Thursday, May 27, 2021

Flute for my enemy - Ironsworn adventure part 1

Turtle was a village elder in a village of Summerhome. One day, his son Beaver left for adventure but never returned.

A year later a baby was left in front his grandfather’s house with a note that it is Beaver’s offspring. The baby was strange, with big eyes and skin of the color of dried leaves. Her mother must have been an elf. The baby girl was named Otter.

As kid grew, she also started behaving strangely….She often danced alone under the moon, and spent its days whispering to the crows sitting on top of a few willow tries that grew next to the spring.

Willow Tree Care - Tips For Planting Willow Trees In The Landscape

Otter was also natural with bow and arrow – true to her elven ancestry.

Bonds:

1.       Otter’s grandfather Turtle

2.       Willow trees

3.       Summerhome village

Assets:

1.       Dancer

2.       Archer

3.       Augur

A leader falls

As Turtle grew older, more and more people thought that he should no longer be the village elder. This place should naturally be taken by his son, but as he was not there, other families started pretending to the position.

Otter made an iron vow that she will find her father and come back with him to the village, so that Beaver could take the elder position (background vow, extreme).

Gather information

Other tries to learn whereabouts of her father from family stories. It seems that Beaver wanted to enter the Mouth of the Dead cave – which supposedly contains entrance into the afterlife. Seems that he wanted to bring someone back from dead, but who, and why?

Vow

Otter swears the iron vow that she will seek clues about her father in the Mouth of the Dead.

Secure advantage

Otter searches her father’s remaining possessions to find something that might help in her quest. All she finds is a wood pallet with flute finger positions of some song written on it.

 Transverse Bamboo Flutes

Turtle explains Otter that Beaver played a flute.  The only way for Otter to find Beaver is to find his flute first. But Beaver did not want to be found, so he made an iron vow that he will give his flute to his arch-enemy. No one in the village knows if he managed to fulfill that vow or who could this arch-enemy be.

Undertake a Journey

First part of travel to Mouth of the Dead was uneventful.

Resupply 

Otter stopped to resupply by hunting with her bow. She took a moment to aim at a deer, but then noticed that the animal is standing by some strange rock. Otter missed the dear but went to examine the rock ornate with strange runes. Rock was actually a vessel containing elven supplies. It seems that elves keep hidden supply outposts in the forests for their travelers.

Reach your destination

 The Paleolithic Burials at Qafzeh Cave, Israel

Otter stands in front of Mouth of the Dead cave, ready to enter.

End of part 1.

PART 2
As she entered the cave Otter found herself surrounded by swarm of rats.
(few combat moves later) She found squeaking of hundred of rats around her feet annoying so she endured some stress, but managed to push a big rock at the swarm and scatter them.

Moving on, she reached a very steep descent blocking her way. It is lucky she dad her rope with her (equipment test).

Few cave halls later, Otter has seen the daylight again - there is a second exit from the cave. Is she reaching halls of afterlife?

Near the cave mouth, Otter noticed another elven resupply cache. Being low on supplies, she decided to check it out. But when she opened the cache, the swarm of terrible bugs crawled out of it. She felt so disgusted that she will never try to open elven supply storage again. (miss om re-supply, something is lost, so I let that asset go. Easy come, easy gone).
Exiting the cage, Otter noticed wast forest spreading in the lands before her.Well, this is definitely not an afterlife.
Let see what can we find under the trees.

END OF PART 2. 

Traveling through the forest, Otter’s path was blocked by a huge wolf. She moved carefully towards it, not wanting to fight the beautiful animal.

Wolf was not there for fight or food. What does it need?

(Rebel against power. What power? Coordinate Language) Otter’s mind filled with images of animals forced against their will to work against the community of elves – sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly by small trickeries, misdirection, lies or petty thieving.

Otter swore an Iron Vow that she will free forest animals from this tyrannical service (dangerous).

Otter finally reached elven community and was accepted, but how will she recognize her mother?

Ask crows! Double – a twist! (Depart Balance)

Otter’s mother lived in this community as nature priest. But elven community never approved her relationship with human, so after having her, they left the community together.

Since that moment, elven community lost its stability point. They have no nature priest at the moment, and nature is playing tricks on them.

(Decided against vow here, as it would get too intervened, rather putting it as a milestone on find parents quest – Once Otter’s mother returns, stability will return too).

Otter tried to forge the bond with her mother’s community. But, there is an issue in the village. Some elven kids disappeared, lured by a strange music from a cave north of the community If Otter could bring the kids back…

Otter enters the cave, and deep inside it finds a bandit leader commanding both kids and forest animals with the music from a flute? Is this Otter’s father flute?

