Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Black Ops - Get that data card!

Continued from previous post.

So, Orks came from the north. In the first turn they caught guards unaware. Close quarter combat (CQC) specialists sneaked behind one the unaware guards using the forest to the east, and killed him silently.
Ork leader approached the target building in order to get the data card.
Hell broke loose at the beginning of the second turn. Remaining guards spotted intruders and started shouting, which was enough for Space Marine leader (Ace) to wake up and rise an alarm.
Hearing the alarm, Space Marines reinforcement force arrived through the east road. They quickly cleared east part of the table from any Greenskins they could find.
But Orks were doing good at the west. They prepared an ambush for Space Marine commander, and as soon as he emerged from the building he was taken down by the rain of bullets.

Ork leader found the data he needed and ordered retreat.

Turn 3 found remaining Orks trying to move out to their table edge, and Space Marines trying to close for a kill. At the end, Ork leader, Heavy support and one grunt managed to escape, while remaining grunts got killed in firefight.
Orks took heavy casualties but they were still victorious, as Ork Ace managed to return home with the data.

At the end, I really liked the game. Through the first turn I was afraid that the game will be boring and that I will easily accomplish my mission,  but as the guards become aware of my troops everything become really interesting. At the end, I was victorious, but it was close game, and there was possibility for tide to turn at the end.
What is the most important thing, enemy AI worked great, enemies responded reasonably to my actions, making Black Ops perfect solo experience.

What I missed is some kind of QRC with all tables at one location, but this is something to be more blamed on Osprey required book format, than on the author.
Still, searching for the right table through the book makes play slower, and making private QRS sheet for the next game is something I will have to do.
UPDATE - I was informed that there is existing QRS on Osprey site - here is the link.

Finally, since this is my last post this year, let me wish all of you all the best in 2016.
See you next year.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Black Ops - part 1

Just a short update this time.

I am ready to play my first game of Black Ops from Osprey.
I  will be sending my Orks (fanatics profiles from the book) on espionage mission to steel some data from Human base. All of this will happen on the Compound table, with data being stored in the central building (gun store).

Human forces are mix of conscript profiles (representing Imperial guard) and special operation profiles (Space marines Ace and Heavy). Humans will be run on programmed opponent rules from the book.
Programmed opponent in Black Ops bases itself on two tables - one for unaware opponents going on their everyday business and one for enemies in action, which should give realistic behavior for the enemy forces. Sounds good, and how it plays I will check during the weekend.

Important thing to know is that Black Ops is a card activation game, that uses standard deck of playing cards to determine initiative.
Well, just to keep in the spirit of the game I want to play, I made my own custom deck - somehow it seems nicer to me.
I plan to play this game during the weekend, so stay tuned to see how it went.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Age of Sigmar

Another business trip, this time to Warsaw, Poland.
Again, I booked the hotel to be just across the street from a gaming location - this time it was Games Workshop shop. Since there are no GW shops in south-east Europe, and my gaming group is leaning towards 9th edge, I wanted to use the opportunity and finally try first hand to play Age of Sigmar against someone with experience in the field.

So, I dropped by the shop and arranged an introductory game. 
I brought with me some Skaven models, 5 war scrolls, 23 figures total.
My opponent (by chance named Aleksander - the same as me) took 4 war scrolls of Khorne, 27 figures total.
My opponent played in the spirit on Khorne - all forces forward.
Rats turned to be harder nuts than I expected. They managed to withstand first attack, after which moment my Plague priest (leading from behind as any good rat should) followed by rattling gun encircled enemy and brought devastation to Blood God forces.

Rats were victorious. The game lasted about one hour.

My opinion? You can kill me but I liked the game. Actually, I think that any game after which you can spend additional 15 minutes with opponent discussing about what strategy each side could take is a good game. And that is exactly what we did.

Age of Sigmar is not a brain cracking serious game, but I spent really fun hour of playing, and I will gladly do it again - so next time I come close to any GW shop I will definitely try to organize a play. 20 models is something I can always bring with me on a trip.

So once again thanks to the GW Warsaw team for the great time.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Red Worms, Blue Worms

Last week, I was on a business trip to Plovdiv Bulgaria. By the luck of the chance, my hotel was just across the street from recently opened gaming club called Level Up. So I dropped by after work to say hi.
As the evening was early, I suggested a game of Microscope RPG. 4 players participated, including myself. We decided to play a history of life on the planet, from first to last living cell. As important part of the pallet, we decided that there will be no intelligent beings, so no artificially created cataclysms. Life has to die on the planet due to natural causes.

At the beginning of history, cells started multiplying until one cell give birth to two genetically strange offspring - one red and one blue. Children of those cells will later become red and blue worms. Somebody mentioned that Red Worms dominated first period of existence. Someone else decided that Blue Worms live in the water.

There were other creatures, like  Slugs, Jellyfishes and Birds. We had important scene where we asked question how did the Birds become extincted.  During the scene we discovered that Red Worms live in lava, and that same lava is a food source for Birds. As the planet got colder, there was no more lava pools on the surface, and water filled empty spaces. Birds had no food and they died off.
Also, Red Worms had nowhere to live, so Red Worms dominated period ended and Blue Worms dominated period began.

But the similar thing that happen with lava now happened with water. Lack of water on the surface forced Blue Worms to become smaller and smaller, and at the end they were living as parasites inside the Jellyfishes, whose belly was the last remaining wet environment on the planet surface. Unfortunately, the symbioses was not perfect, Blue Worms were eating Jellyfishes from the inside, parasites soon killed their hosts and they killed themselves the same way, ending the life on the planet.

Players struggled with rolleplaying in scenes due to the strange nature of possible characters, so most of the the scenes ended up being dictated, but all in all it was a fun game and it went well considering that 3 players were completely new to Microscope.

Later in the evening we also played some Takenoko and a shot of Betrayal at the House on the Hill (great game, one I am going to purchase to run for my home group at Jatacenje convention in January).

Great time all in all. Level Up is a must if you go to Bulgaria.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Traveling set

Due to the popular request, I am presenting here my traveling wargaming set.

If you are like me, and you spend better part of the week in hotels on business trips, out of home, you would like to take your hobby with you. Here is the way I am doing that.

The first thing every wargamer/RPG player needs are dice. So, even when I fly short distances within Europe with just hand luggage, the dice sets goes with me. My do not leave home without set includes all Rory's story cubes, some Fudge dice for FATE, at lest 3 complete sets of polyhedral dice with several additional D20 for D&D or OSR, and lots of additional D6 for everything else.

With most of the books stored as PDFs in my PC, this is enough for a several evenings of solo RPG plays.

But if I travel by car, or if I carry a big suitcase due to the need of packing a suit, I like to brig along also some wargaming stuff. Only, in this case it is important to accept going small and to accept compromises.

First thing needed for a good game is a table. My traveling table is 1"x1". If you use inches into centimeters approach, it can double as 2"x2" table, and that is enough for most skirmishes.

My tables are made from wood veneer or thick cardboard. Upper surface is first covered with magnetic foil (I use the self adhesive one, to glue it easily on complete board)
Over the magnetic foil I glued self adhesive paper with grass pattern printed on it. If you look at the photo you can see lines where A4 sheets meet each other.
Good idea is to glue magnetic foil on both surfaces of the board, and then to cover one with grass pattern as shown above, and second with stars pattern for space ship fights, if you like that kind of things.

