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

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