Otter enters the fray attacking bandit leader. He reacts by playing a song, hoping to enchant her. But Otter resists, humming in her head the song she learned from father’s writing. Then she ends the fight – Bandit leader is dead.

Was he the one to command the animals? (Fulfill the vow – Miss!)

Otter takes the flute from the body. It is not her father’s handmade instrument, just the common one you can buy on village fairs.

Anyway she uses the instrument to play her father’s tune to the elven children in a cave, freeing them from spell. Bond with village marked.

As she exited the cave, wolf appears again. It tells her that the Bandit leader was just one of several minions, serving one mysterious leader, figure shrouded in darkness…..  Free forest animals vow is now formidable….

 END OF PART 3. 

After dealing with Bandit Leader, Otter visited Haunted Barrow to kill Necromancer, and then entered Maddening Ziggurat to pay a visit to local Chaos Priest. But inside the Ziggurat she found out that her fame was there before her. Priest surrender at the first sight of her (doubles on strong hit - Avoid Wound. Successful Compel

This allowed Otter to fulfill her vow to forest animals. They are now free.

Chaos Priest told her about the strange person who gave him a flute and showed him how to play it. He knows very little about him, except that he is rich and important person in a town lying on the other side of the Northern Mountains.

Otter left the Ziggurat with 0 Spirit (it was truly Maddening) but pressing on. As she walked back towards the elven community, she saw Priest riding full speed North, to warn his boss about Otter's arrival. Stupid fool, he will probably regret he was born once his boss finishes with him.

Otter will do some Sojourn to recover and then move North herself.

But probably not in June. It was fun ride with Ironsworn, but I feel a little tired of solo RPG-ing. What I need now are some heavy euro boardgames to burn by brain in a different way for a while.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Colostle solo RPG - Sesion 1 and review

This is my first adventure in the world of a solo RPG Colostle, recently funded through kickstarter..
From house rules, I used only Oracle (see this link), and I disregarded class rules.


My character started as a 4 exploration / 2 combat adventurer called Otter, looking for knowledge about Rooks - strange stone semi-sentinel automatons that roam the Coloste.

Traveling through the land, Otter finds remains of the strange machinery. It seems to be broken. No part of it moves. Massive electric Rook seems to be guarding machinery. Using some strange form of communication, Rook informs Otter that it will teach him about Rooks if he helps repair the machine.

Solution to the machinery condition lies with a massive ice Rook, buried within a cave in a seaside cliff. Otter should be aware that there are traps…

In order to prepare for the mission, Otter decided to visit the remains of a medium ice Rook he knows about. But there are already 2 scavengers at the Rooks site, and they attack Otter. Combat is quick, and deadly, scavengers are not a match for Otter skill. (2x treasure)

Otter tries to enter Rook shell, but the trap activates, surrounding him in ice. From its trapped position, Otter can see one of Rooks windows, and through it, a small village. The village is not there if you look from outside of Rook. The window of a Rook is too small for human to pass through, but big enough for someone to give some object inside.

Otter tries to combat the ice trap surrounding him but fails, only earning two wounds.
Then, he starts to scream hoping that villagers will hear him and come to his help.
Oracle: will this plan succeed? Yes.
What happens:
One villager reaches through the window and gives Otter an ancient item - some kind of strange torch that once was part of electric Rook. It has only one charge (the item is mostly rubble - 4 spades).
Otter uses the item’s charge to melt the ice trap.
Can Otter establish further communication with the villager? Oracle says no.

Otter then travels towards the sea. On the way there, he meets a strange person wearing a castle symbol on a robe. Upon hearing about Otter’s mission, Castle Guard decides to help and gives him a mace made from rook finger - strange weapon indeed - combat + 1.

Otter arrives at the sea cave and finds a massive Rook buried inside it. He fights Rook’s ice trap and is victorious, even if gaining 2 wounds. This Rook’s portal window is big enough for Otter to pass through, so he moves to the other side.

Our hero finds himself to be in some other cave. This cave is used as a camp by a group of humans, but they are all sound asleep and nobody notices the new arrival.
Among the sleeping people Otter finds a cage with a very small Rookling inside.

Moving quietly not to wake up anybody, Otter takes the cage and returns through Ice Rook. Road back is uneventful and Otter quickly arrives back to where he started.

He took the Rookling out of its cage, and big Rook put it into the machine. Operated by a small robot, machine parts start moving, but no visible output comes out of that.

Satisfied, massive Rook thanks Otter. It further tells him that Castle Guards use items called Ticket Keys to direct exit location of Ice Rook’s window portals, and that they are using them as means of transportation through the Colostle.
Then, Rook gives Otter one such Ticket Key.