For the small board, you will need small figures. I use 10mm figures for fantasy, 6mm for Napoleonic wars or SF. Fantasy is the best solution for traveling, since these games can be played with little or no terrain. For firearms period it is usually good to have crowded table with lots of cover, but when you are on the road you do not want to carry too much terrain with you, no matter how small it is.
So, when I travel I usually carry with me what is shown on the upper photo - big warbands of humans, dwarfs and orcs (Copplestone castings 10mm), giant rats swarm led by two ratmen (all GW, small parts from Skaven sprues), some dungeon monsters from different manufacturers, selected 10mm terrain and some space ships for SF space combat. Important part of the set are counters visible on bottom right.
All models are individually based. As base for small models I use 3mm washers (7mm outer diameter), glued to the bottom of the figure's original base. Washers catch to the magnetic surface of the board, and in this way i know that I will not accidentally ruin my setting.
Bigger models are based on appropriate bigger washers.
Terrain peaces are either commercially available paper models scaled to 6/10mm, or custom made by me. Terrain peaces also need to be able to attach to magnetic foil. Best trick I found for that is to use old (or for this purpose especially purchased) metal measuring tape - it is cheap material, catches to magnet and can be easily cut. Just glue part of it to the bottom of your terrain as shown below, and you are ready to go.
The last thing is to pack the miniatures. I was never the one to worry if they will get damaged or not - small miniatures I use are robust and do not break easily, and if some paint goes of I can easily fix it. Therefore, I just put all the models into plastic box left after some small electric device, and then drop it into the suitcase. If you want to take better care of your miniatures while traveling, you will have to think of something yourself.
You will also need something to measure distances, and that is it.

So, if we ever happen to be in the same hotel somewhere in Europe, you may count on it that I have my gaming set with me.
Meet me in the hotel lobby, I am always happy to throw a game or two.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Advanced SoBH action

One of my favorite skirmish games - Song of Blades and Heroes is now available in two flavors - as normal and advanced game.
Advanced game was funded through kickstarter, and, among other things, it features lots of new traits, magic system developed to higher detail, and a very neat reaction system that allows your models to step in with the quick action during the opponent turn.
As kickstarter backer, I received the playtest version of the game few days ago, so I decided to do a little solo trial.
I played a small game, where two 100 points warbands (troll, orc archer and giant rat against human leader, human archer and a dwarf) were pitched in a limited space of a dungeon room.
As usually, I am on a business trip and I have limited resources, so for this test I used grid instead of sticks, counting one square as short, two as medium and 3 as long distance. Figures are 10mm scale.

The beginning of the game favored dungeon monsters, as orc archer made a gruesome kill on human shooter.
But high Quality of attackers showed itself here, they got over the gruesome kill, ganged on troll and sent him out of action.
Then orc archer missed his shot, rat recoiled from a dwarf and looters were able to gang on remaining orc again. Orc went prone, and then rolled turn-over, so heroes used lethal attack to finish the game (animals automatically escape once last non-animal model is killed).
The game was fun, and the new traits really give color to characters.

Of course, when playing, my main concern was how will the new rules influence possibility for solo games.
To my surprise, it seems that advanced version will be easier to transfer into solo game than the original one. The goal for the future is to define the way NPCs will use reaction based on their role  in the warband (shooter will probably move away from the melee, etc) and this will make them more automated, more realistic, and therefore a bigger challenge for the player.
I am looking forward to delving deeper into this rules.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Grom's Spin-Off Show

While Oldbook explores the mountains, his companion from previous adventures, half-orc cleric Grom, has a problem of his own.

After joining Oldbook on (unauthorized) excursion to the dungeons beneath the city, monastery elders ordered Grom to purify himself with ritual passage through the Temple of the Waterfall.

This game was played using the map provided by Christopher Stieha as part of Solo Gaming appreciation month. Game is played as series of challenges hero needs to overcome. Since the goal is to purify the character, challenges are not deadly. Hero can be successful or unsuccessful at them. Successful challenges grant experience to the character, while unsuccessful ones grant no rewards and usually make the next challenge more difficult to overcome.

Grom arrived to the Temple of the Waterfall in the morning. He entered the temple, said his prayers, and prepared himself for the challenges ahead. Then, he climb to the second level of the temple.
1.As Grom entered the room he was overpowered by heavy scent. His body started feeling heavy (failed constitution test) and he felt on his knees in front of the sculpture of some deity. Cleric gathered all his strength (successful strength test rolled with disadvantage) and crawled out of the room.
2. Grom passed through several empty levels and reached the building overlooking the waterfall. Suddenly, he was overflowed by unreasonable fear. He tried to convince himself that there is nothing to be afraid of, but failed, and so he bowed his hed and rushed out, bumping at things found on his way (failed wisdom test against fear, 2 HP lost).
3.  Next room seemed to have a statue of the Beholder carved at the wall. Suddenly, beholder came to life, and caste slowing ray that hit our hero. Lucky for Grom, beholder missed all its attacks, so the cleric, although slowed, managed to walk out of the room and out of the monsters reach. 
4. On the bridge across the waterfall Grom encountered a Blink Dog. Cleric (still slowed) tried to reason with the creature, but Dog seemed in the mood for fight and attacked first. The battle was rather short, since dog dissapeared as soon as Grom managed to hit it for the first time.
5. The road into the second part of the temple was closed by a door. Door seemed to be opened by the strange mechanism requiring knowledge in both arcana and nature to operate. But Grom was not smart enough to do that (failed intelligence Arcana and Nature tests). So, he just set by the door and started meditating, until they opened seemingly by themselves.
6. The gate was actually opened by a Flumph, ancient creature who lived in the temple. Flumph asked Grom to read the prayer written on the wall and to sing it. Cleric actually recognized the prayer (successful religion test) but his performance (failed test) was so terrible that Flumph started laughing. "OK, it is enough", said the creature. "Take some rest here. I will take care that nothing happen to you why you sleep. Then move on."
7. Well rested, Grom prepared for next challenge - passing triathlon (free climb - strength, fast run - dexterity and long run - constitution) by achieving requested results. But while he was preparing, strange flower in his changing room started emitting some poisons. Grom stopped the breathing and left the room, avoiding getting poisoned. He reported this event to the judge priest but he just smiled and told him to start with the test  (I am using again Archery contest rules  requiring from my hero  to achieve 3 points in each discipline. He made it in STR, but failed in both CON and DEX). Cleric was strong enough to climb up the ledge, but grew tired and could not run as fast or as long as required. "You tried, so you are getting purified", the priest said. "It is not possible to succeed every time."
8. Grom hoped for some rest, but the next chamber contained a trap - ball and a chain swinged from one of the walls. Cleric noticed trap on time, but was to slow to avoid it (lost 2HP).
9. Descending one more level, our hero started feeling sleepy. He knew he needed the rest, but not that much, so he recognized his condition (successful wisdom test) for what it really is - another trap. So he gathered his wits and moved on.
10.  As he descended to the final level of the Temple, Grom noticed a priest from above throwing him a bottle of healing potion. He managed to catch it, and it revived our hero to full strength. Just in time, since Giant Badger was running his way ready to attack. Battling this creature was not an easy task for the first level Cleric, but somehow he made it and finally animal was dead. Grom was exhausted, but he knew that the trails are at the end. 
He entered the next room, where the head priest proclaimed him officially purified, and presented him a purification seal (trinket) as a proof.
Grom was also awarded with the Cure wounds spell scroll, that he will keep for the next adventure.
He also accumulated enough experience to reach level 2.

And so, we part ways with Grom the cleric for now. We will probably see him again once Oldbook the Bard starts needing his help, or when the new occasion for spin-off adventure arises.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Trouble in the inn (5th edition adventure part 6)

Continued from here.

After the inn went silent, Oldbook returned to the common room. He took care to do everything quietly, knowing that innkeeper has a light sleep.
Sneak test. If the result of the test is under 10, innkeeper will wake up. Between 10 and 15 Oldbook will have disadvantage on all actions since he can do so mush without making noise. On more than 15 innkeeper will not wake up no matter what our hero does. I rolled 14, so disadvantage it is.

