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Topics - Sean F

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other lumpley games / Mobile Frame Zero part acquisition
« on: March 03, 2015, 12:47:23 AM »
Observations :

1 : Some public libraries (and many college campuses) now have Makerbots and similar 3D Printers available for public use at a nominal fee.  See also : Fabrication Laboratory.   I haven't done the math on a Lego-compatable brick, but a meeple of plastic costs 1/4th the price printed at my library as one ordered off gamecrafter (1/3rd if you buy in bulk)

2 : offers free, light weight, web based milling / extruding file creation tools for use with such machines.

3 : As of 03 March 2015 the website's entry  on "Lego" includes the metric measurements for standard and thin blocks.   (See also  for issues and historical precedents involving legality of producing such bricks)

If you're a non-purist I don't see why you couldn't make whole mech components single printed pieces with appropriate attachment vacancies / extrusions. 

brainstorming & development / La Dureza
« on: February 24, 2015, 03:19:43 AM »

A weird little thing - as much Poison'd, Murderous Ghosts and OtherKind as *World.  Maybe moreso.

Built to be played once, MAYBE twice.  Estimated runtime of an hour and change.  Personal playtest upcoming, danger seekers desired for testing with other groups.

other lumpley games / Doomed Pilgrim AP
« on: January 23, 2015, 11:15:03 AM »
Setup  :

(New game) I’m a warrior seeking peace and an end to bloodshed. I’m on pilgrimage to the Temple to No Gods in the distant City of Gulls. My pilgrimage has brought me to mountains yet unsummitted by man, inhabited by enemies of my people. My goal is to pass safely through and continue my pilgrimage.
You, my friends online, play the world. Your goal is to see me to my doom, instead of safely on my way. You’re allowed only to directly answer my direct questions, though, so you might not be able to do it.
The rules: 1. Only answer my questions. 2. If you don’t already know the answer, make something up. 3. Keep your answers short. 4. If your answer’s disruptive, I’m allowed to delete it. 5. Otherwise, I have to go with the first answer somebody gives. I’ll 'like' it. 6. You may subscribe to this thread if you like. Please use the sentence ‘no gods watch over you’ to do so.

For three days I sought a Sherpa to guide me : no one took the duty on. Advancing slowly up the frozen heights of Icengard alone I've come to recognize a wasteland unlike those I've become accustomed to : less the inhospitable boiling sand kept alive by nighttime crawlers and scavengers, more a dead space of frozen bones and icy nothingness, climbing ever higher. The climbing, 15 degrees or so, slowly but noticeably drains my strength. I can walk upright but am worn to the point of leaning forward : using my arms to help me overcome the terrain of this last mountain.
I've been journeying for three months now. I have the summoning name of a ghost buried in my memory and a vast and deadly patience. With the sun threatening to settle in an hour I have scrapped a length of rock clean and begun preparing a fire. Something warns me of approaching danger : What warns me? Anyone should answer.

Player One : Directly behind you a twig snaps and a shadowy figure is visible when you turn your head.

My hand freezes, prone to strike steel on flint. I try to watch it out of the corner of my vision : Has this shadowy figure definitely seen me? Can I make it out, watching it as I am, or is it somehow shadowy by it's nature? Smitty should answer...

I tall thin man steps through the shadows, his careful swift step allows you to know the snapping twig was intentional and not the clumsy inept step of a drunk. He steps closer and is obviously armed with a bow and a small sword. Dressed in dark clothing he pauses and waits to see the reaction of this new lone stranger.

Trying my best to control my shaking, I stretch my arm out and offer him a length of my last remaining bison jerky. Mentally I try to map out escape routes, both up and down this eternal mountain, my eyes on him the whole time. Does it seem suspicious / violent yet? ANYONE can answer.

Player Two : He steps forward and reaches for the jerky with his right hand, while the left crosses his chest to rest on his sword. He keeps his body at a diagonal to you, careful not to expose himself as too large a target. He takes hold of the jerky, but does not pull it from your hand.

I let go of my end. I'm still in a crouch/hunker from tending the fire : maybe I can spring into him and knock him down the mountain. Or I could jump away and run up it a ways. Given the violent nature of my people's enemies I doubt remaining here with him is prudent.
Which looks more promising, fight or flee? While I weight the options does anything happen? Anyone can answer.

Player Three : From behind him the sound of rustling leaves is heard. Perhaps he is not alone, but a part of a of patrol.

Ahhh, the bow makes running uphill too slow, and if he has brush to his back I'm unlikely to knock him down the mountainside from my position. It will be dark soon though, I may be able to evade him/them.

Since his sword's in the crossdraw position and his other hand is full he can't draw when I spring into him, knocking him backwards momentarily, and take off down the embankment, weaving a bit and seeking a crevice or brush to place between us. Is there a place where I might lose him (and his band, if such exists)? Anyone can answer.

No promising hiding spot presents itself. There are shrubs and gulleys, but no convenient caves or woods to disappear into. But he/they do not follow you from that spot. He/they clear out anything you may have left at your makeshift camp, and fade into the wide and silent twilight.

Night comes fast in the mountains. I'm unlikely to be the first to successfully summit these colossal beasts, which means I still need to go through the area I just ran from. After waiting for the grey twilight to settle into pitch I creep back and onward, staying low and refraining from using any lights. This in itself endangers me, given the fractured and fracturing nature of the terrain, but I need to watch for the hunting party (or whatever they were) and my attention is split. Do I feel watched? Anyone can answer.

You feel the eyes of nocturnal predators watching you, wheter this is real or imagined you can't be quite sure of. You hear the sounds of Owls whooing off in the distance. You once agin feel the presence of another, though differant than the last time. You turn to see a figure of something you really wish you hadn't, you know in a instant that what you are looking square in the eyes is a moutain lion.

Ahhh!!! The worst thing I could run into out here. There is no way I can escape a mountain lion - it's faster by far and more familiar with the terrain. I'll have to risk the attention of the hunting party again. I draw my self up to full height and furrow my brow at the beast - hopefully it has tangled with the locals enough to fear man. Hopefully.  "What do you want, ugly clump of fur? Cause I haven't eaten in ages, and you're looking pretty tasty kitty."  Does it attack? Anyone can answer

It slowley creeps closer to you, not looking away, it sniffs the air around you. It readys as if ready to pounce.

