. I rolled to see if there was a last-minute alteration twist to any of the Big Questions, but rolled a no. It was already twisted enough anyway. No seed is required for this scene.

Relajii had the means to magically whisk Aleena back from her confinement in Turmish. She struggles to keep the mask from him, but is unsuccessful.

Relajii's ultimate plot comes to fruition! Aleena fails to contain the situation, and now is liable for whatever consequences come next.
Next is the optional Aftermath phase. I usually like a good denouement to figure out where the world stands. I think I'll be seeing more of Aleena Salenskar in the future, which makes it all the more integral.

I am next going to examine Solo RPG Voyages' One Cube Challenge, and examine if Aleena can clean up her mess.

Perilous Intersections adventure, a failure for our protagonist. But for us? Lots of fun!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Mask of Khatri, a Perilous Intersections and FU walk-through, part 3

Continued from here is the continuation of my Perilous Intersections walk-through examining scenes four and five.

Leaving off with a rather unwelcome curse that threatens to derail her quest, our heroine goes in search of the death cult leader. Here, I gave him a name, and used my chosen seed for scene four to give a bit of detail about his nature. I decided to give him a serpent-like aspect.

She tosses a point to use a special power and tracks him magically. Aleena is easily surrounded, but demands the mask anyway.

She handily conquers most of the challenges here, all of which were set up to provide a challenge as suggested by the increasing Danger Level. Except being able to capture the fleeing Valdemar, she defeats her opponents. This leaves her in the fictional position to deny a story probe for this scene.

Also, no change in the DL happens here, because there's no movement to either the positive or negative.

In the fifth scene, Aleena's magical compulsion gets her into plenty of hot water in Arrabar due to slaying some officials. This is a long chase scene ending in a confrontation in another land. I posed the challenge of travel inspired by the seed of the undead boatman, which could have derailed her had she not been able to determine his destination.

Confronting her target, I went ahead and posed a story probe just for fun that might turn the whole plot on its head. The answer was affirmative, which meant that the rakshasa who enchanted Aleena is behind the real plot. Even though I had confirmed answers for some of the Big Questions, it is still acceptable to amend them along the way before the Big Boss Fight phase.

Lastly, she causes trouble for herself in Turmish before getting captured there, earning her some points. The Danger Level is already at its highest point, so cannot escalate further. In the next scene, all missing BQ's must get answered, because there is only one seed remaining.

What will happen next? Will she be forced to play the unwitting part in Relajii's nefarious plot? Can she find a means to thwart whatever dark plan he has and free herself from her curse?

The conclusion of this short adventure in my next post...

Monday, February 15, 2016

Mask of Khatri, a Perilous Intersections and FU walk-through, part 2

Continued from here is part two of my Mask of Khatri walk-through for Perilous Intersections.

To set up, it's necessary to generate seeds. I wanted a shorter game, so I chose six. I use Rory's Story Cubes for my idea generator.

Given the character generation, which produced a conflict with Wianar, I went ahead and put his name in the Who position of the plot. This also facilitated my shorter game. And with only six starting seeds, it won't feel like such a panic to obtain three more answers. It was also fine to begin already with some danger (one step up on the DL), and close to the next phase of action.

Here's the first play sheet:

Starting with one of the Big Questions still left the phase in the Something Amiss phase, which targets the PC’s goals rather than the PC herself. I choose the hamster wheel for my scene’s obstacle. I knew Aleena would start by seeking out the last priest of Mystra there to protect and question him. I interpreted this event as a distraction (having Aleena “running in circles”). By the time she dealt with that, her target was already captured by someone. Taking the bait is very much in line with the idea of an intersection — an interpretation that has the potential to push the narrative in a new trajectory.

The action pushed on from naturally from there. But since the heroine was clocked on the head, it denied her being able to pose a Story Probe. I interpreted this as a setback for her, which raised the Danger Level. Although I didn’t have a second BQ yet, I felt justified to moving into the Rears Its Ugly Head phase. There was a good chance that whoever took Iankul would also be interested in Aleena as well.

