Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Cave of the Grail - ALONe playtest part 4 (final)

Continued from here.

After several sessions, I have finally defined the way that Game Master's Apprentice cards / ALONe system gives the bast game for me.
As it is already visible in earlier sessions, while original ALONe game starts from 0 and then tries to beat difficulty generator by building positive modifiers, better solution for me is to start the counter with 5, and then add or remove narrative elements or Descriptors as needed. Then, I am comparing the result with the Difficulty Generator.
When it comes to the usage of Fragments, I also prefer to use them differently than described in ALONe. My way is much closer to the use of FATE points. Sometimes I will use descriptors to add +1 or -1 to the total, and this does not affect Fragment pool. But sometimes I want to increase the result, using Fragments. All descriptors can be used in positive and negative way for this. 
If I am deciding to use descriptor in negative way, I will not use Difficulty Generator, but I will automatically use Bad odds for outcome. Qualified answers are not used in this case. If I do this, I am also entitled to add one fragment to the pool.
Positive use of descriptors is done after the Difficult generator number is drawn, and in case when the result is bad for the character. If there is a descriptor that can influence the result, and it was not used to affect the total, I am paying one fragment from the pool and adjusting the total by +2 or -2 to get the result I want (usually Yes result). Here is how it looks in-game:

Tension set to 4. Since this is end game part, I would say that Fragment pool is 0.
After settling the affair with Actors from the Circle of the grail, Balthazar collected the assets needed to reach the mountain top where the Grail was said to be located.
He got the air zeppelin from RSSPE, but can he get a good pilot to take him to the top?
I will take the bad odds due to the "Better equipped then average Agent" descriptor that claims that some agents from RSSPE are angry at Balthazar and will not participate in his projects. This will gain me a Fragment. No - no good pilots want to come, so I will have -1 to all piloting tests.

Zeppelin approached the snow peak and tried to land. Can the bad pilot make the feat?
5-1 for bed pilot = 4. Difficulty generator is 6, so bad odds - No.  But even odds on this card give Yes answer, so I am using my "Better equipped than average agent" descriptor to say that Balthazar got the best zeppelin available, and that the ship can land on autopilot, thus moving my total from 4 to 6 into the even odds zone. I am paying the Fragment, and my pool is back to 0.

What's on the mountain's top?
Cave mouth was visible near the top of the mountain. The wind blowing through it created some strange kind of music, and as back beat, there was a sound of a running feet inside the cave.
Can Balthazar find some clues (footprints, animal remains, etc) that can direct him to the nature of the creature running inside the cave?
Odds bad, due to the "Specialization in social sciences" descriptor that acts as negative for nature tests. Gain a Fragment. Result: No (-1 to all tests against reason for running feet sound).
Balthazar entered the cave, his revolver ready.

Chamber 1: Water (knowledge) - heart, skull, moon.
The walls of the first chamber in the cave were obviously painted by some intelligent being. The paintings seemed to be centuries old, but once Balthazar approached them, he could recognize the faces represented. One picture showed his father being shot in his office in RSSPE by an unknown assassin. Other depicted his mother dying alone in an empty back street of the capital, covered by heavy rain, with no one near to help her.
Can Balthazar concentrate on his mission after seeing his parents  deaths? Yes, IF he does not get further info confirming that images on the wall tell the truth that can not be reversed.

Chamber 2: Earth (Unchanging) - heart, skull, sun.
This is a kind of library, holding newspapers from the future.On special stand, there were issues proclaiming death of his parents.
IF from previous chamber happened, so Balthazar will have -1 to all further tests in the cave. 

Chamber 3: Air (Movement) - skull, sword, target.
Rune: Algiz - guardian. Vice: Lust. Belongings: Keys.
Igraine Zooma, Succubus once banished by Balthazar's hand, now stands in this cave holding the key tot he chamber with the Grail.
Balthazar was surprised. He had not expected succubus to guard the holly grail!
The only thing he could do was to pray to Saint Audrey to bless his bullet.
5-1 disturbed -1 against footsteps owner +1 for praying upon saint's tarot deck = 4. Difficulty generator 6, odds bad. Still Yes. Element is Water - AND saint's spirit blessed the bullet and wrapped itself around him, allowing Balthazar to use his "connected to other side" descriptor in next test.
Balthazar shoots his gun. Will this affect the succubus?
5 - 1 against demons from "Selected lesser evil" descriptor -1 disturbed -1 against footsteps owner +1 blessed bullet = 3. Difficulty generator 4 - odds even, Yes BUT - I use Fragment and "connected to other side" descriptor to delete BUT part.
Damage on succubus: hearth, target, moon.
And so, Igraine Zooma was banished again. It was one banish too many for her, and she will not be able to influence world of mortals for 100 years, so she will never cross the path with Balthazar again.
Our hero picked the keys and unlocked the door to final chamber.

Chamber 4: Earth (Unchanging) - skull, shield, target.

The chalice was there. As he took the Grail in his hands, he knew that his life will never be the same again. The rest of his time on earth will have to be dedicated to protection of this relic....


Friday, February 19, 2016

Old School THW

Recently, on TMP forums, user Brigadier General asked community which solo wargaming mechanics they prefer, and my instant response was Song of Blades and Heroes by Ganesha Games.

But then I understood that SBH was not even designed to be played solo, and that there are rules built with solo play in mind out there - namely Two Hours Wargames (and I have almost complete collection from Ed) .