Search behind bar found no clues (failed investigation test), so Oldbook decided to search basement. Basement was locked (failed Sleigh off hand test) but our hero remembered seeing the key behind bar (successful perception test).
Bard unlocked the basement and started looking through it, but all he found was a guard dog!
Dog jumped at our hero, and knocked him prone, biting his left hand. Our hero found himself in disadvantage again. Further more, Innkeeper woke up by the noise of the struggle, and will come to basement in (2d6=) 5 turns.
It took 3 turns for our hero to hit a dog with the rapier and kill  him. Heavy bleeding himself, he tried to hide in the far corner of the basement.

But innkeeper came with the lamp and noticed Oldbook (failed stealth check VS. innkeepers passive perception of 10).
- What are you doing here? - innkeeper asked.
- I just wanted to have a midnight drink of wine when your dog attacked me - bard replayed.
Will the innkeeper buy this? (persuasion test, difficulty 10 with +5 modifier. Rolled 5 so right on target). It seems yes but....
- I will not have your kind making troubles in my inn. - said the innkeeper. - Pack your things and get out. But not before you pay me for the dog. This kind of trained guardian cost me 25gp.
Oldbook had no choice but to pay for the dog and to leave the in. 25gp were almost all the money our hero had with him. In his pocket there were only 11sp left. Furthermore, he was wounded, and he really needed some rest.
Since he was not welcome in the inn any more, bard used his song to seduce a local widow who allowed him to spend the next night in her home (successful performance test).

As our hero found no clues about innkeepers treason, he decided to do as advised earlier and to follow his initial plan. So, he took into wilderness, looking for kobolds.

To be continued....

Monday, October 26, 2015

Towards the mountains (5th edition adventure part 5)

Continued form here.

Following the fiasco at the bard contest, Oldbook turned towards the mountains.
He tried to remember if there is a settlement in their surroundings (medium history test, difficulty 15 with +3 modifier, roll 19). He remembered reading somewhere about a barbarian village of Goodwater, ruled by iron willed but respected chief. The village got it's  name from the fountain standing on the main square. Legend says that that the fountain springs the best cooking water in the world, and that every dish prepared with it tastes several times better then when prepared with water from any other source. (Info collected from random tables in Dungeon Master Guide book, pages 108-116).
Oldbook tried to follow the road from Deepcold to Goodwater avoiding any unpleasant encounters on the way - it is about a day travel on a safe and often used road (Nature test followed by stealth test, both successful so he makes it).
It was late evening when he entered an inn in the middle of the village, conveniently named "Fountain". He rented a room, and ordered a rabbit stew. It all costed 4gp but it was well worth it. Legends were telling the truth - it was the best meal our hero ever tasted.
The next morning, bard decided to stand at the square and listen to the people, hoping that he will be able to collect some information about the monsters from the mountains (medium perception test, successful). What did he learned?
Rory story cubes - dig a hole  + Monster shadow.

It seems that there is a "mole" in the village, someone is cooperating with the monsters. Chief is looking for someone to find the traitor (to dig him up).
Oldbook petitioned to meet the chief (easy persuasion test, successful) and was admitted.
What can he learn from the chief?
Rory story cubes - Pill + Target.  
Someone from the village tried to sell water from the fountain to the monsters from the mountain as a cure for some illness. Once the monsters realized that water have no healing properties, they blamed the whole village . Local population lives in fear from the attack. Chief wants someone to investigate, find who really is to be blamed for all this, and present the guilty party to the monsters, hoping that in this way village can be saved.
Form the way chief described monsters, Oldbook recognized kobolds (successful easy nature test).
Bard decided to set a trap for monster menacing the village. He guessed that kobolds will attack fountain so he hid himself near and waited.
Soon (successful medium insight test), a winged kobold flew over the fountain carrying a rock. He was looking for a position to bombard the structure, and he didn't bard's hiding place. Another kobold was there, this one without wings. He was staying aside, directing his flying cousin. Oldbook jumped out of his hiding pace and attacked (Bard's hiding test beats passive perception values of both kobolts).
Normally, this would be a very deadly encounter for my hero, the one I would think twice before engaging. This time I hoped that element of surprise - as both kobolts were unable to act in the first turn, and bard had advantage due to unseen attack - would tip the scale in my favor. I was right. It was difficult fight, Oldbook had to spend two out of his 3 spell slots on healing magic, and still ended the encounter wounded. But at the end both kobolts were dead, and or hero is 75xp closer to level 3.
Oldbook checked dead monsters for some traces of sickness, but both of them looked healthy (failed medium medicine test). There was also no clues pointing towards the traitor (failed medium investigation test).
Bard lined kobold bodies by the tavern wall. He hoped that his brave act will secure him at least a stew and a free in for a night. But (failed easy persuasion test) the innkeeper was not impressed. If Oldbook wants to eat and sleep he has to pay. And so, bard's pocket was another 4gp lighter.
But Oldbook found this innkeeper's behavior suspicious. What kind of man will not reward a hero who just saved a fountain?
So, instead of going to sleep, bard played with his instrument for a while (he needs long rest, but takes only short one, returning to the maximum hit points).
Once he felt that the tawern is closed for the night, Oldbook sneaked out of his room to investigate....

To be continued

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Geting over with level 1 (5th edition dungeon crawl part 4)

Continued from here.

It is finally time to continue the story of the bard Oldbook.

After escorting his priest companion back to his monastery, bard returned underground. he wanted to explore what lies west of the Flumph settlement (11 on the first map).
Oldbook started from the northern door.
1. Empty circular room. There is a portcullis to the west, but it can not be opened due to the cave in. Oldbook could still see through rocks and bars, and he noticed some kind of hospital on the other side, but there was no way to reach it.
2. Another empty room. This one was partially flooded, and the door to the south was used as the dam to let limited amounts of water into next room. It seems that it was work of Flumph. Water was coming from the west. Oldbook though that if he could only breathe under water he could reach other parts of the dungeon through there, but at this moment it was out of his league.
3. One more Schreaker farm. Water was slowly coming from the north to feed the fungi. No additional exits.
4. Huge room, but with no other exits than the one Oldbook entered through. Two devils (Lemures) summoned by who knows what foul magic were calling this room their home. Lemures are not a hard hitters, and their defense is week, but their high hit points  presented a bit of a problem. Fight was longer than expected, and Oldbook used almost all his resources to win. But once the fight was over, he felt stronger then earlier, for he was finally a level two bard.

With his resources depleted, our hero returned to the surface. But as son as he stepped out of the dungeon, he was surrounded by the Deepcold city guards.

While he was escorted out of the city (and it was not gentle and pleasant experience), he was thinking if this was coincidence, or if some priests from the monastery talked... But he will have to investigate it once he will be able to return to Deepcold, and this will not be any time soon.

Oldbook was thrown out of the city with the boot in the back. When he was finally able to stand up, he noticed that a festivity is being held just outside the city walls. And where is the festivity, there is certainly a bards contest (for the contest I am using Archery contests - excellent - and free - add on by EN World)

So Oldbook entered a contest, throwing in 1gp deposit. Unfortunately, the memories of the guards throwing him out of the city must have been overwhelming, and against all odds he failed to pass qualification rounds, scoring two out of 3 required points with judges). Well, another gold peace easily lost.

With no better idea what to do, Oldbook decided to follow advice received from the Flumph, and he headed for the mountains.

To be continued.

Friday, September 25, 2015

New arrivals

Last two weeks I was traveling through Europe on a long excursion with my family. We used almost every transportation possible - plains, trains modern and old fashioned, cars.... We met some rarely seen family members and old friends, and we visited some great museums and parks (mostly the ones appropriate for small kids).

During the trip I used downtime to immerse my older kid, who is now 5 years old, deeper into gaming. A nice RPG called Hero Kids was a great help in the process. As usually, I used magnetized board and 10mm figures mounted on metal washers to secure stability of the setting while on the move.
Here we are playing introductory adventure from Hero Kids in Euro City train.
My son just loved the game.

