Playtest Report : The Pike Temple, Angyng, and their surroundings

  • 15 Replies
Playtest Report : The Pike Temple, Angyng, and their surroundings
« on: September 26, 2014, 03:11:31 AM »
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.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2014, 03:50:11 AM by Sean F »

Re: Playtest Report : The Pike Temple, Angyng, and their surroundings
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2014, 01:32:55 PM »
Your instincts in blue seem pretty spot-on here, as well as the 'hide nothing' part. Thanks for the write-up!

Re: Playtest Report : The Pike Temple, Angyng, and their surroundings
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2014, 12:43:43 AM »
Happy to do it, or whatever might help out.  Do you folks ever listen to audio tracks to 'observe' the actual play, or should we forgo them in the future? Would a transcript be more digestible? 

Aside from noting syntax errors, ambiguities, 'missing' information, and pushing a large scale martial conflict so you can judge the effectiveness of the War Rules as written, is there anything else we should specifically be doing?

(PS - Psi*Run?  Awesome.)

Re: Playtest Report : The Pike Temple, Angyng, and their surroundings
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2014, 10:31:20 AM »
The chances we have to listen to audio AP are very few and very far between - a summary of play with things that stand out as really cool and smooth or really clunky and not-fun is fine. I say this having played in a game decades ago where every session was recorded on 4-track and then painstakingly transcribed, so if audio is your group's standard for note-taking, carry on!

The thing I'm most interested in at this point is how the PCs move through the world in terms of relationship maps - is there enough direction to push them into dynamic situations or do things tend toward static? How easy is it to get fully rounded NPCs? Does the world seem real? I know half of this is group-specific, an that some groups will have an easier time than others, but it's where I'm most curious.

(Re: Psi*Run - thanks :D )

Re: Playtest Report : The Pike Temple, Angyng, and their surroundings
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2014, 02:40:53 PM »
2nd session is in the bag.  *May* post audio at a later date.  A few notes are within the writeup in blue.

To slow down/prevent the rampant thievery blamed on the Angyng refuges, the Peasant Beauty arranged for them to stay within the military barracks.  I didn't know the guards all stayed together when 'off duty' - it says a LOT about how their sub-society functions.  A few relatives of the Peasant Beauty were recruited to fill in for the soldiers out on mission in the watch towers so that a few soldiers could stand watch on the refuges.

War Captain opted to return early rather than risk the baby's life by staying in the field.  The Wicker Wise rolled snake eyes on a Weird roll and we decided the local gods were infuriated by his knocking over of their totem statues, and a supernatural storm came in.  (New potential 'front', the weakened, unworshiped angry gods.)  The peasants only gathered enough food to fill half a cart, not nearly enough for everyone to survive until spring.

The Temple celebrated the Wicker Wise's return.  (Our wicker wise doubles as a 'holy man', firstborne son of the Elder of the Faith within the Pike Temple.  I get the *impression* the Wicker Wise was designed to be on the fringes of their society, not a core member of it.  But it's working out well this way.  Is that counter to the setting as desired?)  Close observers will remember he was granted the right to claim first harvest the previous year, and that he took 'only enough not to inconvenience anyone'.... which is practically nothing.  The other temple dwellers / faithful don't know how limited his supplies are though, so there's a moment of great disappointment when he busts out the limited stocks.... immediately after bringing back practically nothing from his joint expedition with the War Captain.  On the way in to town the one Angyngian who spoke welsh, the town's old wise woman, ambushed the Wicker Wise to avenge her gods.  He put her down easily, but dealt enough damage that I felt she was likely to die soon without serious healing (a ritual, for example) which she didn't receive.  Do NPCs die if they're reduced to their last line towards Meeting Death like a PC will?  Their second-to-last?  Is that mechanically induced or situationally/fictionally induced?

War Captain grudgingly admitted that the Peasant Beauty's citizen/soldier plan for watching/housing the refugees was a good play.  Baby was handed off to a relative of the Peasant Beauty who had birthed a child recently.  The Peasant Beauty keeps using his relatives as minions of a sort, filling in important rolls that the party either can't or isn't interested in doing.  New front - they can start demanding things, risking all of those bits that rely on their support to fall apart.  But I should make some more NPC triangles with them first.