So how it happened that today I prefer to play SBH over THW? Especially when I remember that 5 or 6 years ago I had a real blast playing THW Swordplay rules?

Then, I understood  that THW is here for so long, that there is the Old School THW and the New School THW.

For example, what is In Sight test in Swordplay 2016, in the old CR3: Swordplay from 2009 is a Threat - enemy within 6" taken only by inactive group. As a result of this test, inactive group members reacted to incoming enemy by charging them, firing missile weapons, staying where they are, running for cover or even running away from the battlefield (all possible results based on  character's class and dice rolls). Old rules also had more classes (knight, missile, mounted missile, soldier and warrior), more weapons, and were, all in all, definitely more complicated to play.

So, in order to test my assumptions, I found PDF of 2009 rules, and give them a test run.
My Orcs approaching the human enemy

And before I knew it, I was playing a second game, and then a third in a row!
For the later games I added PEFs mechanics from the other editions, since i like this kind of uncertainty, but I kept everything else as per 2009 book.

The old edition is definitely more difficult, but are also much more fun to play. In this case, at least for me, the simple is not the better.

Now I am certain - as far as THW is considered, I am an old school player.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Demon storm - ALONe game part 3

Continued form here.

Balthazar took the deck and put it on the table. What makes these cards different from thousands other tarot decks, he asked himself.
Rune: Hagalaz - uncontrollable force.
Additional symbols: hearth / sword / shield
Suddenly, Balthazar felt that tarot deck is trying to posses him. "The Grail will be yours", whispered the deck to Balthazar. "It will be your prize possession, love of your life, item you will defend from others, by force if need arises...."
Balthazar used all his mental strength to resist  the voice from the cards (-1 since this is attack from the other side, even odds, yes, earth - no change), and soon the voice felt silent. Balthazar guessed that this possibility to resist a voice from the cards was a reason why St. Audrey selected him in the first place.
Then, our hero started deciphering from the cards the location of the Grail. Can he do it? (Odds good, yes but it is location difficult to access. Where - Rory's story cubes)

After couple hours of work, Balthazar found out that grail is located on mountain top that can be accessed only by air. The small zeppelin needs to land on the top very precisely, feet that can be done only by the best of the pilots.
Random event also needs to be resolved.
But Balthazar had no time to look for the pilot that day. Strange, acid rain started falling all through the city, as if some kind of curse has been set upon it.
Tension set to 5.
The complete RSSPE team was dedicated to finding responsible for this strange weather. That is when Balthazar remembered Actors from the Circle of the Grail. Maybe they are behind all of this?
Are they Ser Arthur's customers? Yes and they did not payed the crime boss for the last delivery, so he is more than happy to show Balthazar in their direction.
Location/catalyst: Traveling Players in Arena
Possession: Party masks
Sensory snippets: motionless figures.
Actors from the Circle of the Grail stood in the ancient roman Arena. Their faces were masked, and they stood under the poisonous rain, motionless as statues. Balthazar found a place protected from the rain from where he could take watch over arena. It was not the best location, as he could see just one of the figures. One hour passed, but the actor didn't move even a muscle. The weather was getting worst, so Balthazar decided to get out of his hiding place and approach the human statue. As he did that, he noticed that the storm is centering in the arena, and that in the eye of the storm something is taking form, summoned from some hellish dimension.
Desperate, Balthazar run through the rain and slam his body into the human statue. Was he able to get it to the ground? YES! - once the first actor fell, all others fell also, as if they were connected with some magical link.
How did this affected the spell?
Rune: Wunjo - Harmony, comfort.
The rain momentarily stopped, and summoned being dissapeared to where it was coming from. Balthazar was soon joined by other members of RSSPE and Actors of the Circle of the Grail were taken into custody. They put no resistance (wand / hearth / sword ). They knew that they are unable to repeat the ceremony, and their spirits dropped. Also, almost all of them were hurt, limbs broken from the fall, their skin pealing from their bodies as effect of prolonged exposition to the poisons from the rain. They needed medical treatment before they could be interrogated.

To be continued....

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Light Most Faint

I am lucky to be part of the playtest crew for the new Nordic Weasel Games product.

A Light Most Faint is a solo dungeon crawl game, that takes its inspiration from old school D&D - and as such, it's mechanics is miles away from well known 5 Core feel.
Game feels like RPG, plays on the square grid and so far requires lots of book keeping, but it is still in early stage of development.

As it is tradition of old school games, danger for your hero is real, and the player will often find himself creating a new adventurer.

I created a hero and let it loose into the Forest of Fog, introductory dungeon that is part of  playtest package.

First room was a big clearing in the woods that contained no monsters, just some rations. No roads leaded deeper into the forest, so my hero returned to the village of Heaven.

When he returned to the Forest of fog, he first encountered some goblins, and then plague monsters, but he managed to dispatch all of them quickly. After that, he had enough Essentia (experience points in this game) to make improvement roll and rise his toughens (he is harder to kill).

 Hero fighting two plague monsters in 2x3 passage

The third room in a row was a 4x3 clearing guarded by a Knight errant possessed by darkness. Fight was intense, but at the end dark knight prevailed, and our hero was slain.
Death of the Hero

Back to beginning.

If you are interested to become a playtester for this game, contact Nordic Weasel Games by commenting on this blog post.