After returning home, I found two packages waiting for me.
Smaller one was from Sophia Brandt, owner of the Die Heart blog. Recently, she made a giveaway on the blog, and I was a lucky winner of printed set of Game Master's Apprentice cards.
GMA is a great tool for solo roleplaying, and I hope to use it very soon in one of my games - maybe even as part as my ongoing Fate Diaspora and 5th edition D&D dungeon crawl campaigns.
Bigger package was fulfilled kickstarter reward - copy of the new board game called Space Cadets: Away Mission.
I could not resist the urge to play this game immediately, and I am very satisfied with the first impressions. The game keeps to its promise of reviving feeling from the golden age of SF, really is easy to learn but difficult to master, and the way the success dice are distributed makes it a novel experience.
I am looking forward to playing next mission.
All in all, satisfying two weeks in every aspect.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Thoughts on Fate Solo

Fate as solo engine has been already discussed on several blogs, like Solo Roleplayer, No one to play with or Solo RPG voyages.

Following them, I just wanted to add my own 5 cents.

When I first started with Fate, I planed to use driver like 9Qs to run my game, but it turned out there is no need for that.
As Roryb from No one to play with correctly noticed - Aspects is really where it’s at.
To achieve something in Fate, player needs Fate points, and the pool is running empty fast. In order to fill it back, player needs to compel to one of the aspects and include complication, and that is usually enough to drive the story forward.

Of course, spicing things up is always good.

Solo roleplayer offers this through Fate oracle, a way to answer yes/no questions with a twist. The problem with this is the fact that oracle is already incorporated into Fate game, and there is no need to remember another one.
Binary questions in Fate are answered through Create advantage action using in-game mechanic. Simply, instead of asking a question "Is the door locked?" and assigning probability,  player can try to create "Unlocked" aspect on the same door, by assigning difficulty for the task. If he fails, door is locked, and then the player can use Overcome action to try to unlock them. On the other hand, this approach offers no twist in AND/BUT range.

Solo RPG voyages introduces twists through random events triggered when all marked sides of the dice show only + or only - signs. The idea is further extended on the blog.

Following this idea, I tried to incorporate it into Fate to add AND/BUT twist to the built in oracle.
Here it is:

Every time the player rolls dice against fixed difficulty (usually to make Create advantage or Overcome action) look at the symbols on the dice. 
If two or more blank sides are visible, result is success of failure as per rules with added AND.
If at least one combination of + and - is visible, result is success of failure as per rules with added BUT.
In case of the dice combination + - _ _ BUT and AND result can either cancel each other, or you may select special case of success/failure with both AND and BUT.
In case of the re-roll use the second set of dice.
The issue that AND or BUT relate to can be selected by the player or invoked using some sort of Random idea generator.

Chances table if AND and BUT cancel each other: 
AND ------21/81 or 26%
BUT-------37/81 or 46%
No result-23/81 or 28%

Examples of this system in action can be seen here.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

First stalker missions (Diaspora/FATE solo session)

Continued from here.

Once The Sting emerged in The Zone polar space, F-Mouse prepared for her first mission. Near the location Sting selected to dock she could see (D6=)6 shuttle slipstreams ready to take her to the surface. She decided to test them in order they are, so she selected first from her left.

Shuttle slipstream 1

What I see: Fingerprint, Well, Horned helmet (RSC).

After shuttle landed, F-Mouse noticed a garden labyrinth,  with well in the middle. Labyrinth walls were not at all high, and she could jump over them, but they were made from some really thorny plant.

Create situation aspect - Path through labyrinth. Create advantage action with difficulty 2, using Recon (1). Roll -1 (+ - - _), fail BUT: Building + Fight (RSC).

F-Mouse could not detect a pattern through the maze, but she noticed that thorns react to insects that come close to them, and even fight each others if they start growing too close. Seems that plants will attack any intruder who enters the labyrinth, and F-Mouse was not happy about this. She wanted to investigate that well. So, she decided to risk pulling through that maze.

For this I used contest rules, where F-Mouse used overcome action (Agile 1) and thorns tried attack action (Profession: thorn plant 2). F-Mouse rolled 0, plant -1, resulting in tie. Plant gets a boost - blocked passage. Also, according to contest rules, something strange happens: Alarm clock waking up somebody, Monster from the bushes (RSC).

Thorn wall moved, and blocked the entrance into the maze. F-Mouse looked across the plants and noticed a human figure standing up by the well, stretching as just awakened from long sleep.
It seems that F-Mouse waked up one of the ancient inhabitants of the system!

In this moment I decided to compel to the system aspect "We are still here" to make a complication and take a fate point (pool rises to 6). What will the newly awaken men do? Whip, Knock-knock (RSC).

Zone immortal took his whip to chase away the trespasser.

Locals in the zone all have skill Profession: Zone immortal 7. Since he is using a whip across two combat zones, so out of the normal range, he gets -2 accuracy penalty, bringing him to 5. F-Mouse uses Agility 1 to evade, adding armor from skin vest (defense 3) to a total of 4. Zoner rolls -1, F-Mouse +1. F-mouse wins ans rolls away to safety.

Even though men was rather far, whip crack was dangerously close. Close enough for F-Mouse to get  the message. She turned and made a running start towards the shuttle. She may be returning from her first mission empty handed, but she met Zone immortal and lived to tell the tail - more than many stalkers could say.

Back on the Sting.

I made a maintenance roll to see if I can afford a space in a ship after coming empty-handed. Zone is a R4 system, so I need to roll against difficulty of 4 using wealth 0. I rolled 0 (+ - _ _), and tagged "Hitchhiking through galaxy" (one Fate point used, 5 left) aspect for -2 shifts as final result. I marked second box on wealth stress track.

Returning empty handed made  F-Mouse worry about her financials. If she does not bring something to captain, he might throw her out from the ship. Of course, she could always offer him to maintain the ship drive during the return trip, but she still felt uneasy about her first result.

Shuttle slipstream 2

What I see: Volcano, Cactus, Dwarf miner (RSC).

After good night sleep, F-Mouse took second slipstream shuttle. It landed at the feet of heat radiating mountain. Some thorny plants she knew from the day before grew here and there on the mountain sides, so she made a mental note to avoid that areas if possible. Mountain seemed to be hollow, and holes that resembled mine entrances were scattered everywhere on the slopes.

Create situation aspect - safe corridor. Create advantage action with difficulty 2, using Recon (1). Roll +2 (+ + _ _), success AND this is the corridor that leads to some kind of treasure.

Create situation aspect - unopposed road to the tool-room. Create advantage action with difficulty 4, using Operator: mechanical (5). Roll +1 (+ + - _), success BUT: Pill, Footprint (RSC).

F-Mouse selected one mine entrance where the heat was not so distinctive, and descended into the mountain. She felt better immediately,  leaving open spaces for the safety of the corridors. This place reminded her of her beloved ship tunnels. She knew spaces like this, such corridors usually ended with the tool-room or storehouse. There should be no dangers this way, she thought. Tool-rooms are never locked or protected. Nobody likes to work, so if you took the trouble to come here and take a tool, you probably need it and you are also authorized to do it.
She was right. Corridor took her to the mining tools storage. Unfortunately, it was not in good condition. Earthquake or some similar event moved all tools from their places and piled them in one big iron mountain. F-Mouse tried to pull some good looking peaces of equipment, but she disturbed equilibrium and everything collapsed on her.

F-Mouse is under attack from falling tools, accuracy 4, penetration 2, damage 2. She defends with her alertness 2 helped by snakeskin vest 3-2=1  for total of 3. F-Mouse rolls -4, debris rolls +3 for a total of 8 shifts! I decided to use Snakeskin vest aspect (4 Fate points left) to make a re-roll. Second roll is +2 so better. Total result is 2 shifts victory for debris. I mark first two stress boxes on both Health and Composure.

Our hero was alert, she have seen falling parts and tried to react and step back from the main impact of the falling metal but failed, and the mountain fell directly on her back. All she could do is to haggle and hope that her elastic snakeskin vest will deflect the metal parts.
Dust settled. broken equipment was laying all around our hero. She could feel the bruisers all over her body, but nothing was broken. Snake's skin did it's job.
F-Mouse took a short rest and then started looking around for some still functional peace of equipment.