A lot of hunting took place during the seasonal moves going into Spring, bringing in stockpiles of meat.  Few died as a result.   

An investigation over who stole the Temple's golden incense burner was resolved without serious incident - Markus, the War Captain's head butler, had his hand publicly cut off.  The foreign ambassador, who had been wronged with accusations over the thievery, secretly poisoned him as well, so he died.  Everyone believes he passed from shock/blood loss except the ambassador, leaving his honor satisfied and the authority of the War Captain to dispense justice undisturbed.

A new, silent 'refugee' showed up in town, the other Angyngians avoiding her.  The ambassador tried to see within her to her true self, but rolled real low, so she sensed what he was up to.  Simultaneously, the warned-of army approached.  The town evacuated to the high wall, and the archers set up position, as the ambassador and the troll engaged in solo combat.  The War Captain had to decide - halfway up the hill to the temple, does he finish running up there to take command of his army or turn around and help the foreigner slay the beast?  He turned back, which saved the ambassador's life.  He wounded the troll but was overcome - she pinned him and ripped part of his soul out through his mouth before the War Captain could engage her.  She beat the War Captain as well through position, not harming him as badly as she did the ambassador.   The fiction demanded that they be overwhelmed by the approaching enemy army, considering where the fight was taking place, so she sucked part of his soul and fled before she could be overrun.  The War Captain succeeded on an Undertake Labor roll, stumbling up to the temple with the ambassador over his shoulders and the foreign army nipping at his heels.

The upcoming battle, in which the defenders were outnumbered 2 to 1, ended in a decisive victory for the Temple.  Bjani, the head 'non-com' of the military, was half slain in the battle.  Six of their people fell for good.  A lot of magical healing took place immediately afterwards.  The junior member of the military took it upon himself to kill the refugees who were staying at the barracks, seeing them as potential spies for the enemy army (they shared a common language), as associated with the monster who hurt his commander, and as non-contributing members of the town who were eating up their precious food.  This leaves just the two or three people sold into local households in exchange for food as the sole survivors of Angyng.

With a temple, animistic worshipers of the temple, and an apprentice it's super easy for the Wicker Wise to do 3-sacrifice enchantments.  Holy place, Mass blood-letting, One-Harm bleeding.  We also argued over whether the Wicker Wise could bind people through oaths to his gods without consent... but I think the wording ("Oath") is pretty clear.  The Wicker Wise can bind himself OR the recipient OR someone else, as long as the bound person consents... right?

The fallen allies were speeded on to their next lives.  The roll to banish fallen invaders, as well as the roll to win over their ghosts, both failed.  Now the temple is haunted, which means it is no longer valid for sanctifying enchantments.  The use of places of power for enchanting is pushing the player towards trying to make the temple as stable as possible.  This may not be bad, as it gives the MC something to focus threats on, but it moves play a notch farther from 'rapidly falling into disarray'   

The Elder was against healing the ambassador, since he has been courting trouble since he got there, he was suspected of robbery for so long, he worships other gods (the Pantheon of The Nest), et cetera.  His son, the Wicker Wise, demanded his Right to do enchantments and the Elder threw up his hands and left the temple, leaving him to it.  Next session the wounds of the ritualistic blood letting will fail to heal (on account of the hostile spirits residing in the temple and around the housing of the holy caste) which is more fuel on the father-son fire.  I need to introduce named members of the second circle, so the Wicker Wise knows a few of his contenders if he seeks to rule the temple on his father's demise. 

As I read it, a character can do something they don't specifically have the right to do, they just can't expect any other people/gods to abide by the mechanical results.  So a god may not enchant a weapon if they don't want to, regardless of the roll.  Or a demon may not be exorcised by, say, the Peasant Beauty.  How does this work for moves that replace one stat rolled with another?

The game doesn't FORCE NPC triangles, but it gives plenty of opportunities.  Kudos on pulling that off!  I'm not sure how you'd encourage the MC to push for them more than you already have.

The play books pushed the characters into authority figures of different kinds, reliant on each other but easily in contention with each other as well.  I think when the first character falls in battle (either to another or to the troll they're hunting down) it may change the way they deal with each other.... but I'm not sure if it'll make them more skittish of conflict or more wiling to use their mortality as leverage to get what they want.  Time will tell.