Mountain lions attack by grabbing your shoulders, mauling your face with their maws, and rapidly kicking downward THROUGH the guts with their giant clawed hind legs. I want to pre-emp that, and I might be able to fight free from it. Screaming, I lunge for him before he (she?) can pounce. Does it withdraw and give me the opportunity to go?  Anyone can answer.

You catch it off guard, it wasn't expecting to be attacked. You knock it on it's back, dazed it slowly trys to get back up, leaving itself open until it can regain it's pose

It is too dangerous for me to run from it, here. I need to make it want to run from me or kill it. With no time to search for a suitable rock, and not wanting to bend over to pick one up even if I found it, I dash forward and stomp on its stomach, HARD, with my sandalled foot. As many times as I can.
Does it die or flee... or something else?  Anyone can answer

The big cat reacts angrily. Imagine a domestic cat who doesn't want to get his tummy rubbed, but bigger. He grabs at your calf with his front two paws and rakes up your leg with his back two, all claws protruded. He bites at your foot and a sandal does little to protect it. His bites don't crush bone, but they give a nasty, gristly feeling as they slide between tendons. Cat's mouths are disgusting places, and their bites are guaranteed to produce copious volumes of pus within about a week. What sort of clothing do you have? His claws will shred fabric, but more layers will leave you with more superficial wounds. If you have one layer of fabric, you will have gashes up to 8 inches long (but mostly about 4) and up to three quarters of an inch deep (but mostly about a quarter inch). One layer of leather will reduce that by two thirds. Whether your sandal has a thick sole will determine if his teeth penetrate your foot from the bottom, but they definitely do from the top.

He is holding your leg with his front two paws the same way a disgruntled kitty holds your hand when he gets an unwanted tummy rub; loosely, with the apparent intention to deter, not devour. He continues to gnaw at your foot and rake at your leg.

(I appreciate the details : Good one [Player Two]!)
My sandals are worn down to practically nothing from the long march over the desert. Both teeth easily find deep flesh. My leg is, in all likelihood, ruined. Even if I somehow survive this completing my journey to the temple of no gods just went from unlikely to improbable.
If I can't get away now it will kill me. I screech the summoning name of the man I drowned over a half peck of carrots during the Last War and lay as still as my screaming pain will allow, my eyes closed. The bastard ghost has haunted every dream of mine since the day I killed him - either the cat will consider his presence eerie enough to leave its fresh kill and I can try to piece myself together, or the ghost will have the pleasure of watching nature take the revenge he couldn't.
I lie with my eyes closed and await my fate.
Does the mountain lion kill me? Anyone can answer.

Player Four : Since your eyes are closed you feel and hear several things at once. You hear an unearthly laughter above you and a brief gust of wind that swirls. You hear the growl of the creature and the pressure you felt on your leg is released. You also hear the familiar twang and whoosh of bow firing arrow. You hear the arrow strike something hard, well away from you. After a moment, you hear a sound of anger above you and all is quiet. Your leg is wet.

I think my leg has been wet since I first saw the cat!
I peek - the mountain lion has departed as hoped for, silent against the gusting wind. At the edge of my night vision I can make out a figure throwing something thin, curved, and chest high away and swatting frantically around his face as if being attacked by a swarm of bees. He trips on a lump of something at his feet - he goes down and the lump rolls slightly. Whatever he threw changes directions in midair a few times, even rising higher once before settling on the ground, buffeted by winds I can no longer hear. Biting my one remaining sandal between my teeth to silence my whimpers I climb downward on my hands and one good leg, belly in the air and eyes on the scene above, like a wounded crab.
When what little contrast between man and mountain disappears and my vision loses the flailing body in the night sky I roll over on my belly and crawl downward. A days walk behind me was the town of Blackened Wells - if I can crawl that far I might find a wetnurse or shaman for this leg. Maybe I'll circumvent the mountains and slog the longer route through the Longmoor of the predatory bandit-ghouls.
Near dawn I finally reach level ground and the end of the mountain, and I'm happy to put it behind me.
The End.

(For the mechanics of what just happened, or if you want to start your own Doomed Pilgrim game, check out . The creator played a game on his forum and ran a Q&A here - >
Thanks for playing guys!

That is a really weak ending. You went no where near your goal.

AW:Dark Age / Single Combat
« on: September 30, 2014, 01:09:12 PM »
How do you folks indicate your choices when in Single Combat?  If both sides spend blindly it implies doing *something* to lock down the decision so that the second person to vocalize their choice can not change to adjust to the first speakers choices.

Firstly, there's an audio recording of this.  But it is five hours long, rambles off topic, has variable audio quality, and has swearing, inside puns, half-audible background music, and dead baby jokes, so... consider yourself warned.
Part 1 :
Part 2 :

We've all played Dungeon World before.  I re-read Apocalypse World twice in the last few weeks and listened to a few podcasts in preparation but I haven't ever played it.

Setup took almost exactly the first two and a half hours.  I think I might have been well off to keep it going longer - I was surprised at how involved everyone got in the game before they had characters to play.  It was easy during the setup to figure out possible points of contention between the player characters.

Starting with the stronghold setup was logical, and I think drawing the map really helped nail down what the settlement is about.  The group decided on a village surrounding a Temple placed atop the largest local hill.  This 'holy' town rests near two larger 'countries' that may some day invade, but haven't yet since they don't consider it worth offending those gods worshiped there.  A stone wall surrounds the Temple and the burrowed living areas of the quasi-Druidic 'clergy' of the area.  Spotting towers were placed at one point of the wall and three points surrounding the open area where most of the people lived and worked.  Raiders, a local warlord, and a newly-rediscovered ancient enmity threaten it, while it is protected by the hill, stone wall, watch towers, and a series of wells.  The armory carries enough spears, hides, helms, and bows for twenty souls.  Four of the Pikes (the Celtic Druidic people) carry such as guards of the Temple itself, while 16 souls follow the War Captain in defense of the entire town.  The Wicker-Wise took on an apprenticeship position, just below the Elder of the Temple.  The Peasant Beauty works a field down in the town at the base of the hill.  The Legatus (emissary) admitted his plan to the table to manipulate the town into taking the land between them and the sea since his bosses back in Sorrentelli thought they'd make better trade partners than the actual occupants. 

