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.

1 comment:

  1. On second thought, there's no need, I think, to have the extra die when the CF is > 0 when the odds mean rolling five dice. That was only to make sure there was enough dice to increase odds of having a Twist match. With the new method, they're just not necessary.

    Happy Thanksgiving, all!