Overcome action with difficulty 5 using Operator: mechanical (5). Roll +1 (+ _ _ _), success AND she finds two good tools. 

Soon F-Mouse detected not one, but two operational peaces of mining equipment. One was automatic drill worth 3 cost shifts and another one a precise hand drill used to remove precious stones from their rock beads, 2 cost shifts worth. She put the small drill into pocket, but the big one looked cumbersome.

Overcome action with difficulty 1 using Strength (0). Roll +2 (+ + _ _), success AND she didn't even get tired doing this.

But it only looked that way. It was superior peace of technology made by advanced race of humans - and it was actually rather easy to carry.

Back on the Sting.

F-Mouse give the big drill to the ship captain. This eased her mind, for it was enough to pay her stay on the Sting for the moment. Captain also informed F-Mouse that the Sting will stay in Zone for 4 more days, before moving to Outpost. This was good, she had time to run one or two more surface missions and maybe find something that can be used in one of her homelands.

Big drill was sold for 2 wealth shifts, enough to clear wealth stress track. Since captain got something, I will not perform maintenance check for next 4 days, but I will see if the captain will have some request once they return to Outpost - probably through social mini game.

To be continued....

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Freedom-Mouse (Diaspora character creation)

In Fate RPG, and therefore in Diaspora also, character creation is a storytelling process, with some limitations.
First thing I needed to do is to see from what system my character originates. I rolled d6 and got 5 - New Hope.

Now I have two phases to create a character and generate 4 aspects, based on the place of origin.

1. Growing up: 
Freedom-Mouse (F-Mouse for short), belongs to the family of initial settlers. She was third generation in her family line born on New Hope.
When all your ancestors lived in the tight corridors and tiny locked areas of the colony, one gets used to move in claustrophobic surroundings and starts feeling uneasy when confronted with the open space.
The New Hope colony is a place for all kind of people. New settlers, each with its own story, arrive on daily bases, so F-Mouse learned to respect this diversity.
Aspects: Agoraphobia, Judge not, that ye be not judged.

2. Starting up:
F-mouse trained as drive engineer, and with her ability to work in tight places she was drafted by the Outpost fleet as a maintenance technician on slipstream ship called Wrench. While serving there, she learned to fix ship's equipment sometimes even when there were no tools, materials and spare parts available. She got enough knowledge about the Zone technology that she become able to jump start some ancient artifact without any knowledge what it is and what is its purpose.
Aspects: It works when I am around, Fixing in a makeshift way.

Next two phases should be interaction with other players. Since there are no other characters, interaction medium will be Rory's story cubes.

3. Moment of crisis: Bombardment (destroyed space ship?), Snake
Upon her travels, Wrench was unfortunate enough to be attacked by a pirate ship from Nest. Battle was short, and Wrench crash landed in flames on the Desert planet in Nest system. The part of the ship where F-Mouse was separated from the main part of the hull earlier, and that is how she survived. She was still in bed situation as her agoraphobia started kicking in the desert.
By luck of the fate, she crossed path with a giant desert snake. F-Mouse killed the snake, and survived by eating it's raw meat.
Furthermore, she battled her fears by squeezing herself inside the snake's skin - there it was tight and dark just like inside her beloved slipstream ship corridors.
After several days, F-Mouse was discovered by the members of the Serpent warrior tribe. After encountering a women who performed ancient rite of killing desert snake barehanded, they accepted her into the tribe as a battle sister.
With a help of local smiths, F-Mouse converted snake's skin into a bulletproof vest - her lucky charm.
Aspects: Snakeskin vest, Serpent tribe battle sister.

4. Sidetracked: Judge hammer, Lens
Coming from different culture, F-Mouse found it difficult to live all the time by tribe rules. In order to prevent being judged by the elders of the tribe, she volunteered for stalker training - as stalker she will be useful to the tribe,  and will be able to return to her beloved space. F-Mouse passed the test thanks to her incredible eyes for details, ability rare among the desert tribes.
Aspects: Not made to follow rules, Not seeing the forest for the trees.

Final phase is free-form again.

5. On her own: 
So, F-mouse found herself aboard the ship called Sting, as it emerged in The Zone space. She was ready for her first descent as a stalker, hoping to bring back at least two artifacts from her first mission - one for the Serpent tribe and one for her family on New Hope.
Aspects: Woman with two homelands, Hitchhiking through galaxy

5. Operator: mechanical
4. Survival, Drive enginering
3. Health, Profession: stalker, Operator: electronics
2. Resolve, Alertness, Intimidation, Zero-G
1. Agility, Brawling, Recon, Operator: animal handler, Culture/Tech: New Hope/Nest///Zone (with aspect Woman with two homelands)

Have a thing - a glue or similar to connect two things or fix a hole
Swamp a skill - Profession: stalker can be used instead of Brawling but only in the zone
Military grade Drive engineering - to be defined

Health 5, Composture 4, Wealth 3.

Fate points: 5 + 5 at the beginning of first combat encounter.

She is now ready for her first adventure.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

DIaspora cluster building

I wanted to spice up my solo RPG life, and to take a break from 5th edition adventure, so I decided to try to play with Fate RPG.

I decided to start with a game called Diaspora, since it has very nice world building mini game. As it is always the case, world building needs 3 players, so I decided to emulate two of them, Mr. Good and Mr. Bed using Rory's story cubes. Therefore, first two systems are mine, systems 3 and 5 are owned by Mr. Good and systems 4 and 6 by Mr. Bed. I picked up characteristics for my systems, while characteristics of other 4 are rolled using fudge dice as described in Diaspora.

In Diaspora, all space travel occurs by the predefined trajectories called slipstreams, and it all happens within a group of star systems connected into clusters.

To start, I made a 6 systems cluster that looks like this:
Lines that connect systems are slipstreams. Basically, from system 5, you can directly and instantly reach systems 3, 4 and 6. To reach system 2 from system 5 at least two jumps are needed. Slipstream configuration is rolled using Fudge dice as described in Diaspora book.
Below are descriptions of systems, after all in-game adaptations were made.

1. The Zone. Technology (T)+4, Habitat (H)+4, Resources (R)+4
Aspects: We are still here, One may return - two or more will not.

Story: In the old time, The Zone was known by some other, now forgotten name. At that time, it hosted a civilization so advanced, that humans who lived there were immortal.
System was so terraformed that on every place - even between planets, there was air, perfect temperature and optimal pressure. Nano technology took care of all things, humans were safe and supported wherever they are.
Nano technology was so advanced that there was nothing people needed to do. So one day civilization collapsed due to the pure boredom of  its inhabitants. From that moment until today natives of the Zone are just laying in their beds doing nothing - some say they are meditating meaning of life, others say they are just sleeping to shorten the boredom of their immortality.
Now, millions of years later, old name for system is forgotten and it is known just as The Zone. Some of its immortal citizens are still there, living and dreaming their impossible dreams. Their ancient technology is scattered all around them.
So, The Zone became a paradise for Stalkers, brave people ready to enter the system and return with the artifacts that will be richly paid in other systems of the cluster. This is dangerous profession, for many stalkers enter the Zone, and only few of them return. Some become victims of the nature that is taking back the system - dangerous life forms roam free through the Zone. At some places nano technology stopped working, creating holes without air, gravity or pressure - places that only experienced stalkers can recognize. Some stalkers become victims of misuse of strange technology. Some are even destroyed by ancient sleeping beings, as punishment for disturbing their eternal rest.
Another thing that makes the profession so dangerous is a fact that every stalker must go into the Zone by himself. Slipstream ship can emerge near one of the system poles, from where special small slipstreams can take smaller shuttles instantly to the desired place in the Zone. If the shuttles are crewed with one lone stalker, they will occasionally return to the mother ship with the loot. But each time two or more stalkers tried to enter the Zone as a team, they dissapeared never to be heard of again.This occurrence become known as "One man rule - go alone or do not go at all".
One of the mini streams can take a stalker trained as a pilot to the mother ships graveyard. If a lone pilot can take a slipstream ship on trust drive from there to the jump area, crew is added and it becomes part of the cluster fleet. The biggest part of slipstream technology in the cluster is acquired this way.
Food of perfect quality is available everywhere, but since every transport is limited to what one man can carry, organized export is not possible.