END OF SESSION 1.

Review:

THE GOOD
First thing that you see when you get this book is beautiful art.
Another great thing that simply shines in this game is world where it all happens. Game is located within the castle so big, that mountains, rivers, even oceans are located inside its rooms.
The rooms of the castle are roamed by semi intelligent automatons called Rooks. This material for solo RPG is just great.

THE AVERAGE
Mechanics of the game is based on a standard deck of cards. Each turn is divided into two phases - exploration and combat.
In exploration phase player draws cards, finds their meaning in the table, and creates story based on that. It has opportunity to create great story lines but player needs previous solo RPG experience, it is not very beginners friendly.
Number of possible results is rather limited, with 10 red and 10 black cards (suits always represent encounter with Rooks). Also, some card meanings are to concrete (like: you fall into trap, club you avoid it, spades you are captured) so occasionally it is difficult to fit it into current adventure concept.
Combat uses paper/rock/scissors push your luck mechanics that can create interesting outcomes.

THE BAD
Where the game falls are mechanics. They definitely need some important house rulings to actually work.
Classes of the game differ just by number of cards drawn in each phase, and this is something that changes during the game. Classes have no mechanical differences even if they were easy to implement - like one class could be better when fighting Rooks, others could have additional healing or similar.
Lots of things are just for the mood sake when they could have been used mechanically.
Additional minus is the fact that the game never addresses player actions. It never asks player: what do you want to do now? There is also no way to answer player's question - like oracle or random idea generator. Also, there is no way to resolve non aggressive actions other than combat.
For example: my character is locked in ice trap inside the Rook. Previous exploration scene told me that Rook stands in front of small village. I tried to fight the ice trap but I lost. I could fight again, but it would create the death spiral. I want to scream hoping that someone in village would hear me, but I have no option for that. I can just create exploration scene hoping to deduct from that if my idea succeeds or not, but this could turn difficult with the way exploration table is created.

This game had potential, but it was not playtested properly and therefore it was published way before it should have been. With some house ruling it could create interesting stories, but it may be more trouble than it is worth. Maybe it would be easier to use just the setting, and then play another game mechanically to explore its possibilities.

Setting: 9 out of 10 stars
Mechanics: 4 out of 10 stars.
Total mark: 6.5

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Bridges to Nowhere PnP Kickstarter edition

Some time ago, company Doomsday Robots lunched a kickstarter for their new game Bridges to Nowhere.
I pledged for PnP files, and the time finally came when they arrived.

So far, I made only components needed for two player game, in order to play it solo. I went for the more robust build, making tiles on 2mm cardboard base instead of classic cards.
I packed the game into box from Carcassonne expansion. The current components fit nicely, and there is enough space for 3 to 4 players update should I decide to build it.

The game itself uses drafting mechanism, where you draft bridge elements and then try to build them into your bridge in order to maximize points. Points can be earned from bridge segments (Each built in segment brings specified number of victory points by itself. Matching symbols on adjacent tiles  and using specific tiles like monuments and toll stations can significantly boost your point total) or by fulfilling specific contract conditions predefined before each game.

Solo game is well designed, dummy player will always take the best cards and you have to use all your wits to outsmart it. Normal difficulty gives just the right challenge for average player.

Final opinion? Bridges to Nowhere is a nice and thematic drafting and tile laying brain burner that especially plays well with the music of Talking Heads in the background. For me, it is definitely a keeper.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Siekatsu blowed me off my feet

Sometimes there are the games that blow you off your feet even before they are publish. Sometimes it is enough just to read the rules or see photo of the components.
But no game have ever made such initial impact on me like Seikatsu that will soon be published by IDW Games.
Photo from BGG entry of the game

The game should be available at retailers in September or early October, but I just could not wait that long to try it.
So, I decided to make a simple prototype of the game that could serve me until I get the real thing, especially as rulebook and low resolution image of the board are available on the internet, and playing discs are not so hard to make.
Disclaimer: following opinion is based on the home made prototype, not on the real thing made by IDW Games. 
 
Seikatsu is an abstract game meant for 2 or 3 players with solo option. It is an abstract game of laying and matching discs with the original scoring mechanics that makes it really interesting. But it is also a peace of art. This thing looks astonishingly beautiful on the table even as the prototype, and I can only imagine how good will the original look.
As two player game, it should be a hit for a couples. My non-gaming wife at the moment wants to play only Patchwork with me. Once I get my hands on the real Seikatsu,  I believe that I will have no problems to make her try this. 