Everyone ended up making their own People.  The town has a hodge-podge of languages like New Amsterdam, although we all assumed they're predominately using either Celtic (the Pikes / Druids) or Welsh (the common folk).

** On the Peasant Beauty's sheet, there's a move that affects "Someone here" (sees your power, is afraid of you, craves your counsel, must come to know you, or becomes infatuated with you).... the miss condition would logically be assigned by the MC.  Are the 'someone's picked by the player on a hit chosen by the player or the MC?  We assumed MC.

Starting with season moves was a good play - the War Captain rolled horribly and was wounded while fighting raiders.  The Peasant Beauty's father died peacefully, leaving him to lead his family.  The Legatus/Emmisary saw a nearby town, one they struggle against fairly often, preparing for war on his way in.  So right there I've got three things to run with as MC : How does the Peasant Beauty deal with the new familial and social obligations?  What does the town do with the knowledge their old enemies are up to new tricks, IF the Legatus tells them?  Does the War Captain slow down to avoid further wounds, or prostrate himself to the Wicker Wise for healing, or suck it up and risk permanent wounding.

Wandering back into town, bleeding profusely from the face, the War Captain sees the fires of the Wicker Wise's bonfire-ceremony to dispose of the Peasant Beauty's father.  He is also addressed by his head servant (who watches the criminals working hard labor at the War Captain's farm) telling him that the visitor he was waiting for has arrived.  He was expecting no one, and went home to find this fancily dressed stranger eating at his table.  As he argued with the Legatus over whether he should be put up in his fine estate, he had his servant bring him clean linens and prepare to sew his wounds with cat gut.  The Legatus ended up getting kicked out, and loses his poison kit to the thief working off his labor for the War Captain (a miss on winning the War Captain over)  He wanders to the temple to see what the smoke is about and, because of his garish dress, draws the eye of the Peasant Beauty.

The Peasant Beauty and the War Captain get into a verbal argument after the service for the dead, wherein the War Captain tells the Peasant Beauty that if he feels he can defend the town he is welcome to the job.  He pulled his soldiers back to the Temple's half-wall, leaving the Peasant Beauty to muster warriors to defend the town.  Soon they're running through the town, ready for war.  The enemy never came though, and in time they made peace with the soldiers and the War Captain.  Lines were drawn, then erased.... but it became clear that the War Captain can do as he likes with the loyalty of the dedicated warriors, but the Peasant Beauty can easily sway the masses and has the ear of the Legatus. 

Another season - the harvest is lighter than they hoped it would be, since the farmers were skittish about going too far from the protection of the town with the impending raid.  The Wicker-Wise spend the season performing rites, and caught a vision of a beast feasting on a boysenberry bush.  After eating the fruits it ate the greenest, newest shoots.  The bush grew new thorns to protect itself, and the beast became heavily scratched but healed quickly.  It tore the bush from the ground, then moved on to a new berry bush...
The War Captain wisely rested and healed up.

** When you take harm from soldiering via the season move, that damage is calculated AFTER damage becomes permanent.... right?

The Peasant Beauty went to work his landlord's field.  The Legatus traveled east to find news from a larger land, and learned that a fleeing army was on it's way.  He also passed through the town where the warriors were training for war (Angyng) and found it deserted.

Two carts of survivors from the town of Angyng arrived seeking refuge.  No males above the age of twelve were amongst them - they told of a Night Beast their husbands and kin went to slay the last time they saw them alive.  The Wicker-Wise reasoned that going to that town and tipping over all their totems would please his gods and count as a Sacrifice the next time he made an enchantment, and the War Captain took half of his men with some peasants to recover what remains of their harvest. 

A ghost town exists between the two settlements.  The force stopped there to tap their well, but found it marked with runes akin to those from a graveyard.  The Wicker-Wise asked the warriors to recover the bodies he sensed within, and the War Captain went down personally to do so, recovering twelve baby/infant corpses in various stages of decay, eight of them bearing massive deformities.  Ridged, scaled spines, claw-like hands, cloven feet, etc.  The Wicker-Wise went into The Other World and learned something there, although when he awoke all he remembered was feeling the vague touch of the Wicker Witch.  He did awake in a pool of his own vomit and fecees though, both loaded with boysenberries... which he had not eaten in the last few weeks.

After making an improvised bonfire from one of the town's abandoned buildings and sending the child souls to their final reward, the Wicker Wise and the War Captain's party move onward to the more recently abandoned town.  Within it, while the Wicker Wise and his prodigy went around chopping down totems, the War Captain tracked a set of prints through the snow that were made after the escaping womenfolk left.  It lead to, and away from, a small home which yet contained a baby, wrapped in many blankets and on death's door. 

Meanwhile, thievery has skyrocketed back in the stronghold and her village.  The Peasant Beauty is being looked to to resolve it while the War Captain, who had set up a personally-dictated martial law system, is unavailable. 

That's where we broke it off.  The War Captain is holding a half-dead baby, new tracks leading off into the woods, peasants ready to start harvesting what is still salvageable from the snow-covered abandoned fields.  The Wicker Wise is getting visions of danger.  The foreign emissary, technically without authority here, is throwing extra weight behind the Peasant Beauty.  A fleeing foreign army is going to pass nearby, possibly directly over them all and their relatively small town.   

Both the Peasant Beauty and the War Captain got a point of New Nobility experience for their scrapping over the way the town would be lead while under threat.  I enjoy the implication of the way experience works - by faking authority to rule the people, and sticking to his guns, the Peasant Beauty has begun to acquire legitimate ruling authority.  That's brilliant.

The group is a bit wary of the lack of 'investigative roll'.  I'm going to go with the DITV method in the next game and hide nothing they could reasonably see or hear about, and tell them I'm doing so when the session starts.