Onward with scene two:

In this scene, Aleena finds herself a captive. I chose the scary skull (that Fright set of Rory’s Story Cubes is the bee’s knees!). I decided to interpret this as the cult’s scary leader and his countenance granted by his freaky mask. I also mixed up the order of things, so asked the Story Probe first, before jumping to the intersection event.

I came up with a bog-standard goal for the baddies, and got a “Yes” due to adding when to the die throw. Then, having my answer, I knew they were going to sacrifice the two Mystran priests for their nefarious death god.

A daring escape ensued, and I had some fun.

As an aside, FU is wonderful for those times when one really wants to delve more into story, because it really gets out of the way by the virtue of being able to resolve any big action in a single throw of the dice. Perilous Intersections is a bit demanding on the brain, and focusing more on its twists and turns it’s pushing than the system I’m using is helpful. Having said that, any rpg system that allows for twists and turns, like FU or Fate, adds to the experience.

Now I had a new BQ answered, but by implication, it also changed the Who. The subject of the plot was not confirmed by my probe, so is marked “u” for unconfirmed, and is subject to amendment during the Big Boss Fight. With one BQ answered (What) and one amended through guessing and clarification (Who), this balanced the DL, meaning no change for the next scene.

On to scene three:

This scene proved t be all too brief. I chose the tiger for my seed. Interpreting it gave a head scratcher, so I went with my immediate reaction. I knew Aleena wanted to take Iankul out of town for safekeeping and some questioning. However, I felt as though the intersection event had to come first here.

Yep, a rakshasa!

What did he want? First I had to see if Aleena could resist his powers. Nope. She was magically compelled to perform a task for him. The probe is as seen on the sheet. What could it be? I searched the events from before and decided it was that scary mask the leader of the death cult wore (that would eventually be my adventure’s namesake). What did it do and what was its significance? I had to play to find out...

For now, that was enough to deduce that the cult was going to use the mask in some sort of rite to achieve their ends. But why? That remained to be seen. However, it was enough to raise the DL to its highest level. Things were getting difficult for poor Aleena! Also, not being able to act autonomously from her role as stooge for Relajii the rakshasa made life much more difficult.

In my next post, we examine scenes four and five, and things get turned completely upside down...

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Mask of Khatri, a Perilous Intersections and FU walk-through, part 1

It occurs to me that I have very few walk-through AP's for my Perilous Intersections solo plot driver. I whipped up an example using my favorite ultra-lite, FU by Nathan Russell, which I later dubbed Mask of Khatri. In this first part, I simply go through a character generation process.

I love Forgotten Realms. I don't really know why. It's mostly nostalgic familiarity. Anyway, I'll go with this to generate some anchors and hooks. I decided to use the John Fiore's 9Qs NPC generator to fill in some missing gaps.

I recently came across this picture (credit: Jason Chan art):

An awesome piece of art. Off we go...

Aleena Seranskar


Trained by not one, but two of the Seven Sisters in magic, Aleena is a native of Aglarond. Having served there as the Simbul’s personal handmaiden and a caretaker for the Queen’s house, her talents were recognized, and she served under another purpose.

A devout of Mystra, Aleena is also ordained as a member of the Lady of Magic’s clergy. Under that, she learned not only the secrets of the Art, but of the hearts of men, and the corruption that leads them to their folly. During her studies, she vowed to defy and destroy corruption where she found it.

She traveled to the deep south where corruption was great. In the steaming lands south of the Sea of Fallen Stars, she was captured by wemics. There she stayed with the tribe for months and developed a friendship with a massive male lion. Since then, they have been inseparable.

While working in the south, she met others of her cloth. In tandem, they focused on routing out the evil and corruption in places like Chondath. This was no easy task. The power and corruption was deep and old. She was poisoned by her own kind. Tholamin was a traitor and double-agent in the church and the employ of Lord Wianar of Arrabar. She survived the attempt, but she is now an uncompromising loner.

