Monday, May 11, 2015

Powered by FU 2 — “Get Loot!” (Sword & Sorcery), part 1

Here's a solo actual play report of Freeform Universal and Perilous Intersections, featuring Gedric Twoblades, a character concept inspired by this great art by Jason Chan, which I designed for play in the Forgotten Realms. However, this adventure has a strong Sword and Sorcery vibe to it. I started with a simple premise: in Mulmaster, the sorcerer, Ag-morthon, wants an artifact from a rival Blade…Gedric is to fetch it or the sorcerer will direct to him the crime lord, Jornah Kneebreaker, to whom Gedric owes more than money. A little adventure, I call, “Get Loot!”

I have posted few actual play examples of PI, but it's nice to see that some are making use of it. Sophia, over at die heart, is making use of them for her wonderful Dungeon World solo play.


This will use straight-up FU, for the most part, with aspect like play similar to Fate (á la “create an advantage” actions to put details into play). Spending FU points can grant rule-bending powers in the form of unopposed beat-the-odds rolls.

FU points are fed through complications that have sufficient bite to them. Complications may be fed off of particulars in relationships, drives, flaws, or any details or descriptors in play that may be negative.

In dueling matches of import, the back-and-forth is handled by establishing an upper hand detail. Touches can only be scored by having it. It also is a detail that grants a bonus die.

The GM gets FU points per scene based on the current Danger Level (at Disadvantaged or higher level) plus maybe an extra point or two to assign to the main baddie. These points may be spent to alter Beat the Odds rolls, as normal, or spent to create some scene complication, spent to get rid of a negative condition applied to an NPC, or add some negative detail.


PI will guide the action. Five seeds will keep this a short one. Two Big Questions (BQ’s) have answers already, due to how I'm starting this one, but may be altered (treat as unreliable). Other BQ’s could be added if context dictates. That starts this in the Rears Its Ugly Head phase, with a bit more aggression directed particularly at our hero.
What we have so far:

Who? Ag-morthon (made this up for my starting scenario)
What? Wants Farnas Del Unthiley’s magical crystal
Why? (this seems to be my only unanswered question so far)

Our Danger Level starts at the usual place (Advantageous -1).

I also rolled the following seeds (all generated through Rory's Story Cubes): an inferno, digging holes, spyglass, treasure chest, hang from a branch.


Concept: Petty thief or hired sword depending…
Descriptors: deceptive, nimble, thievery, selfish
Gear: sinister eye patch, twin sabers, ceremonial dagger
Starting FU Points: 2
Conditions: ▫️angry ▫️scared ▫️tired
▫️trapped ▫️blinded ▫️hungry ▫️dazed ▫️injured ▫️dying

Description: A cloaked vagabond, two sabers dangling at his hip. Long, stringy hair. Eye patch. Just something not quite right…
Relationships: Me, myself, and I! Never had people too close. Wrenching costs too much more than a night, and the slum lords always want a piece of the action. Screw ’em!
Drive: Jewels, women, and luxury (order depending).


Scene 1. The Job

Gedric had a hangover. Had he dreamt it? No! He remembered the sorcerer’s gaunt face. The instructions were plain — sneak into the tower of some Farn? Farn…Farnas Del Unthiley — a member of the ruling Blades of Mulmaster to get some crystal.

Why should I? Gedric asked silently. Then he remembered…the sorcerer promised that he would deliver him to one Jornah Kneebreaker, a man Gedric truly wished never to see again. Not only he owed the man a substantial sum of money, but he also took something from the crime lord’s soon-to-be-wed that couldn’t be given back. That gave urgency to the job.

He needed food to quell the revolution in his belly — or maybe not. Regardless how he started his day, it was time to get to work.

His first priority was to scope out the habitat of this Farnas fellow — discover its defenses and security. Fortunately, Gedric not only had skills in getting inside secure places, but he also found friends in not-so-friendly places — the type of folk who might know such details.



Concept: Dangerous city on the Moonsea
Descriptors: guarded by day, thieved by night, sprawling, shadowed civic labyrinth

He bumbled about trying to find any locksmith who might be bought that would know the layout and security of Farnas’s place1. His search turned up nothing. He did find out, however, that the ruling Blade resided in a keep on the side of mount Mulmaster2, the more secure quarter where the upper class resided. He had also learned that Del Unthiley was away on business, and was not expected back for two more days. The rogue smiled…

Without good knowledge of the place through sources, he decided to case the joint himself.


