Friday, January 29, 2016

Tarot of the Holy Grail - ALONe playtest part 2

Continuing from here.

This session is a double playtest, as I am not only testing ALONe, but also my idea to use Dixit cards as random idea generator.

Tension set to 4.
Catalyst/location: fire at popular hangout.
Sensory snippet: constricting around your neck.
After a long day filled with paperwork, Balthazar was siting by the bar of The Red Parrot, drinking his first glass of wine, when fire suddenly erupted in the pub. The room was quickly filled with choking smoke.

Does Balthazar have portable respirator with him? He is coming from work, so he may have some gadgets with him for +1. He is also better equipped than average agent so +1 here. 
Instead of using system from alone, I decided to start with 5 as average, and then to add or remove bonuses from that, as it seems more intuitive for me. So, my hero gets 7. He gets 4 - good odds, and result of yes, but (AIR) - what he has is not real respirator but hand made.
Can he get out of the pub (+1 for home made respirator) - even odds, yes.
Balthazar is not the one to be affected by little smoke. He grabbed some liqueur, spilled it into handkerchief and put it to his nose. This should work as respirator for a little while. Trying to breathe as little as possible, our hero got out of the pub before the building collapsed.
After the fire settled down, Balthazar tried to discover some clues in the debris (no modifiers, even odds, no, water - and) but he was unable to find anything. Further more, he was removed from the site by the police officers before he was able to explain anything.

Since the first beat ended on the low note, I decided to call for help 9Qs to push the story forward. So, next beat will correspond with question 2: what unusual event occurs soon afterwards?
Catalyst/location: hit by a stray shot at cafe.
Sensory snippet: a stone slab slamming to the ground.
The very next morning, Balthazar was at cafe drinking his morning tea, when a gun shot was heard and a bullet hit his cup, shattering it. 
Our hero tried to determine from which direction did the bullet come (no modifiers, bad odds, NO!) but he was unable to do it. And as gun shot made all customers panicking, even if he could, he would not be able to spot attacker among the running bystanders.

I could continue with 9Qs here, but I decided to change the peace and do something proactive. So...
Tension set to 5.
As two attacks on his life in two days seemed to much to be coincidence, Balthazar started asking around trying to learn as much as possible about the attackers, from sources both live (+1 Ser Arthur Weaver) and dead (+1 James Tailor) - 4. Odds Good, yes, air - but.
The answer come as the blurry hint from the world of dead (Dixit cards):
Balthazar will be forced to cross his ways with Actors from the Circle of Grail.

As the random number is lower than Tension, random event also happened. To see what happened, I used Dixit cards again. This time, best result was achieved by reading them from right to left.
A Stranger is Arriving for Dinner.
What is the stranger's intention? Rune draw - Uruz - Requesting strength and courage.

Tell me more about the stranger: crown/skull/sun - important undead bringing revelation.
Vice: Envy. Virtue: Chastity. Possession: Tarot cards.
Next night, Balthazar was visited by the ghost of medieval saint Audrey Sable, who told him that the Holly Grail is within reach, and that he is the one destined to find it and protect it. Grail is located in the area of the village Abigail, but can only be discovered by the one able to decipher St. Audrey's tarot cards. With that words, ghost dissapeared.

Tension set to 4.
Balthazar starts research in order to find the grave of St. Audrey Sable. (+1 for his history knowledge and +1 knowing that he should look around Abigail village. Odds even, yes, air - but). He was able to locate the grave, only to learn that archaeologist have already investigated through the site, and that all items from area are transferred to Abigail History Museum or sold to private collections.
Balthazar visited Museum to see if the Tarot cards are there. Using his history knowledge to impress curators (+1) he finds that the Tarot deck is indeed located in Museum vaults. Further more, local authorities allowed Balthazar to examine the cards IF (Fire) he promises that Holly Grail, once found, will be first exhibited in Abigail History Museum.

To be continued....

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Jatacenje Con No. 10 and other news

10th Jatacenje gaming conference was held last weekend. As every year, I celebrate this event with some action photographs.


In other news, my most successful print and play game Thermopylae Solo was translated to Spanish last week, thanks to the efforts of Mr. Diego Roman. Both English and Spanish version of the game can be downloaded from game's personal blog post.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

ALONe playtest part 1: character creation

ALONe is a free solo RPG product by Larcenous Designs LLC, currently in its BETA test phase. Files for the game can be found here. ALONe uses cards from the Game Master's Apprentice deck, but you do not need to buy the cards - the black and white version of them is included with BETA test files of ALONe. I have a basic deck in physical form, so I used these cards to play.

For me, ALONe has some similarities with FATE RPG - descriptors from ALONe have strong resemblance to FATE aspects, so when I started playing had to resist a temptation to turn it into FATE game. At the end, I added different bits to the pool, found my sweet spot mixing various influences into game that suited my playing stile, and it all resulted with a very satisfying solo experience.

I wanted to play steampunk detective, in the line of agents from Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences books.
So, I started turning cards.
Family: crown/sword/shield
Balthazar Lance was a son of politically active nobleman Virgil Lance. His family lived on a estate mansion, where young boy felt protected from the dangers of the outside world. As he was seen to be a hair to his father's political position, he was pressed from early age to learn arts, philosophy, history and law.
Descriptor: Specialized in social sciences.
As I did not want to spend Fragments during character creation, I made descriptors in such a way that they represent both one positive and one negative aspect. In this case, descriptor will grant +1 when Balthazar uses his social sciences knowledge, and -1 when solution depends on natural or technical sciences.