And now we are coming to the most important thing. How does this game fares solo? 
In solo mode, player tries to achieve more points than combined score of 2 virtual players. Designers planed 3 difficulty levels in solo mode. Easy (no sense to play), medium (easy, no way to lose if you know what you are doing) and difficult mode that gives the real challenge feeling to the human player (after 20+ solo games in difficult mode AI usually beats me with 3 to 5 points difference, and playing makes my brain burn, which is exactly what I expect from my solo games).

Once it hits the stores, Seikatsu will be highly recommended game by me.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Ambushed by the dwarfs

Here is the report form another test game of my Lone Blade solo rules for Song of Blades and Heroes.
This time, I played using base Revisited SBH rules.

Orcs are played by human player (me). They start in the South West corner and their only goal is to get out of the table through the North East one.
Dwarfs, played by AI are preparing ambush among the ruins. They have 3 elite warriors deployed in NW corner, 4 young warriors in the SE, while exit was covered by dwarf thief and orcslayer (ouch).

To compensate for the killer, orcs took a troll with them.
Orcs made a run for NE corner, but some of them were intercepted by Elite dwarf warriors. Slow moving Troll tagged behind.
In order not to provoke orcslayer, orcs to the front turned right, south of the forest to engage young warriors. Troll managed to join the brawl and score the first kill against elite warrior.
Lone Blade solo system is not meant to simulate human opponent. It plays and feels differently, and so the tactics should be adjusted. On the picture below we see orc leader getting ready to return towards Troll and try to kill a dwarf in melee with him. In Lone Blade figures within 1 medium of the enemy will act before figures in melee, so orc soldiers to the right should take some burden, allowing leader to clean the situation to the left.... 
..unless of course leader rolls 3 failures, and that is exactly what happened. It allowed all dwarfs to activate, and what is even worst, elite dwarf warrior scored gruesome kill against the prone orc. Troll failed morale check, and being close to the edge quit the field.
This was beginning of the end. Orcslayer reached Orc Leader and killed him in fair duel. A major victory for the dwarfs and for the Lone Blade AI system.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Evil Baby (Untold: Adventures Await free preview game)

Lovecraft’s mythos always produces interesting stories, so I decided to make my next Untold game part of this world.

Location: Euclidipus hospital.

Threat: a “Blob” pursuing someone.

Hero: Johnathan Grey, patient of the daily ward of psychiatric wing of the hospital due to his believe in magic. Johnathan has knowledge of the mythos and a spell book from some other reality.

Danger
“The Blob” pursues a baby recently born in the hospital. It is a girl named Maria Rack, from mother Eleonore, father unknown. Baby exists both in this reality and in some other dimension, and Blob wants to use it to open a portal between worlds. The only thing stopping Blob from accessing a baby is Johnathan’s spell book.
So, in order to save the baby, Johnathan puts the book in the mother’s luggage. Then, our hero tries to sneak into the hospital archive in order to find baby’s home address, but he is in for surprise. Hospital archive is a room that seems to go for kilometers – it might even be endless. Using his mythos knowledge, Johnathan tries to find the data he needs, only to discover that several woman named Eleonore Rack give birth to daughter named Maria at the same time. All these women live at the different parts of the city, even in different towns and countries. Being unable to get any conclusion from his findings, Johnathan returned to his room.

Intrigue

Johnathan is now sure that Euclidipus hospital is just a secret base of the Blob and his cultists. Blob uses his cultists masked as emergency medical crews to operate in the city. Once the book left the hospital in Eleonore’s suitcase, Blob will infect hospital patients with its essence and in that way travel to try to reach the baby.

Confrontation
In the hospital, doctors are looking for Johnathan. He uses the oldest trick in the book and escapes through laundry elevator. Out of the hospital Johnathan enters the phone booth and uses address book found there to look for the Rack family. There seems to be one Eleonore Rack living nearby so he goes there. He is careful to avoid any sign of medical emergency crews, but there are none of them. Actually, the whole neighborhood seems deserted.
Johnathan sneaks into the house where baby should be, only to find out that interior of the house is really an exterior located on some strange world…

Revelation
Obeying this evil person all along – the baby is pulling strings! She is really this world reincarnation of old goddess Mariarack. She opened the portal but she is unable to bring anything from portal into our world without the Blob essence.