2. Outpost, T+1, H-2, R0
Aspects: It goes through us, Armed to the teeth

Story: Outpost is a gateway to The Zone since it is the only system that has slipstream connection to it. They use this fact to prevent free trading of the artifacts. Every ship coming from The Zone must go through customs, where Outpost government takes percentage of the estimated value of each artifact. Outpost government also preserves for themselves right of first buy, and they are purchasing all artifacts they do not want to be distributed through the system - mostly food replicators and heavy weapons.
Outpost protects these rights with strongest and best equipped mobile military force in the cluster. People living on the Outpost are either stalkers, traders or solders, or some mix of the 3.
Long time ago Outpost was a H0 system, but overpopulation, extreme use of resources and pollution made living outside of artificial created environments impossible. Food is acquired from food replicators - it is not tasty but no one is hungry. Replicated food is exported to the Destination. Real grown organic food from Nest or New Hope or special food from the Zone or Glory are considered delicacy and luxury.

3. Destination, T-2, H+1, R-3. Rory's story cubes: Camera, Evergreen forest
Aspects: Holiday paradise, I work to buy the ticket out

Story: Destination's only habitable planet may seem like a perfect holiday destination - half of the planet is covered wit clear shallow oceans, while other half is covered with wast evergreen forests.
But things are not so perfect under the surface.
The evergreen trees that grow anywhere are the only native living beings on the planet. No other vegetation can grow on Destination soil. Furthermore, no part of this tree is eatable in any way for any known being - not even for bacteria.
Considering the fact that Outpost forbids food replicators to be used in any other system except their own,  Destination is forced to import already replicated food, so in this system eating is very expensive habit.
Big chunks of land on Destination are owned by rich artifact merchants or high ranked soldiers from Outpost or tribe lords from Nest. There they have they holiday villas.
Sea shores are filled with hotels where less rich but still well suited citizens of these two systems go for they annual vacations.
People born on Destination are always poor.  They work for small wages as servants, bartenders and entertainers and collect what food remains after guests finish their feasts in order to feed their families.
If a family of locals ever manage to collect some savings, they buy a place on a first slipstream ship to Outpost or New Hope.

4. Nest. T+1, H-1, R+1. Rory's story cubes: Knock, Fear face
Aspects: We can survive anything, If no one claims it - it's mine.

Story: The only habitable planet in a system is a hot desert. Tough conditions made rough people - locals belong to the tribal culture that glorifies war. Thanks to the aggressive approach and sometimes even insane bravery,  Nest has second best known army in the cluster. They are not annoyed by the fact that most other systems do not call it an army, but a pirate fleet.
If unprotected ship happens to meet Nest ship in neutral space, or even worse within Nest's territory, it will certainly be attacked and robbed. So if one goes into Nest, one goes heavily armed. Only then the brave merchant can hope to gain a good profit by exchanging artifacts from the zone for the rare delicious food in the cluster: meet and eggs of the desert lizards whom Nest tribes grow as a cattle.

5. New Hope. T-1, H-2, R0. Rory's story cubes: Present, Space suit
Aspects: Building our place under the sun, All are welcome

Story: Up to recent, this was uninhabited system. Only few hundreds of years ago, Outpost and Nest agreed that this may become a place that willing and unwilling refugees and unwanted persons from the cluster can call home. They were given limited terraforming tools and an empty system, and were allowed to build the community for themselves. Experiment is still in the early phase, but it shows results better than expected - colony grows, and they are managing even to produce some eatable plants in quantities enough to satisfy their own needs, and even to export some to Outpost.
Some important persons from Outpost are suggesting that this is a proof of Glory spreading their interest zone by helping New Hope colonists in secret, but so far no one was able to prove this claims.

6. Glory. T+3, H0, R+1.  Rory's story cubes: Safe-box , Ball falling behind man's back
Aspects: No entry! This could be heaven or this could be hell

Glory is a closed system, and in the rest of the cluster very little is known about it. Slipstreams to the system are blocked, and can be used only by ships from Glory itself. These ships are of different design than the ones taken from the Zone, and thus it is supposed that Glory developed it's own slipstream technology.
Still, slipstream ships from Glory are not seen very often. They appear only when Glory thinks that it needs to secure it's interests in the cluster, mostly messing with the plans created on Outpost or Nest - either by demonstrating military might or by delivering organic food and advanced technology to strategic places like poor villages of Destination or colonies of New Hope.
Sometimes, refugees manage to hide themselves between food or equipment crates. They plead for protection from the local government, describing Glory as the nightmarish place, where people are constantly oppressed by iron boot of the regime.
But it also happens that the most talented artist of the cluster are sometimes invited to board on the Glory slipstream ships in order to study and perform in the closed system. When they return, they describe Glory as a paradise, place where science and art create miracles unseen in other systems of the cluster.

I really like the way it turned out. 
Since food is a rare thing in the cluster, it seems to be the most important resource. 
The Zone is a great starting point for the campaign, and once I create a character I plan to start there by playing a stalker straight out of Strugacki brothers books. 
Later, there is a plenty of politics to explore, with 3 super-powers in the cluster, each with its own goals and techniques.

So, I hope to continue this game soon, using mix of Diaspora and Fate Accelerated. I will keep you informed about the progress.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Tomb of someone important (5th edition dungeon crawl part 3)

Continued from here.

Oldbook visited several monasteries, looking for a cleric willing to follow him underground.
In one of them, bard managed to catch on the rumor he was looking for (poison + dead three) - the water in the well at the entrance chamber is poisoned, due to the vine blight living there.

After two days of asking around, he was introduced to Grom, young half-orc priest of war. Two man found common language through the half-breed origin, and Grom agreed to follow Oldbook and try to stop the undead menace.

In order to reach the room with a zombie, heroes could pass by the stone jaws trap in 1 or by the giant fire beetles in 4.
They decided to go for the beetles, having in mind that once the giant insects were killed, they will have clear path back.
4 beetles were not a big issue for the bard and cleric. Heroes collected their glands and stored them for future use.
Then, Oldbook opened the wooden door, and Grom stepped in, with crossbow at the ready. There was still one zombie in the room. Pair quickly reduced him to 1hp, but thanks to Undead Fortitude, zombie refused to stay down. After 4 or 5 hits, zombie finally failed constitution check and was gone.
Then, while they were tending each other wounds, Oldbook reminded Grom that he is a cleric, and that he can kill zombies with radiant damage, something half-orc forgot in the heat of the battle.

Heroes picked up one fire beetle gland  and dropped it down into hole. At the bottom, they could see the circular antechamber to the tomb, but more importantly, another zombie climbing up. Pair prepared for a battle, and this time zombie was down quickly, thanks to the cleric's sacred flame cantrip.

After noticing that antechamber is empty, Oldbook and Grom took a short rest before venturing forward.

1. Heroes descend into antechamber. This tomb belongs to someone important - it could be seen by the way the walls were decorated. A corridor was leading east, and there were wooden doors to the south.

2.  Stable for afterlife. The owner's horse was buried here. And it was still there, as warhorse skeleton. The heroes didn't want to feel these hooves on their skin, so they retreated back into antechamber.