Aleena Today

Her search has now illuminated some sort of death cult in Arrabar that may or may not be connected to the elite’s corruption in the region. However, several others of her order have perished as sacrifices to the deity in question, their remains dumped in the streets at night after their dark rites. Aleena is trying to route out the group and see if it somehow relates to Wianar’s corruption.


Aleena is slender woman of modest height garbed in common clothing. She has dark brown hair and dark eyes, with a pretty-but-plain face. She wears a cobalt blue cloak about her, and has seemingly few possessions. She carries a dagger with her concealed in one boot. She keeps her magical accoutrements in pouches about her belt.


Aleena is bent on the impossible — routing out ages-old corruption that seeks to destroy the world with unwieldy magical power. Currently, she concentrates on the areas of the south, specifically Chondath. She is tireless and unrealistic about her pursuit.


Aleena is seen traveling abroad with her lion, Rovahan. He is the only companion she trusts. However, in cities, she enters usually alone if there is any alarm from the locals. Rovahan is free to roam the outskirts of town biding his time until Aleena emerges. Sometimes, he tracks her by scent at night by stealth.

Her nemesis is Tholamin, a trusted of Wianar who also serves as a cleric of Mystra. Currently, he believes Aleena to be dead. She wishes to keep this notion intact for the time being. Wianar is currently the subject of her investigation.

She has few friends, though the Simbul and Alustriel Silverhand are beloved mentors and friends. They are far away with problems of their own. Aleena has thought to reach out to the Emerald Enclave, whose aims parallel her own (via a different paradigm). She, however, correctly assumes that the Enclave would have trouble taking her as a trusted ally due to their aversion to sorcery and wizardry.

Stat Block

Concept. Lone Adventuring Sorceress-Priestess of Mystra
Descriptors. Willful, Inconspicuous, High Sorcery, Uncompromising
Gear. Concealed Dagger, Rovahan (Massive Male Lion)
Starting FU Points. 3
Conditions. [ ] Angry, [ ] Scared, [ ] Tired, [ ] Trapped, [ ] Blinded, [ ] Hungry, [ ] Dazed, [ ] Injured, [ ] Dying


Options for spending/earning:

gain 1 for notable inconvenient twist
gain 1 for taking a hit
gain 1 for putting leverage on relationships
spend 1 to use a prop for a scene
spend 1 to use a rule-breaking power granted by a concept or a special thing

I'll cover the first three of ten scenes in the next post with images of notes plus my own commentary.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

In and Out of Threshold, part 3

continued from here, Adventure two:

Adventure 2: Return To the Cave of the Vengeful Fish-Men

The next day, our heroes return. First, they stop at the logging camp to inquire if any further signs of aggressive fish folk have been observed. However, it has been relatively quiet.

So, they push on back to the cave. Two more fiendish fish people confront them as they enter, but both Dmetrius and Piotr deal with the two in quick order.

Returning to the last passage that they had not yet investigated, they listen carefully. They would assume the mysterious chopping noise would stop. However, the sounds of chipping still is heard with renewed vigor.

Vlad carefully and quietly slips forward to spy on what is seen ahead. He traverses a very long passage. Along its length, several timbers are laid within. The chipping sound increases in volume. There is also a bright illumination up ahead.

When the ranger peers ahead into the next larger chamber, he sees a network of scaffolds along the walls of the cavern. A multitude of fish folk are at work, laboring with many wheels and cogs.

Two very big and ugly hobgoblin taskmasters are barking at the fish people, snapping a whip to work them harder. A handful of other smaller goblins also assist in bullying the fish people. It is some fiendish labor camp.

Reporting to the others, Sara the Strong wastes no time in charging ahead, screaming a war-cry at the top of her lungs. Her surprise is complete when her battle ax connects with several goblins, flinging them left and right into bloody heaps.

Vlad enters the room next, his wolf charging forward while he releases arrow after arrow. He strikes one of the taskmasters in the neck, but the fiend continues on. When a hobgoblin orders the fish folk to start flinging rocks down at the ranger, he is forced to take cover.