Showdown
In front of the portal, mother holds a baby. Baby looks very week, somehow sick. Eleonore accuses Johnathan that he is trying to kill her baby girl by planting a book into her luggage.
Johnathan tries to persuade Eleonore to give him back a book, but she gets mad and turns into monster. She than tears the book in such a way that pages fly all over. Johnathan grabs pages flying by him and starts to read spells. One attacking spell hits monster and it grins with pain. Then, Johnathan casts protective force field around him, making monster mad since it can’t hurt a mortal standing before it. Using the feelings of the monster, Johnathan draws it as far away from the baby as possible, then runs, grabs a baby and throws it through portal.
The portal starts closing, and all returns to normal. Johnathan stands inside the house now, and what was a monster is again a woman. With a satisfied smile, Eleonore steps through the portal that completely closes behind her.
Johnathan is left standing amongst the torn pages of his book, wandering if he just saved the world or doomed it.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Untold: Adventures Await goes Bananaman

Creativity Hub, producer of the Rory's Story Cubes, lunched recently a kickstarter campain to produce a new game by legendary John Fiore (9Qs, World vs. Hero, Alladyn technique...) called Untold: Adventures Await.

The final game will be packed with goodies, but if you already have some Rory's Story Cubes at home, you can download the free Print and Play test files and give a game a go. That is exactly what I did, returning to the world of Bananaman.

The game uses episodic form, where each episode consists of five different scenes: Danger, Intrigue, Confrontation, Revelation and Showdown.

Picture below shows the final distribution of story cubes.
So, the story goes. 
Danger scene.
Eric was attending the Police sports day at the city stadium (cup), when the Heavy Mob (disappearance, thievery cube) stroke. They sabotaged the stadium by positioning smoke bombs around it. Every member of city police is trapped within the smoke (I found all of this by asking complex questions answered by rolling cubes not yet dedicated into the board).
It is time for Eric to eat a banana. Hero is defined by two different characteristics - in Bananaman case this will be super strength and Craw, the intelligent craw.
Time for action. Craw tries to take the policemen out of the smoke by lightning emergency exit guidelines. Imagine Craw dressed as flight attendant from your favorite airline, saying famous words: "In case of emergency light strips on the floor will guide you to the nearest exit. Please note that the nearest exit may be located behind your back...."

All actions in Untold are resolved using emoticons. Player draws emoticon and then applies it to someone in the scene, resolving it in the most appropriate way. This is a great new mechanics that I really liked. Currently, there is a discussion if emoticon cards should also have oracle (yes, yes and, yes but, no, no and, no but) added to them. If my two cents count, I am against it.

So, for the Craw's action I got terrified face. Policemen on the stadium are to afraid to follow Craw out through the smoke. It is up to Bananaman to deal with the Heavy Mob.

Intrigue scene.
Of course, Heavy Mob have a darker purpose then just trapping policemen. With nobody to keep order in the city, it was easy for Eddie the Gent and his friends to get the treasure they were after (treasure chest) - a newest model of the mobile phone.
Confrontation scene.
Heavy mob escaped to their underground hideout (Labyrinth). Bananaman followed them, but got lost in the underground tunes (man with the flashlight calling). After some unsuccessful actions, Bananaman used his banana Stethoscope to listen on the walls, trying to discover position of the Heavy Mob hideout. What he heard was flushing the water in the underground toilet (ashamed face) and following this sound our hero reached the hideout restroom, only to get himself face to face with....

Revelation scene.
..... Doctor Gloom (obeying this evil person all along - stretcher with a patient cube). Doctor Gloom was holding the phone, ordering something over internet....

Showdown scene.
Bananaman followed Doctor Gloom (cube moved from Revelation card) to the cliffs overlooking the city (lowering someone cube). There, Doctor Gloom installed super powerful audio system. His goal was to attack people of the city with the terrible music (head listening some music) he ordered on-line!
Craw reacted by pulling the connector from the loud speakers. (Ashamed face) Doctor Gloom should be ashamed that he connected the complete machinery into just one socket!
Bananaman grabbed evil doctor and took him to the police station. (Irrelevant face) Unfortunately there was no one to meet them there, as all policemen were still trapped at the stadium. So, while Bananaman was searching for a key to some cell, Doctor Gloom managed to escape.

At the end, wind blew and the smoke lifted, allowing policemen to return to the city.
Eric took super powerful audio line and installed in his room. From now on it will be used only for the power of Good Music (as credits rolls up we see city trembling from loud music from Eric's apartment....).

The end.

Final thoughts - John Fiore has done it again. One should not think of Untold: Adventures Await as a real RPG, and it will not replace your favorite solo RPG gems that do for you what games like Scarlet Heroes or High Stakes do for me. And it is clearly stated that it is not an intention of this game to do so. Untold is a fun little storytelling game that you can use to play an episode of something quick and dirty. When you only have some half an hour, and you want to play something that will end up as complete story told from beginning to the end in this short time, Untold is the title you should reach for.