Intersection Event: Spyglass

As he set out up the hill, he couldn’t help but notice two dark clad figures shadowing his movements. Savvy to such maneuverings, Gedric decided to turn things around.

He gave the fellows the slip3, and circumnavigated their position, ducking under the flap of a pottery merchant’s stall along a narrow market, and turned the tail on the stalkers. However, they each noted their missing mark and split up. Both being the same in appearance by his quick observation, Gedric arbitrarily chose the leftmost to tail.

The figure wound through the streets, Gedric keeping close, but not too close. The way led him to a run-down looking inn in the merchant’s quarter. Gedric put the hood of his cloak up and entered after. Taking a seat in a shadowed corner, he spied the figure4.


Story Probe


  • Is it Zhentarim agents? No, something else…
The man removed his own hood to reveal a woodsman of some sort. He greeted a similarly garbed man with a full black bristling beard. He thought he could make out, “Did you capture the rogue swordsman?”

“No, he gave us the slip…” answered the first.

“The beast lord tolerates no failure,” said the first in an almost growling voice. “Find him, or face the consequences. Malar guide you!”

The first bowed and removed himself. Gedric felt the hairs at the back of his neck stand. He had never before heard of a beast lord. The fact anyone was hunting for him did not bode well.


Summary Notes

  • Danger Level goes to ‘At Odds (+0)’
  • Gedric gets an FU point
  • seed produced the pursuers
  • story probe failed
  • ‘Who?’ changed tentatively; this also nullifies ‘What?’

Associated Rolls

1 Does Gedric find a relevant source willing to give security details? No, but… [he learns the location]
2 Does he learn interesting gossip about Farnas’s mansion? Yes, and… [that Farnas is away]
3 Does he turn the pursuers into the prey? Yes, but… [they split up]
4 Does Gedric observe his target surreptitiously? Yes… 

Scene 2. Casing the Joint

Not wanting to waste time, Gedric set out again for the Lord’s Quarter on Mount Mulmaster.


Lord’s Quarter

(may be combined with Mulmaster proper)
Concept: Home of the paranoid and corrupt ruling class
Descriptors: vigilantly guarded night and day, formidable walls and gates.

He set back up the path toward the wealthy quarter, choosing a circuitous route to elude any would be followers5. He was furtive, avoiding the sundry street influences, but couldn’t help feeling as though he was being watched. By whom, or from where this gut feeling came, he had no idea.

Next, Gedric set about locating a good spot from which he could observe the manse of Del Unthiley6. He spied a rooftop blind from atop a quiet ruin sitting squat between two other walled establishments. Furthermore, noting the movements of the many patrols about the Lord’s Quarter, they paid the ruin no mind.

He furtively stole across an alley and hopped a low stone wall and made his way up the crumbling building’s facade.

Once in position, he made himself comfortable and gazed out across the road toward the dwelling of Farnas Del Unthiley. He observed some interesting things of note7.


Story Probe

  • Does he note a schedule leaving the place unguarded at night? No, something else…
Throughout his watch, he noted that two pairs of guards circled the bailey grounds in opposing directions. He spotted a growth of trees inside the wall on the far side. He noted that the two pairs, when crossing directly in front of the shrubbery would afford anyone twenty five breaths before they might have a chance to put their gaze at the front of the main building. There was entry through a front door, or on the upper level by way of climbing vines and an overlooking terrace. The upper windows were always dark, appearing that servants worked in the main floor, while the upper story was vacant.

He liked his dry lips, having spent much of the night looking out. Coming down from his perch, it was time to get some rest before putting the plan to action the next night on the eve before Del Unthiley’s return.


Intersection Event: Hang from Branch

As he dropped to the broken flagstones, another black form dropped from a nearby refuge. A lumbering long-armed form followed stealthily after.


Night Beast

Concept: Demonic black gorilla of Malar
Descriptors: cloaked in night, immensely strong, athletic, taloned, vulnerability to the sun
Conditions: ▫️Confused ▫️Dazed ▫️Trapped ▫️Injured ▫️Out of Action

Gedric, lost in his thoughts8, was oblivious of the charging horror at his back and was knocked down with tremendous force. Air blasted from his lungs with a grunt. He struggled to turn on his side and scramble up9. He was too pressed by the black horror looming over him to get on his feet, but had managed to turn and draw his twin sabers.