3. Big rectangle chamber behind the wooden door seemed empty, until another zombie guardian crawled out of the shadows. But single zombie was not a mach for cleric and bard. After killing the zombie, Oldbook wanted to leave, but Grom followed inscriptions on the wall and detected secret door. It was locked, and the pair had no means to open it. It was maybe better for all, since if the horse was too much for our heroes, meeting its owner would be certain doom for them.
Suddenly bard understood that the advice he received earlier was connected with this secret door. To open it, he will have to take the risk with the monsters in the mountains. But that seemed like a far future at that moment.

Discussing this, our heroes returned to the surface.

To be continued.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Deeper into dungeon

Continued from here.

After returning to the dungeon, Oldbook took right corridor from the room with the well.
1. Training room, containing stone jaws trap. Oldbook detected it and managed to avoid it, but will have to test to pass the trap every time he passes through this room again. Metal doors on the north are jammed. There are metal doors to south east to room 2 and passage to the north east to room 3.
2. Behind the metal doors there was a workshop for embalming the dead. Empty, no visible exits. It was a trap - sliding walls. Oldbook just turned around and closed the door.
3. Crypt. The part that was once containing graves collapsed into the lower levers. Is something coming from the chasm (25% chance)? Yes. Zombie is trying to climb up! Oldbook runs north and closes the wooden door. He will have to find another way to return to surface.
4. Giant fire beetle nest containing 4 creatures. They seem peaceful now, but who knows how they will behave next time someone comes in.
5. Crypt entrance. Cave in prevents metal door between 1 and 4 to be opened. Can it be removed (33% chance)? Extreme yes. Oldbook removes the dirt and opens the door. Now he has a way back, and he can also avoid trap in 1!
6. Crypt for less important burials. Still, steel crate blocks passage to the tombs (maybe even to prevent it's inhabitants from praying on living?). Some coins can be seen on the other side of the crate, out of reach. Oldbook decided not to disturb the dead, and returned to 5.
7. Trick - harm thief. A suit of studded leather armor is displayed on the stone altar.  Oldbook failed his perception save, so he reached for the armor that seemed to be poisoned. He took 5 damage from poison, and had to take short rest to recover.
There is wooden door to the east.
8. Antechamber. There is a trap here - locking pit filled with water. Oldbook successfully detected and avoided it.
9. Guard room, partially flooded. Otherwise empty.
10. This room will be explored later.
11. Schoolroom once, now a home for a Flumph and 2 Myconid sprouts. They seemed to be friendly, so Oldbook asked them to allow him to take a long rest. They agreed. Oldbook even received a cryptic advice from Flumph (Rory's story cubes - dice, monster's claw, mountains): "risk it with monsters in the mountains". So far without meaning, but it may develop into something later.
12. Courts. Flumph filled both of them with Shreakers, to alarm him  of unwanted presence. Lots of wooden doors leading in all directions.
13. Shreaker farm - where Flumph rises his pets. No exits.

Well rested, Oldbook decided to investigate what is behind wooden doors to the south of room 7 (area marked 10)
It was a room with no exits, but a lair for a Kobold and his pet Rat. Combat was difficult, and in the end Oldbook managed to kill his enemies, but was himself hurt and deprived of resources.

Therefore, our hero returned to the city, determined to find a henchmen - a cleric that can help him put an end to the zombie plague in room 3.

To be continued....

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

5th edition dungeon crawl, part 1

As I already mentioned on this blog, I think that 5th edition of D&D is just perfect for solo play. It has anything you need, from perfectly defined system, to good random dungeon creator.

So I tried several times to play a 5th edition dungeon crawl, but with moderate success. I was definitely doing something wrong. Then, it occurred to me that encounters are too difficult. I finally understood that the XP thresholds table on the page 82 of DM guide is meant to be used with party of 3 to 5 characters. If you use less characters, you need to implement encounter multipliers in reverse. This is actually written on page 83, but somehow I missed that info earlier.
Basically, using this system for single 1st level character, easy encounter is up to 13XP, medium from 13 to 25, hard from 25 to 38 and deadly from 38 to 50 XP.

Once I adjusted the difficulties, everything went smoothly.
And so, below you can find first write up from the (ongoing) 5th edition dungeon crawl campaign.

The hero of this story is Oldbook, half-elf bard who spent his young years working as librarian. Once the library in his home town fell into hard times, he picked his adventuring gear and descended into the famous dungeons below the city of Deepcold hoping to find enough treasures to sustain the library.

Numbers on the map correspond with the numbers in the text below
Oldbook descended into the oval room with well in the middle. After successful research test, he was able to hear roaring of some monster deep down in the well. But he failed history test, so he had no idea what monster is down there and why. Still, thanks to his researcher feat, he has a chance to find it out, once he returns to the surface.
Hall appears to be empty, and no other exits were visible. Then, Oldbook noticed the plate that triggers magic missile trap. He decided not to risk further investigation, and returned to room 1.
It was once a reception room. Oldbook was attacked by a single Strige, but he killed it easily. In the corner he found a body of a men, dried from blood. 11 Sp was lying next to it. Adventuring started to pay off, both in money and experience.
This was once a gallery - where a pictures once were, now there are only empty frames. Then, what at first seemed to be just a root of some three, started to move. It was a Twig blight. Oldbook killed it without even drawing a sweat.
Small room with no other exits. It was inhabited by a single bat and a poisonous snake. Half-elf had nothing against animals, so he decided not to disturb them and returned to room 4.
After carefully opening the wooden door, Oldbook have found himself in the chapel. A single cultist was performing some dark rite near the altar. In the battle that happened, half-elf managed to kill the cultist, but was himself hurt. He took short rest to recover to full health. Librarian also tried to recognize the signs to detect to whom is the chapel dedicated, but he could not decipher the symbols (failed religion test).
Pet room, lair of two rats. They surprised our hero and hit him for two points before he could kill them with his rapier. Room had no other exits, so he returned to chapel 6.
Portcullis leading to this guard room was closed and locked. Through the gates, Oldbook could see that the room has some coins scattered on the floor. He could also see that part of the room collapsed, leaving the chasm that probably can be used as a way to deeper levels of the dungeon.
Robbing room with no visible exits. Two shriekers were planted in the middle of it. Behind them, Oldbook could see some ceremonial items. Bard decided to run past the fungi and take the items. As it was expected, Shriekers sounded the alarm. Oldbook was not waiting to see who will answer it. He took items and started running back. Once he entered the chapel, he noticed that portcullis was now open. But he also noticed that something was climbing up the chasm. It was a Ghast. So Oldbook left the chapel closing the wooden door behind him and moved fast towards the exit from the dungeon. Lucky for him, Ghast was not giving a chase. The creature stayed in the chapel, probbably feasting on the body of dead cultist.

Out of the dungeon...
Oldbook stayed in the city and took the long rest, paying 2gp for comfortable life style.  He examined objects he brought from the dungeon - a mask, a chalice and a bone dice. Finally he realized - temple in the underground was dedicated to Orcus, demon god of the undead!
Bard spent next two days looking for a merchant willing to buy the items. Finally he found one who give him 27gp for the 3. Less then he hoped for, but beggars can not be choosy.
Librarian also tried to acquire some information about the monster in the well, but everywhere he ask he was met with the wall of silence.
So, he purchased some dried rations that can last in the dungeon just in case, and returned into the underground...

To be continued.

Monday, July 13, 2015

To sleep, perchance to dream....

I had a busy time last week, with 3 days on the businesses trip and the rest of the time settling loose ends in the office, so this is the reason for the final write-up of my Far Away Land solo game being late.
But finally, I found some time on my hands, and I managed to successfully pass Wits test of "Read your own handwriting" to continue with the adventure.

Q6. Hanging + Space capsule (intrigue and pursuit)
After the last teleportation, Booklet finds himself in Materiosphere, But instead of being on the ground, he is teleported in the cabin of a space ship. He tries to manipulate the ship, but nothing happens, ship just hangs there in the orbit.

Then, a Soracan appears, and shoots the ship to the ground using it's eye and mouth Lazers.

Soracans are giant floating robotic heads. They are known to be extremely selfish and arrogant, looking down on all other races, sometimes even their own. They are violent creature and view all non-construct life as inferior.