AW:Dark Age / Carpenter
« on: September 19, 2014, 12:46:40 AM »
In another forum post,

Vincent stated
"[...] the blacksmith is essential to this group of playbooks in mythic terms. The Wicker-wise, the Court Wizard, and the Dragon-herald, together, demand a capital-B Blacksmith to complete the figure. (They aren't a square, they're a d4, a triangular prism in three dimensions.)

If you want to create a carpenter playbook, I urge, oh my word urge, you to consider the actual role of the carpenter, don't copy the rights from the Blacksmith. It'd be as unsuitable to copy the rights from the War-captain or the Outranger!"

That seemed like a good experiment to see if I've figured out yet what makes a Dark Age player character.
Wording in parenthesis wouldn't make it onto the actual sheet.

The Carpenter 

Crafter of stability, (Land Itself - the construction of a house, or a heavy piece of furniture, ties man to land.)
Trapping gale and fairy without, (The Other World - mostly antagonistic to the other world, since he limits the ability of the 'low grade supernatural' to effect the men he raises buildings for.  There's obvious connection to the Empire of Eagle's maybe-official monotheistic religion as well.)
Tired and calloused (Personal Prowess - Carpentry is rough!)

+2 Strong , +1 +1 0 -1   (For all his role in crafting the new order of things, the greatest demand on the carpenter is that he DO things)

(Land Itself) — You have the right to offer hospitality and protection to those under your roof.  (Seems fitting, since a carpenter likely has his own abode and is unlikely to be messed with therein, being in the upper crust of the laboring class.)

(Land Itself) — You have the right to the fruits of your labor and the increase of your household. (Skilled, not-easily-replaceable craftsman.  Fits that he can demand some gain from his efforts.)

(The Other World) — When you encounter something unnatural, you have the right to roll your Wary. On 10+, ask the MC 2 of the following. On 7–9, ask 1.
• Is this a thing of old ways, new ways, or ways unknown to me?
• What manner of person made this thing, or is it its own?
• For what does this thing hunger, or by what has it sated itself?
• What would this thing make the world into, if it only could?
On a miss, ask 1, but the thing may ask a question of you in return, from this list or of its own devising. Answer truthfully.
(Put bluntly, perversions intrigue.  To dress it up nobly, the Crafter of Stability must understand what the unnatural would seek to do to stop it if, it a thing that must be stopped.)

(Personal Prowess)— As a baby you received the blessing of the beautiful evening star. You have the right to be loved and never forsaken.  (I like this one.  "Never forsaken" could tie to the medieval carpenter's status - high end, desirable blue collar craftsman.  Someone you don't want to offend, regardless of your station, as he'd either be the vessel of manifesting your status or wealth if you were nobility, or your better if you were a commoner.  Additionally, there's a hinting at the Empire of Eagle's newest religion, further suggestive of the Carpenter's roll in expanding that imperial kind of culture and an opposition to the Old World authorities.)

(Personal Prowess)— You have the right to take a student (Carpenters had craftsman guilds.  Well, maybe not official ones in the Dark Age, but it's an apprentice-drawing position)

(Custom : The Other World)— You have the right to struggle against inhuman forces that beset a man at peace.  When you do so, treat it as sizing them up, but roll Bold instead of Wary.  (Houses act as a 'shield' against many of the forces of nature like rain, wind, and to a limited degree illness.  They also 'shield' from many supernatural horrors, like vampires, hellhounds, and anything scary but unable of busting down a door.  This move lets the character see the threats and nature of storms, droughts, diseases and mystical forces)

(Land Itself) — You have the right to due respect, from bound, free, noble and royal alike. (Carpenters were well respected)

(Personal Prowess)— You have the right to speak wisdom in counsel. When someone comes to you for counsel, tell them honestly what you think is their best course of action. If they decide to pursue that course, they can count it as your help, one time in the future, no matter how far from you they are.  Recommend to them that they note this.  (Carpenters had to know math, and in general were better schooled than most people.  It is not a stretch to imagine one being the 'go to guy' for helping you come up with a solution to a problem.)

Thoughts and comments are more than welcome, of course.

Dungeon World / Actions with Cost on a 10+
« on: September 03, 2014, 11:48:17 PM »
When fictionally appropriate is it alright to treat 10+ successes as successes with cost?  Consider :

The Fighter plunges his sword into the Burrow Worm (10+), who is actively eating away at the castle's foundation.  The sword sinks to the hilt, based on the damage roll and the description of the action by the player.  "The worm pulls the sword from your hands, spraying ichor, as it re-enters the ground.  You can feel the trembling floor shake less for a few moments before their vibration begins RAPIDLY escalating again.  What do you do?"

The Flame Gollum's blast of fire seems never ending.  The Ranger stands, momentarily, from behind the tombstone and fires an arrow (10+) into the Gollum's face, killing it.  Having stood up into fire the Ranger takes damage regardless.

The Thief hides behind the only rock in the Red Dragon's lair, rolling 10+ on the group's custom move for setting up an ambush.  The Dragon is clued to the presence of the party, because she had a brief tussle with the Ranger outside.  Her standard action when entering her lair (decided beforehand, what the prep demands) is to breath fire into the *one* decent hiding spot in her lair which she's left for the sole purpose of tricking would-be heroes.  Does she?

The Cleric is halted by three guards of the Heathenistic city of the godkiller Prince.  He rolls Defy Danger CHA and gets 10+ to convince them his robes, coated in holy symbols, indicates he's a member of minor royalty, not a member of a religious sect and therefore not worth their attention.  "Fine, you may be on your way M'lord.  Sorry for the inconvenience, welcome to the godkiller Prince's domain." Cleric, to the party, still in the company of the guards : "Godkiller Prince?  That guy's the jerk with delusions of grandeur we wanted to kill, right?"  The guards pull their swords and sound the alarm.

This is my go-to for the "Deadly" monsters that crop up every two sessions or so.  You know, the Alpha Males of the dungeons.  You're not Defying Danger when you walk into the fire shield around the Lich, you're embracing it.  Accepting damage for the chance to deal some.  Right?