Childhood: skull/moon/sword
One day, Balthazar's father dissapeared without a trace. He went to the office as usual but he never returned. Further more, it was as his existence was erased - clerks in his office claimed that such a man newer worked there; banks had no accounts to the name Virgil Lance, etc. Family suddenly found itself with limited funds. They had to sell mansion and move into rented apartment in the city. They did not fell so low to consider themselves poor, but all family members had to work to fill the budget.
Balthazar put his knowledge to the good use and become a tutor to children of the middle class.
Random event: Follow Ghostly Kid
One of Balthazar's best students was a terminally ill kid named James Taylor. When James eventually passed away, Balthazar cried himself to sleep. But that very night, James come to his dreams just to ask a question about philosophy lecture from the day before. The lectures continued regularly, as James visited Balthazar's dreams at least once a week.
Descriptor: Connected to the other side.
(+1 to gain knowledge from other side, -1 to resist attacks coming form the world of death)

Youth: wand/hearth/sun
One evening, while he was returning home from the lecture, Balthazar's way was crossed by the strange man. Boy needed some time to recognize strange figure for who he really is - his long lost father, Virgil. Virgil Lance was now influential member of RSSPE - Royal Secret Service department created to battle Paranormal Enemies of the country. And he wanted his sun to join the organization. Balthazar was happy to accept, and so he spent next couple of years in special wing of military school, learning how to help the crown defeat enemies of the state.
Random event: Convince Profitable Monument
Thanks to history knowledge gained in early life, during one of the studying trips to Archives,  Balthazar was able to recognize (possession table check) Ancient Artifact: cultural relic - death mask of faro Tutankhamen. He presented this to his father, and he decided to give the mask to National museum, to be publicly displayed. RSSPE collected royalties from every visitor of the mask room, and that significantly improved financial status of the Service. As personal reward, Balthazar was allowed access to the state of the art equipment.
Descriptor: Better equipped than average agent.
(+1 to have what he needs in his possession, -1 relations with other agents due to their envy)

Coming of age: wand/hearth/sword
Random event: Replace Bewildering Tension
Catalyst: Villain Vs. Villain Fight. Vice: Lust Vs. Greed.
On one of his first assignments as agent, Balthazar followed thugs working for crime lord Ser Arthur Weaver, known smuggler of arcane objects. When thugs accidentally summoned succubus from one of the relics, Balthazar helped them banish her. This earned him a respect from Ser Weaver, who from that moment on tried to stay out of Balthazar's way, and was even ready to help young agent in the case of need.
But succubus Igraine Zooma did not forget the affair, and she is constantly plotting Balthazar's downfall.
Descriptor: Selected lesser evil.
(+1 when confronted by human criminals; -1 against demons)

To be continued.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Gauls Vs. Romans part 2

As Roman army advanced between two hills, Gallic army was ready to meet them in battle.

I fielded Gauls infantry (9 warbands) in a single line, with general in chariots and auxiliary horse as separate body at the back.

Romans were fielded as 2 units deep 3 units wide body at the center (Principes and one Hestati unit in the first line, 2x Triari including general and one Hestati in the second). Single cavalry unit on right wing, auxiliary infantry and skirmishers on the left.
 Roman cavalry at the right wing started probing Gallic line.
Gauls destroyed Roman left wing but were unable to turn in time to make the difference. Romans used this to break through center, killing Gallic chief and taking enemy army to break point.
Victory for Romans.
Roman strategy worked great. In the center, once the front units reached Gallic line, result of the first melee usually made both units disordered. Romans then used line relief to put fresh forces into fight and that was enough to destroy Gallic warbands, who were usually unable to use benefits of counter-charge due to the contact with other unit, and even when they could, they would run into front of the ordered phalanx where spears negated shock effect.

For the next game, I would have to think about good  strategy for Gauls in order for them to be able to break well organized Roman center.

I have to say that I really like ABC rules. Games are quick (last from 30 min to one hour), fun and straightforward.  These are the rules you can always find time for, no matter how busy your schedule is.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Gauls VS Romans part 1

During the 2016, I plan to start two new periods in my wargaming world. One will be WW1, and another is ancient history.

For this second period I have already selected some good sets of rules - free solo friendly rules Ancient Battlelines Clash by Shaun Travers are definitely among them.

On the other hand, I have too many miniatures for all periods and scales, so I definitely needed something quick, dirty and budget friendly. Therefore, I decided to go with the paper miniatures.

Photo above shows my new armies - Polybian Romans Vs. Gauls. Miniatures are scaled to 10mm and based on 10x20mm for infantry, 15x20mm for cavalry and 20x20mm for chariots in order to play on 30x30cm table.
All Romans are taken from Junior general web page. Picture above shows more than 110 points of Polybian Romans according to ABC points system, that should be enough to play even very large  Roman civil wars games.
I wanted to make Gauls from Asterix comic, but I was unable to find appropriate miniatures. With heavy heart, I had to go with regular army.
While Junior General have some nice Gallic warbands, there are no good miniatures for cavalry or chariots, so I had to turn to commercial sources - Lvmenes has a good 2 part set of Romans and Gauls.
So far I have made 35 point Gaul army. I will have to build more warbands in order to field larger force.

I will add some battle reports soon.