Gedric frantically worked his blades from his prone position to ward off groping hands10, and managed to buy enough margin to find his feet. The monster before him was hulking. In some primitive simian shape, Gedric had the feeling he faced a savage monster of the deepest jungles of Chult; however, this beast was otherworldly. He could not see the horror under the shadow of the void from whence this thing came.

Backing away11, he tried to find a narrow choke point at an archway that crossed a narrow lane in order to control his movements. The monster came on too swiftly, closing the gap, but opened a gap under its hideously gangly arms as black talons poised to strike. He ripped the unseen flesh open with his offhand blade12 and managed a downward chop with his primary blade as the monster doubled over, finishing it off.

The creature melted into black ichor before his eyes. Though he was alive and prevailed against some demon of the void, Gedric fled in fear and loathing…


Summary Notes
  • DL remains ‘At Odds (+0)’
  • seed produced the pursuing night beast
  • story probe failed
  • no BQ’s added or altered

Associated Rolls

5 Does Gedric loose any would-be followers? Yes, but… [is ▪️watched]
6 Does he identify any possible refuge conducive to spying at the target site in question? Yes, and… [the place is overlooked by guards]
7 Does he gain valuable intelligence of the place that may help him? Yes…
8 Does he observe his pursuer? No, and… [is ▪️prone]
9 Does Gedric get to his feet? No, but… [gets his blades ready for defense]
10 Does he keep the night beast at bay? [1 FU point spent to up the odds] Yes, and… [removes ▫️prone]
11 Does Gedric take advantage of a strategically defensible position? No, but… [the thing opens itself up for attack]
12 Does he take advantage of the creature’s reckless opening? Yes, and… [inflicts ▪️injured and ▪️out of action]

Scene 3. The Interrupted Plan in Action

Gedric had a fitful sleep at best. Thoughts of Jornah making good on his promise and namesake gave him a throbbing sensation in the legs. Then, leering shapes in the darkness of which he is only aware from the revolution in his insides cause him to toss and turn. The day wears on gloomily under thick clouds. Hail pelts from the heavens — as good a time to get to work as any, he mused.

Waiting for nightfall, he moved out by circuitous track again. He felt at any moment, some mobster might jump from the shadows to grab him13. His sense of paranoia made him tense and jumpy. He was sure he heard muffled footsteps behind him. Gedric was quickly loosing his customary roguish cool14. With some half-heard grunt, he took off at a dash, panic pushing to near madness.

He rushed through the empty night streets full of mist, shadows, and malice. Whoever his stalker was, he dogged Gedric’s every step.


Intersection Event: Digging Holes

Gedric backed into a darker alleyway, huddling in the dark against a cold wall. His breath came in short gasps, and fear gripped his heart like solid ice. Suddenly, from the ground came a great black arm. Another seemed to issue from the stone of the wall against which he braced himself. He tried to scream, but another sinuous arm snaked around his mouth. He was swallowed within the shadow itself.

When he could feel once again, he found himself in a cold lightless place. He felt stone under his feet, and his breath echoed against hardened walls. The sound of approaching steps came, along with a bestial snort.


Story Probe

  • Is it the beast lord demanding sacrifice of a surviving son of a dead heroic Ilmater priestess? Yes!
Out of the cold came a hideous deep voice that carried great power and was the embodiment of predatory-inspired fear. Although he could not see, his mind’s eye saw hate-filled monstrous eyes leering hungrily at him.

“You are the bastard son of Shaela Martyrsblood, suffered disciple of Ilmater,” it said. “I know this by the stench of your blood. The veil of unclean ways cannot mask it. You will die tonight during the blood moon…the rite has begun!

Then, the terrible thing was gone. Gedric tried to free himself, but found himself manacled.



  • DL escalates to ‘Disadvantaged (+1)’ — two BQ’s clarified, one BQ answered, plus a setback
  • seed produced the groping demonic things from shadow drawing aged rid into shadow
  • story probe succeeded producing interesting character backstory and impending issue
  • 2 FU points granted due to complications
  • impending issue detail established: the rite has begun!

Associated Rolls

13 Does he maintain stealth? No, and… [he picks up a new tail]
14 Does Gedric outrun his pursuers? No, and… [he is ▪️scared]

 Stay tuned for more...

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