Dmetrius enters next, standing his ground, but taking several nicks and minor wounds. From behind, Piotr watches the action, but a lone goblin sneaks up behind him and grabs him around the neck.

Piotr fights with the goblin, who stabs the wizard in the back. Down on the ground, Piotr is not finished. He quickly draws his own blade, seeing that his quicksilver vials have all skittered from his grasp. In a quick motion, he stabs at the creature, killing it, but not before the goblin's blade simultaneously comes down and slays the wizard.

Only Vlad escapes injury. But finally, the goblins and the hobgoblin taskmasters have all been dispatched. Communicating with the fish people is not easy, but Dmetrius manages to communicate that they are free. With a tense silence, they all file out.

The group is saddened to see the wizard fallen. They rummage through the goblins' bodies, and manage to scrounge up several more coins as well as a fine silver fleece. Dmetrius investigates further, discovering that the machinery is all installed for the purpose of boring a hole into the ground down below. They all wonder, for what purpose?

They bring Piotr’s body back to the church to be buried. Dmetrius feels it’s their next task to contact the church and tell them their findings. Then, perhaps the town officials may investigate further.

Sara, however, goes to the local tavern to sing a song of lament as she goes into her cups. “Oh, how the merry four are now sad three… But now, the crotchety wizard at last is free.”


This was a fun experiment. I never had a chance to rely use the wizard's powers. All of this was randomly determined and interpreted through logic. It all represents about three hours of playing time total, along with note taking, which is pretty fast for me. The downside, as with any PbtA game, all those partial results takes a lot of creative energy...especially for one person.

Will I play more? Probably. It was a nice departure to do everything scribbling on a map and imagining rather than the tedium of prose-esque writing.

Friday, February 12, 2016

In and Out of Threshold, part 2

continued from here, Adventure one:

Adventure 1: Cave of the Vengeful Fish-Men

Our heroes begin their adventure by visiting the local tavern. There, they hear many rumors. One person has lost their gold, snatched out of their hands by some flying monstrosity from the passes. However, they also hear about someone who disappeared from a logging camp north of town. They hear that a man went digging where he shouldn’t have been, and has not been seen since. After his disappearance, there’s been a rash of purported ugly fish-men attacking loggers.

The four friends decide to check out the last rumor. Trekking north, they arrive in the logging camp. Dmetrius asks some of the loggers, and discovers tell of a trail leading to a partially flooded cave. Naturally, the group goes to investigate.

The group quickly finds the trail and follows it along the edge of the river. Some strange fin-like marks in the ground look as though they might be tracks left by some bipedal fish folk.

They enter a glittering cave full of minerals out of which flows some sort of underground river which forms a tributary of the Windrush River. Lighting a torch, they explore into the camper. It is not long before they are met by angry fish people. The group fights as more and more of these things come out of the woodwork. They fare well. However, Vlad loses his bow in the river. The Ranger decides to dive into the water to fetch his bow, but more of the things lurking beneath the surface of the water hold him down. It is with the help of mighty Sara that he is able to come out of the water. But he managed to keep his bow!

The group follows the only way they can that is not flooded into a seemingly empty room. However, Sara, the barbarian, sinks halfway into a concealed pool of quicksand. She is able to pull her self out with a bit of struggle and the help of her friends.

Two other passages lead from the quicksand room. Down one, Vlad’s wolf, Fang snarls viciously at whatever he smells there. The smell from beyond is horrible. Down the other passage, the group here’s a strange sporadic chopping sound.

They decide to explore the smelly passage with caution.

They descend down a natural staircase into a largish room littered with refuse, and something used as a pallet for sleeping. Old bones of previous meals litter the floor. Dmetrius is standing rear guard, when a huge ogre closes in from behind, trapping them in the room.

Dmetrius tries to defend, but a giant club catches him in the midsection and flings him across the chamber. He crumples. Sara, however, charges with a war cry to avenge her friend. In a single blow, she defeats the ogre.