So, Dogs A and B enter into a gunfight with Brother Z.

Brother Z's die pool is unlikely to best two Dogs, but it's possible.  And it's likely fallout will take place.  So, a good conflict in the making.

Dog A fires on Z, who sees the raise by jumping through a window.  He raises the stakes by snatching Jimmy, (A's nephew, previously introduced) who happens to be passing by, and putting a gun to his head.  A and B can mechanically see the raise, but their players know that they might easily win the fight at the expense of Jimmy's life.

Here's the question.  Can Dog A duck out of the fight (or Dog C enter the scene) and initiate a conflict to determine "Whether Jimmy gets killed or not" before the gunfight gets settled?  I know this would take a whole MESS of dice, and some memory as to which stats or traits have and haven't been implemented yet.

Is it legit for Dog C's player to call for a flashback to when he taught Jimmy some basic wrestling or talked to him about how being a man required being brave enough to fight sometimes?

Is it legit for Dog A to drop out of the gunfight (Do we kill Brother Z?) and tackle Jimmy through the window, rushing him across the street to the safety of the thick walls of the General Store while under fire?

Dungeon World / [Actual Play] Why I love this game
« on: May 13, 2014, 10:50:59 AM »
The party stared up the cliff-face.  Gregory Halfstep, the halfling who had legitimately claimed to be decended from the royal blood of the Dwarven Zollstock kingdom, indicated that this marked the halfway point of their journey to the hidden entrance to the Mountain Homes.  The party needs an Adamantium egg for an experimental spell that might be able to bring the fallen back from Death's Kingdom, and suspect if they place Gregory back in power he'll see that they get one from the Dwarven royal coffers.  Or they can hand him over to the ruling body as a pretender and ask for a reward - they're playing it by ear, mostly using him to find the entrance to the underworld.  The party is :

Duramarth, a half-elven Fighter who owes his life to Death and can channel the powers of the negative planes to suck the life from his foes.
Edward, a half-elven Templar seeking to avenge his father against the half-demon and his cult who slayed him.  He has been prophesied by a swamp hag to be the slayer of rulers.
Fiona, a Tiefling swordmage bonded to the intelligent sword Caliburn, who thinks she is a human.  She has been prophesied by the same swamp hag to become a great ruler.  And Gregory, the maybe-heir to the Dwarven kingdoms, is in love with her.
(The 'prophesy' is not going to be forced, but left hanging to be self-fullfilled or ignored as the players like.)
Soveliss, a wood-elf Ranger / Bounty Hunter who considers humans to be lower lifeforms. (The player was not in attendance this particular week - his character is off somewhere doing something else)

Fiona, her player forgetting momentarily she could teleport (*BLINK*), rolls 6- to climb the cliff.  She gets partway up, followed closely by Gregory who is right behind her, enjoying himself, before realizing she won't make it past the next bit.  She can teleport though, so she lowers herself down and starts taking in the area making a mental map so she can BLINK around.  However, the gargoyle, before now invisibly pressed belly-first into the cliff, grabs Gregory and begins to fly off.

Fiona's the only one (besides Soveliss) with any kind of ranged attack, and she reaches out with her magic lasso to yank Gregory back down to the party.  A 7-9 means she got him alright, but the gargoyle takes the momentum and comes crashing down into the party.  A brief fight takes place - the Templar and Fighter are damage-creating monsters, and while I like to give them the opportunity to show it off they don't take much risk from anything in a straight toe-to-toe fight. 

The gargoyle dead, Fiona *BLINKS* to the top of the cliff and starts pulling people up with the magic lasso, which is faster than using a rope would be.  But, another 7-9 on Edward's pull, the last member of the party to be pulled up the cliff-face, sees HIM taken by a gargoyle.  A mid-air engagement begins, Edward using his templar-trained tenacity to shrug off the paralyzing effects of the gargoyle's magic claws and stabbing upward. 

Duramarth sighs and looks at his magnificent but currently useless axe.

Fiona reaches out with the whip to pull Edward back.  The nature of the whip, however, is that it pulls human-sized and below creatures toward the caster.  Larger creatures pull the caster towards them.  And Edward, in full kit, with a gargoyle attached to him by rows of talons embedded in his armor, constitute a larger-than-man-sized creature.  Fiona goes flying off the ledge and lands on the creature's back.  Stabbing with Caliburn commences.

The gargoyle is wounded on a 7-9 by Edward and he is released to fall to the earth.  A very well rolled prayer for divine intervention (a Templar class move) sees the rock of the mountain momentarily turn to mud.  A very well rolled set of (reduced) damage dice see Edward crawling out of an Edward-shaped hole in the mountain unscratched.  Meanwhile, Fiona's gargoyle flies above the clouds (6- on an attack roll), foiling her BLINK ability.

She jumps, a skydiver without a chute, and gets the chance to BLINK on her way to the ground.  She gets sub-six and can't focus adequately with all the wind tearing up her eyes.  Edward runs under her, ready to catch her.  (Note that Edward has dedicated his life to hunting/killing demons and is about to risk it to try to save someone he doesn't know is part-demon! And who he has kind of been told he would eventually kill.) Duramarth grabs Gregory in an embrace, making the two of them one-and-a-half humans.  Fiona gets it, and reaches out with her whip.  7-9 - Duramarth must make a defy danger STR roll to avoid releasing Gregory.  Which he is likely to make, since his strength is 18.

Unless he rolls a one and a two.

Gregory, heir to the Dwarven Kingdoms, goes flying off the edge of the cliff towards the rapidly decending Fiona.  Edward makes a CON check to partially absorb the blow - an 8 in total.  Gregory is squashed between the two of them and somewhat jellified.  6d8 arbitrary fall damage (enough to usually-but-not-always kill anyone) gets reduced to 4d8 (still likely to be lethal) to be divided between the two however they feel appropriate (pre-rolling).  Fiona and Edward both survive, coated in Halfling (royalty?) blood and guts.  Duramarth hews a rough grave into the path above the cliff, but (rolling a 7) the mighty blows of his axe draw the ire of the entire gargoyle colony living on the cliff.....

other lumpley games / DITV - 'Lily of the Valley'
« on: October 16, 2013, 03:50:10 PM »
Hello all.