Booklet survives the fall taking only 2 damage, so he has 7HP left.

Q7. Booklet leaves destroyed space ship and runs towards the settlement of dreamers. Soracan follows him, constantly shooting. 
Sarocan is Dex 5, while Let is Dex 3 + evade 1. Sarocan rolls 7, Booklet 6, so he is hit for 1+D6 (3) to total of 4 points. He has 3 HP left.

Rory's story cube: Push + Allen face.
When Booklet enter the settlement of Dreamers, he felt strange peace. His wounds were cured (returned to 12HP). It was like the dream has made a barrier around the settlement, through which no harm can pass. 

Q8. Rory's story cubes: Lock + Throwing + Chemicals
Other Soracans appear, and they made a wall outside the settlement, to divide the Dream from the rest of the world. 
The whole settlement is dreaming. No one seems to care about Soracans action.
Booklet found a spare bed, and went to sleap, hoping to communicate with the sleaping people through the dream.

Q9. Rory's story cube: Paw + Syringe +  Wrestler with a mask 
So, Booklet is sleeping, and he is now just one of the dreamers the Dream of Wound Healing (Paw). The Dream is highly addictive (Syringe), and he will not awake until a hero (Wrestler) breaks through the Soracan barrier and wakes the sleepy town. But will this ever happen? Who knows...

And yes, Booklet picked up enough experience to become level 2 character. He can now dream a little bit better than earlier, if it makes any difference at all.

The end.  

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Betrayal of Nothingness Crabs (FAL+9Qs adventure part II)

Continued from here.

Q2. Rory's story cubes: Sea + Crab (pursuit)
Big Nothingness Crab (Dex 2) shows itself and starts chasing Booklet. As soon as he saw the crab, our hero started running, and few dice rolls later the crab was lost behind.
But Booklet gets tired from running (-1 action per round).

Q3. Rory's story cubes: Calculator + Give something + Ambulance car
3 more (D6 roll) crabs appeared out of nowhere (as if there is some somewhere around), picked up Booklet and started carrying him deeper into nothingness. Let was not harmed during the process (which can be probably be considered as miracle).
Booklet checked if there are some notes about Nothingness Crabs in the Book of Lore, but there was nothing.
Seeing that he can not resist Crabs, Let decided to try and sleep during the trip (remove the tired status).
Sudden stop awakened him. Crabs stopped by the (Rory's cubes: antenna + ordering at the bar + pointer) machine that looked like dimensional portal that could get Booklet out of nothingness.
Being curious about the machine, Booklet tried to operate it (wits test with target number 6. It uses manipulate boon. Rolled 6, 6, 5 and 3, success!). Machine started buzzing and Booklet was teleported out of nothingness into some something-ness.
There, he was greeted by a  mean looking (Rory's cubes: fairy + wolf + sword fighting) Fairy Wolver Fencer (created mixing stats from Fairy and Wolver monsters from FAL Creatures vol. 1 Book.)
Thanks to the fact that Wolver missed, and Booklet rolled good and hit twice in a roll, Wolver was easily killed without a scratch on our hero.

Q5. Rory's story cubes: Cauldron + wigwam (betrayal/combat)
But then, Booklet realized that he is not where he wanted to be. Instead, he found himself deep within Abyssmalsphere, home of the demons. One Imp (stats from free Jargogles Bestiary) closed to attack the intruder.
After 9 rounds of combat, Imp was dead, and Let managed to escape with just some light wounds (9HP left), although wthout the aquarium helmet which was shattered during the fight.
Booklet consulted his book of Lore again, and learned (comedy/tragedy masks + walk + terrified face) where can the portal be found within the Abyssmalsphere. The book suggested that the portal is guarded, and that anyone who is not demon should try to approach it masked.
So, using spare imp parts, Let masked himself es demon.
First, he had to pass by the group of imp guards.
It is a wits test, with imps rolling 1 die for wits statistic and 1 additional die due to the fact that there is a group of creatures. Let will roll 3 dice for wits and one for manipulate boon. Let rolls 5, and imps roll ...5. Success for Booklet, but just due to the rule that ties are always resolved in favor of PC.
Imps looked suspiciously at masked booklet, but he kept his cool and just walked by. Even if some imp noticed something strange, he will soon forget about it, doing what imps usually do...
The next and final guard was a Tailless demon (WIT 3).
Booklet decided first to try and sneak past the guard (having 50/50 chance, I decided to go with the sneak first, because even if the first roll fails, there is a second 50/50 roll to see if the guard will see through the mask. But the first roll was a success, so there was no need to worry)
Guard was probably sleeping with eyes open, and Let passed him by with no problems.
Reaching dimensional machine, Booklet teleported himself out of Abyssmalsphere.

To be continued....

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Far Away Land and 9Qs adventure, part 1

Far Away Land is a lighthearted D6 RPG with very interesting mechanics - you roll number of dices and keep only the best result. The game puts a lot on humor, and should be played that way, which I really like.
It is of course indie Kickstarter project and as such it suffers from some inconsistency, unexplained details and editorial mistakes, but it is nothing that can not  be solved by common sense. The Quick start rules are free, so you can test them.

As one of my holiday animations, I decided to play a 9Qs adventure using these rules.

Let me introduce you to my hero - Booklet Fanzine, Let for short.
His stats are:
Brute 1, Dexterity 2 and Wits 3. He is a Bookworm (WIT 1) who is working as a handy man in the library, and there he learned to Manipulate (WIT 1) both objects and people, and to Evade (DEX 1) unwanted customers and librarians. His main flaw is Curiosity (that often kills the cat).

To start the adventure, I used Aladdin technique.
After all modifications, the main thread is: Let is following a story from the Book of Lore looking for the human settlement where Dream (was book, but it got altered by Rory's cube of sleeping face) of Wound Healing (added by Rory's cube of crossed bandages) knowledge is hidden. But (scissors cutting paper + teleport) someone or something wants this travel to end early.

Q1: Safe-box, pointer, house.
Booklet spent his youth working in Londol libraries as handy man. So, from time to time he was able to steal some old tome from dusty shelves and read it - for reading was his hidden passion. His latest catch was called Book of Lore, tome containing mostly useless knowledge from all around Far Away Land. (the book is not magical, but it contains lots of information. If I decide to search the book, I roll the die. If the result is 1 or 6, the book contains the required info. Then, I will roll the die again - on new roll of 1 or 6 the info is wrong. WIT test of 6+ is required for Booklet to know that the knowege in the book is not real).
After opening the book randomly before sleep, Booklet learned that somewhere in the world exists the human settlement that dreams the Dream of Wound Healing Knowledge. Reading about dreams made him sleepy, so he went to bed.
But when he awoke next morning, his house was strangely quiet. There was no familiar noise of Londol streets. And when he looked through the window, he could see nothing. Literary. He opened the door, and there was nothing outside. No city, no sky, no land, just nothing. Booklet was still in his house, but in the same time he was lost in the middle of nowhere in the way he could never imagine possible.
the Nothingness
Booklet checked the Book of Lore, and found the entry about nothingness (there is a knowledge, but wrong one. Booklet failed the wits check, so he will follow instructions from the book. Instructions are - siren light, space suit). In there was a picture of the astronaut, wearing some strange round helmet and carrying a torchlight. Let decided to follow the picture. He equipped himself with torchlight and started looking around the house for a helmet. He noticed the empty aquarium. Long time ago, it contained a fish called Wanda, but since Booklet regularly forgot to feed it, one day fish just moved away from his house, leaving behind rather angry Dear John letter.
Let put the aquarium on his head and was satisfied with it, since he almost looked like the astronaut in the book. 
Booklet also took big kitchen knife that could double as a short sword, some food he had left in his house, and then he stepped out into nothingness.
He walked and walked, until he was completely lost. He was unable to find his house again (or anything else, actually).