It turns out that the cleric is still alive, albeit barely. The others do what they can for him, but it is plain that they need to get him back to the church, where healers can tend to him. They search the area, finding a stash of gold and silver, as well as a mysterious grimacing green mask.

They retreat from the cave without any further mishap. Once back in the town of threshold, Piotr takes the mask to a dealer, who seems to recognize the artifact. The dealer claims that a local lord had lost a mask such as this and might pay to have it returned.

Dmetrius is healed, but recalls a dreadful dream when he lay dying that he may in the future be called upon to perform an assassination. And the group goes shopping…

To be continued...

Thursday, February 11, 2016

In and Out of Threshold, part 1

a sandbox game of John Harper’s World of Dungeons rules
random character generation
random dungeon creation through a d6 random generator


Here are the rules I’m considering:
  • I’ll use WoDu’s Die of Fate and a single Rory's Story Cubes die per area generated.
  • I’ll summarize the entire adventure in a few paragraphs, highlighting particular moments.
  • I’ll conduct play by scribbling on a map as I go.

Monsters will have a HD rating, and a mode of attack:
  • weak = 1d6-1
  • moderate = 1d6
  • strong = 1d6+2
  • extreme = 2d6+2

They also may have an armor rating. Multiples of a creature roll a damage die per participant, taking the highest roll. Special abilities are assumed and will make use of partials and misses.

Experience vale (XP) of monsters and hazards are based on the following:
  • 1 HD = 10
  • 2 HD = 15
  • 3 HD = 25
  • 4 HD = 45
  • 5 HD = 75
  • 6 HD = 125
  • 7+ HD = 200

Exhibited special abilities in creatures may bump the value by one or more tiers.

My dungeon generator (a vastly simplified version of one found here) will handle the layout.

When initiating an adventure, first rumors (generated by Story Cubes) will be determined for dungeon location and theme, serving to anchor all future action. Once at the site to explore, roll a Cube for each area. These inspire the sights, sounds, and smells that will give life to the dungeon. The chosen game system will push the fiction forward from there.

Treasure is the source from which heroes earn most of their experience. The presence of treasure is determined if deemed logical, and/or if an effort is made (via avoided trap, monster, search in a logical area). If present, a story cube will determine the form of the treasure. The Die of Fate (d6) will determine its value.
  • 1 = minuscule (1d6 sp)
  • 2 = minor (2d6 sp)
  • 3 = decent (1d6 x 1d6 sp)
  • 4 = abundant (10 x 1d6 sp, plus another item of value)
  • 5 = worthy (10 x 4d6 sp, plus another item of value)
  • 6 = trove (100x 1d6 sp, plus 1d6 other items of value)

If an item of value is rolled (after its nature has been determined by a Story Cube), roll another Die of Fate to determine its value. A treasure roll should be reduced or capped based on the amount of opposition faced during the adventure.

A session must be completed in one go. If the session must end prematurely, the dungeon can be assumed to be fully explored.

The Characters

Only their summaries here, not their full character sheets — all sheets and notes will be handled with actual pen and paper. I've decided to place this in the world of Mystara, right smack in the middle of Threshold, my favorite old school setting from my junior high years.

Dmetrius Lumovich — A local cleric for the Traladaran church. Dmetrius makes inquiries about the death of Aleena Halaran, but secretly seeks reconciliation between his faith and his desire for vengeance.

Piotr Radu-Belovich — Piotr is a childhood friend of Dmetrius, and has become somewhat of a wizard. He desires greater power and knowledge. However, some strange unknown power from the wilds draws him.

Vlad the Wild — A loner and ranger, Vlad has wandered the lands serving as a guide for some time. He travels with his pet gray wolf, Fang. He was once captured by evil elves. He secretly hopes to find and vanquish these troublesome tricksters.

Sara the Strong — An outcast from a mountain tribe, Sara seeks naught but adventure and dominion. Huzzah!

Next… the adventures!