I ran my third game of Dogs the other day.  It was a four player group of new players, excepting one player from the previous two games (the one who pulled his gun against a pregnant woman the moment he thought she might be possessed, if you've read my previous writeup)

The brief version of what happened follows.  Lessons learned after the dashes below.

Background :

Brother Angus (30) wanted Sister Jaquelin(17) for his own.  She had zero interest though, and he ended up marrying her older sister.  She was always sickly and nearly died giving birth to their son.  He almost immediately got her pregnant again - she did die during the second pregnancy.  He implored Sister Jaquelin's family for the hand of their other daughter "so his son could be raised by blood."  They agreed.  Sister Jaquelin bolted, abandoning her family and duties.

A flu began in the town which only seemed to infect married folks.  Quarantines didn't prevent the spread, and regular service together didn't spread it to the single folk.  Br. Ibrahim (alternately called "Ieh-brah-heem" or "Ay-bra-hym" throughout the game)  'realized' that The King must not approve of marriage anymore or he'd be protecting them.  By the time the Dogs show up he's got six other males with him, a combination of single folks and husbands who've abandoned their homes and gotten better.  They all live in a communal dwelling, which was nicknamed the 'Frat House' pretty early in the game.  Br. Ibrahim is getting strangely persuasive...

A few of S. Jacquelin's suitors stayed close through the ordeal, especially Br Samson (18) and Br Tyler (19).  She abandoned her virginity in a quest to get pregnant, thereby winning her parent's "approval" to marry someone BESIDES Br. Angus.  Br Samson tried to convince her to leave town entirely instead of living on the lam, that they could start over living proper Faithful lives in a new town.  Br. Tyler got in an argument with Br. Samson over that plan (in private) that ended with Br Tyler smashing Br Samson's head in with a rock.  He drug the body half a mile outside of town and hid it in a mud patch.

The Steward wants to drag S. Jacquelin in and get the marriage with "that no good" Br. Angus out of the way.  He and his wife are, however, leaving pies and the like on their windowsill to cool and not investigating when they go missing.  (He wants her caught, but can't stand the idea of her running around hungry.)  Most of his attention is focused on Br. Ibrahim and his false flock, although he hasn't had any luck convincing them to risk being sick or stop proselytizing their false interpretation of events.

In Play :

The Dogs show up and find the body.  The Steward identifies it and they all ride around town, getting a lay of the land / delivering the mail / talking with everyone the Steward knows was close to Br Samson.  I tried to put it all out in the open - Dogs isn't a mystery solving game, but a judgement making game.  The veteran dog threw a brick through a window of the frat house and snuck into the basement while they were distracted.  The rest found S Jacquelin and Br Tyler and brought them to the church.  They revealed that Br Samson was dead to each, separately, and discerned that Br Tyler did it but S Jacquelin hadn't known what had happened to Br Samson.  They talked to Br Angus and decided he was an ass.  They agreed to marry them, IF they'd take the baby and leave town the next morning.  They walked into S Jacquelin's parent's house (where the baby was) while I clarified "You're marrying the murderer and the harlot, in secret from their Steward, then sending them off with a baby?" 

That's what they did.  Honestly, it's probably what I would have done.

The elder Dog tried to exorcise Br Ibrahim while he slept and convince him to abandon his path.  Didn't work out well, outnumbered 7:1 with Demonic Influence die against him at the Hate and Murder value - he got kicked out of the house.  When he found out the pair were married he decided to follow them, convinced she was the source of the evil in the town and hell bent on putting a stop to her if the town they moved to turned pearshaped.

The rest went to the frat house to show them the error of their ways.  I explained the rules about repeating the same stakes - different players (check) different place (check) different arena.  One of the frat boys slapped a Dog and guns came out.  B Ibrahim was slain where he stood (a Dog dodged by diving for cover (through lattice work) under the deck and raised by emptying his twin pistols up into Ibrahim through the floorboards.  The rest of the frats surrendered.  One dog took a pair of 9s in fallout and had ten D10s against him, all but one of which ended up being over 5.  He had taken a blow by falling HARD behind his horse to get out of the way, and another getting half of one ear blown off.  When he reached up after the fight to check his ear the other dogs saw the red smear that was spreading down his side from the blow he (the character) had thought he'd dodged in the heat of combat. 

There was a touching, extremely well improvised death scene that created a closed loop between the character's initial conflict and all the things they had done since entering the town.  We all sat silent for a moment, I scooped up my notes and told them "That's Dogs in the Vineyard"


Lessons learned :

I started the town's playthrough with description of the town as they rounded the last corner of a dry streambed and saw the buildings ahead, and ended with "there is the murdered body of one of the townfolk hidden nearby.  You haven't found it.  What do you do?"  I liked the response - I think it gave the players the impression I wasn't going to hide anything from them.

When Br. Tyler saw Br. Samson's dead body I tried my best to overact his denials without entering into cheesiness.  After the third back and forth with the Dog's questioning I told them he was blatantly lying, and got a "Well duh" response.  I see this as a good thing, similar to the bit above : The investigating bit (in my mind) is all about saying "Yes" and explaining anything the Dogs could reasonably figure out as they ask, rifting knowledge based on what they're doing.  The "Yes or Roll" is about human conflict.  They don't need to worry about my conspiring to hide information or red herring them.

The Dogs got into an argument over whether to worry about the missing girl or the frat house.  That pleased me - for the most part they were too reasonable with each other.  The players working against each other adds a layer of tension I'd never be able to as the GM.  I need to figure out how to make that happen more often.  Maybe balance the players (who gets invited to the game) against each other.

Br Angus is the only 'villain' in the town, and he's also the only one within his rights according to doctrine.  After a five minute conversation with his the Dogs decided to disregard his rights, which tells me they're more worried about Mercy than Justice.  I know what to follow up on in the next playthrough.

I played that you could raise in a 'softer' arena (spoken word vs gunfire, etc) but that it'd have to be unilaterally considered something unignorable.  "You've betrayed the Faith" doesn't work (except maybe against an Elder) but "I've got your wife in here with me!" might.  "I wait until his pistol is empty, then jump up and charge him" probably wouldn't fly, but "I grab his son and hold him between the two of us" might.  It seemed to work well.

The town might have been a bit to complicated : The sorcerer and flock came about because of the demonic attack, which came about because of the actions of S. Jacqueline, but there's nothing connecting them closer than those two steps. 

I'm going to require the players to read up on Dogs (either borrow my copy or buy their own) if they want to play again - I think we'll get more out of it with a more shared-world experience.

other lumpley games / [DitV] Blind leading the blind...
« on: June 08, 2011, 11:32:11 AM »
I had the honor, despite having never played it before, of running my first Dogs game last night to a group of newbies.  If I had to sum it up in one sentence I suppose it would be : "The game went like an old bowl of mixed nuts, mostly cashews and pecans with the odd dead roach floating around."

The faults we discovered were largely our own - we only agreed to play about two hours before go-time when our usual DM (d&d Eberron campaign) left town and our backup game would have gone from eight players down to four for various reasons.  I was stoked to finally get to play this, but it didn't leave a lot of time to explain the finer points of the game and the theologicial premises.  I figured those could come out in play - largely they did, but by the end I discovered one huge glaring flaw in my preperatory explainations.

Right off the bat the system intrigued the players - they loved how traits were defined.  "I can't possibly imagine what your character knows our has done better than you can - why don't you tell US about it, and we'll come up with a short discription together?"  Men in their twenties trying to talk over each other to explain why they're, say, good with horses - and more importantly figure out the nuances of the OTHER player's characters.  Nice.  I wish I could take credit for that, but it's clearly part of the suspiciously-well designed system that only becomes obvious through play.  

We ended up with :
Brother Johnston, who was abandoned at the Dog's Temple as an infant.  I drew a parrallel between a kung-fu movie Budist Temple and the Dog's Temple ....and it stuck.  The teachers became masters, they once refered to B. Ezekial the head teacher as "sen-sai", etc.  Well, the teachers took him to the family that ran one of the local lumbermills but kept their eyes on him....  The character was obsessed with sorcerers, as he thought they were responsible for killing his folks.  During his introductory trial to "not be so obsessed" B Ezekial removed his copy of The Book of Life while he was at a public-speaking demonstration and replaced it with a copy with all of the passages even referring in passing to demonicy removed.  The following debate (I rolled pretty badly) ended with the head of the Dog's Temple taking fallout and B Johnston getting his old Book back.  A pretty funny moment when I described how, through the mechanics, his character had (during his first conflict!) caused a small crisis-of-faith in one of the head's of the order. (I'm saying the Headmaster of the Dog's Temple is also one of the Ancients\Elders of The Faith)

Brother Nelson : B Nelson's intial conflict was "I want to learn to not yell as much during confrontations."  He explained how he might lose his cool with, say, a drunkard in the street or someone who wasn't living up-to-snuff by his standards.  B Ezekial called him out on a specific instance of it, he claimed that it was his duty to let it be known in no subtle fashion when other's were out of bounds... and B Ezekial agreed.  I used the tactic of the example in the book - three days later B Nelson has failed in a firearms drill and his instructor tears into him.  The player, still sticking to his guns on the conflict and not being lead into any kind of double standard took the beration... and gained "I yell alot" as a d6 trait.  I think his final raise, which was a "3" (I didn't have any dice left), was a sheepish "Thank you for correcting me, sir.  You are right to do so, and I deserve it."

Brother Sergeant : His father is a general out East - he wanted to attend seminary but couldn't get in and felt drawn west.  He (rather audaciously) showed up at the Dog's Temple, asking to be trained, and the teachers came to the conclusion that he was probably sent by The King - stranger things have happened.  Notice at this point how his background involves trusting that The King plays loose-and-fast with dogma and standards when it's suiting to the wellbeing of the faith.  His conflict involved studying the Book to the point that he could quote it - which naturally drew him away from other duties, which is where the conflict sprouted.  He got away with skipping a few classes, though, and gained "I can quote the Book 1d6".

Town synopsis : As they rode into town they noticed a big crowd standing around a gallows, B Joseph in a noose, and B Solomon (town Steward) proclaiming judgement - adultry, fornication.  The Dogs rejected B Solomon's request for them to stand beside him and lend their authority to the execution.  As he tried to finish the deed they stopped him, rescuing B Joseph and humiliating B Solomon in front of the town.  It soon became clear ("don't hide information") that B Joseph and B Solomon's wife S Margrett had been sleeping around, but with a twist.  B Solomon was sterile, and S Margrett felt entitled (Pride) to a child.  Since the out-of-wedlock pregnancy a lot of children had been stillborn - it would slowly come to light that only those pregnancies started in sin were 'taking root.'  The Dogs were very quick to pronounce that the 'couple' needed judgement, although deciding what was proper took a while. ("Stoning" was a favorite choice, despite her currently being with child.)  It surprised me how quickly they sided with B Solomon, since S Margrett's position was so understandable, but that was explained pretty well in the wrap-up.  Eventually they opted to take the pair back to Bridal Falls for judgement by a committy selected by the Ancients of The Faith, but not until they had made a public proclimation against the couple.  She ran off when she realised Solomon had unfettered access to thier 3-year old daughter, and the Dogs, rather than stopping her, followed.  The daughter was safe in her house - a few minutes later B Solomon came back with a posse and demanded his daughter be turned over to him.  He won the following debate, which was interesting as *his* daughter was clearly not from his seed, quoting ' "The grain which groweth from the shaft belongeth to the shaft til it strikes the soil!" Are you to tell me, Watchdogs, that the daughter I raised is no part mine?!'  They took the blow from that and countered with 'This is our duty, so see justice enacted' which he countered with 'She is doubly my ward, as daughter and member of my flock.  Your duty lies in the welfare of the community, not in my home - and if you want to take it up with The Ancients, I'd be GLAD to!'  They backed off at that point, agreeing that he should come with them to Bridal Falls for a ruling... but they didn't make that stick when he later decided to just up and leave with his daughter in tow.  
The whole congregation was gathered at the church and the Dogs started a fire-and-brimstone speech - "Who amongst you has fallen by the wayside and followed her example?", which she countered with "Yes, who here loved their families enough to risk sin in order to preserve them?", initiating the big conflict.  

I want to pause here - I realise that small, givable conflicts are the bread-and-butter of the game and the Dogs are now in a situation where giving means not taking her back to Bridal Falls.  It was about eleven at night at this point, and we had maybe an hour to wrap things up.  The Dogs were pretty much just shouting down everyone who tried to stand in their way - it seemed proper to give them a big shout-off to end things.

It didn't end in a shout-off.  S Margrett had convinced enough of her sisters that "if adultry is the only way to concieve it CAN'T be against The King's plan" to be supported by the demonic influences in the town.  She was "cunning", gaining her 2d8 for the public debate, and 4d6 for her sewing circle cheering her on, 4d10 for the demonic influence, etc.  And the Dogs, each of them, rolled pretty poorly.  Probably the worst rolls of the night, individually and collectively.  The moment "eyes literally start glow as she denounces your authority" all three Dogs launched into fighting.  Well, two into fighting, one into shooting.  

It's worth noting that the Dogs would have won in a purely verbal exchange, but they would have had to take fallout.  Enough to make "one long-term" very likely.

I was playing on the philosophy that you don't have to personally escalate into a field of conflict to remain in the conflict - a scary enough orator could yell down his opponent, distracting him enough that his shots go awry.  Next time we'll play that in order to remain in the conflict you must escalate in accordance with the most violent actor in the scene.  I know this has been a topic of debate lately, and I'm interested in seeing which works best with my group.

At this point, S Margrett was protecting herself (rolled her physical dice) by blocking B Sergeant's cutlass and B Johnston's small axe\large hatchet with the huge Book of Life from the church's podium.  Both Dogs had put forward 2d6s with 6's showing - 24 points spent blocking! - and B Nelson's gunshot was a six and a seven, which she took with the smallest dice possible.  The Dogs had just fatally wounded a pregnant woman, on the elevated preaching platform by the altar in the church, in front of the whole congregation.  Within a turn the cutlass had cut her open from shoulder to hip.  It gets gruesome here, with me trying to make clear just how vicious they're acting, and I won't go into particular... but even if she survived the conflict, her baby wouldn't.  Her last two dice, a one and a two, were spent cowering in the corner holding up the book as a shield, muttering "please".  Didn't save her from B Johnston's axe.

Now, I know as the gamemaster we're not supposed to make moral choices concerning the Dogs, but I had to take a moment her to clarify with them.  "You realise you just shot/stabbed/chopped down a pregnant woman who posed no physical threat to you?"  They brushed it off - "she was a witch.  Possessed.  A sorcerer.  Don't suffer a witch to live, you know?"

B Solomon showed up with his posse, and figuring the killing was on took B Joseph "outside".   B Sergeant followed and TRIED TO STOP HIM FROM HANGING B JOSEPH, leaving the other two inside to keep yelling at the congregation and attempting damage control.  B Sergeant tried to talk down B Joseph, but B Joseph, feeling doubly entitled to see this man dead as the leader of the community and the wronged party, escalated to physical, using his posse to block B Sergeant's access to the gallows.  B Sergeant gave, muttering a prayer as B Joseph fell through the trap.

Ultimately B Solomon left town with his daughter, telling the Dogs they had stripped him of authority and left the town a unrepairable mess.  His second in command took over, and the Dogs advised him for the next couple of days as the town was torn down, the older buildings burnt to the ground and sorted through for nails and such, and a giant communial building errected for everyone to live in.  No risk of them sleeping around if it'll have to be in front of everyone else, right?  It would, theoretically, turn the personal sins into community sins, which are less likely to take off in the same way.  I'm converting this town into another system at some point and playing it with another group - the social dynamics are so screwed up by now it'd be a pretty interesting pitstop for a D&D or Enoch party.

By this point I am grateful to be sitting in the chair closest to the front door, as my friends have me entirely petrified.  I've done some bad things, but finding no moral qualms with killing a pregnant woman?  In front of all of her family and friends?  Stripping the personal freedoms from a community "for their own good"?  

Well, in the post-game wrapup the only two complaints were "we didn't really GET all of the subtle bits of the faith.  How our responsibilities differ from the Steward's, that kind of thing" and (this is the important one) "it was fun to play as RELIGIOUS EXTREMISTS but we probably couldn't play this all the time."

My players thought they were supposed to be hardass gunslinging take-no-prisoners Spanish-inqusitionish antiheros.  I probably shouldn't have breezed over the elements of the faith quite so much, trusting it to come out in play.

We tend to play once a week.  Next week our full-time DM is going to be out-of-town again.  The highest compliment was, on discussing what to play next time and agreeing that DitV probably isn't workable with more than four people, the suggestion that "we don't have to let the rest of the group know we're getting together."

So, the things I obviously need to run different next time :
Escalation - if one party escalates, every party must escalate or back off.  I don't know if that's better suited for my group, but it's worth experimenting with.
Morality - the characters are not the players, obviously, but I need to place an emphasis on their moralities being similar.  "It's *you*, excepting that you believe this religion.  Would YOU, thinking that a pregnant woman might the channeling evil spirits, be willing to cut her open with a sword?"
Background - I'm intent on ordering a hardcopy of the rules manual, but I just got my printer working again.  Maybe a brief summation of the area and the responsibilities of the Dogs, in print, would be a handy playing aid.
Dice - I need more d6s.  This game uses A LOT of them, doesn't it?
Sorcerer - I think my next town might fall short of sorcery, to make them deal with PEOPLE instead of CREATURES, which is what they mentally reduced S Margrett into when they saw her eyes glowing.  But, in future, is there a trick to making the sorcerer(s) more sympathetic?  A woman who wanted to be a mom and was willing to violate religious tenants to do it was the best I could come up with on short notice.

Any other suggestions?  Notice anything I did wrong?  Any comments are more-than welcome.

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