Re: Playtest Report : The Pike Temple, Angyng, and their surroundings
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2014, 05:32:51 PM »
Do NPCs die if they're reduced to their last line towards Meeting Death like a PC will?  Their second-to-last?  Is that mechanically induced or situationally/fictionally induced?

The Meeting Death section of the basic rules seems clear; PCs and NPCs die when the last line is crossed out:

"The first uncrossed line is the one that, this moment, prevails"
"When you cross out 'I still draw breath', your breath stills and you die.".
"For NPCs... when they've suffered 4 Harm, they're dead" (which would be the crossing out of "I am no more threat to anyone").

PCs that take 4 harm continue to take harm until dead unless something intervenes; by default the 5th harm comes the next day (because "I will see another sun rise") and the 6th "a few minutes later".

NPCs that take 3 harm are "sorely wounded, likely dying", so I would say the 4th harm is automatic after some appropriate period of time unless there's a good reason to say otherwise. --I think this is the part you're specifically asking about? I wouldn't auto-harm them from 2 harm.

That's all mechanical; if I were MCing I would be very flexible about adjusting the automatic harm according to the situation and fiction.

With a temple, animistic worshipers of the temple, and an apprentice it's super easy for the Wicker Wise to do 3-sacrifice enchantments.  Holy place, Mass blood-letting, One-Harm bleeding.  We also argued over whether the Wicker Wise could bind people through oaths to his gods without consent... but I think the wording ("Oath") is pretty clear.  The Wicker Wise can bind himself OR the recipient OR someone else, as long as the bound person consents... right?

It seems a little munchkin-y to allow both the harm sacrifice and the blood sacrifice on the same subject, but I guess you're talking about bleeding the worshipers and harming the apprentice?

The oath has to be given by the subject of the enchantment, so you can't use oath sacrifice to enchant an object, nor have the Wicker-Wise swear an oath to enchant another character. And those oaths have got to cost; they are sacrifices (cf. Hero System's "a disadvantage that doesn't inconvenience the character isn't worth any points").

Don't forget to have both a fire pit and a pond out back of your temple to make "twice through fire, twice through water" convenient. And for human subjects, make 'em walk over the coals slowly enough to take a harm.

I thought seriously about taking Hunting as my starting season move for a bounty of furs and a bounty of meat, then going to my shrine, burning both on the pyre, passing myself through fire and water, taking a harm doing it, and doing Necromancy (ii) -- basically starting the game as a lich right out of the gate. Decided I needed to make some alliances first, otherwise everyone else would make a beeline for magical weapons to finish me off.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2014, 05:50:04 PM by Borogove »

Re: Playtest Report : The Pike Temple, Angyng, and their surroundings
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2014, 07:40:08 PM »
Ahhh, it does state 'Bind THE SUBJECT OF YOUR ENCHANTMENT' - you're right, this one is answered in the text.

I was working with MC fiat when it comes to how much damage an NPC can take before crossing the point where they'll stabilized.  I had to dig through the sheets to find where you referenced NPC damage, which is separated from the actual NPC health lists.
When they’ve suffered 3 Harm, they are sorely wounded, likely dying. When they’ve suffered 4 Harm, they’re dead.
I am no more threat to anyone.... [no space left, all lines crossed out]

The blood-letting applied to the whole temple following, the Harm-inducing incision directly to the apprentice.

You clearly have a better understanding of the rules than I do, Borogove.  Thank you for your clarifications!

Here's one I forgot earlier : If you take the Right that means you have a parent that wasn't human, and you might live forever :
Are you invincible, or just immortal?
Does that erase all the steps you've taken towards Death?



  • 417
Re: Playtest Report : The Pike Temple, Angyng, and their surroundings
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2014, 08:29:04 AM »
"Immortal" is commonly used to describe creatures that will not die of "old age" (typically an immunity to disease and such) or "natural causes." Having a sword shoved through your face is a decidedly unnatural cause of death. In most cases, "immortal" creatures can be killed (though it may require something specific or special like beheading or a wooden stake through the heart or what have you) to fully finish the job. Tolkien's elves were "immortal," but they could be killed in battle like anyone else, for instance.

Re: Playtest Report : The Pike Temple, Angyng, and their surroundings
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2014, 05:17:35 PM »

The exact term is : "[...] or perhaps never to die."  I was hoping for clarification that that means "doesn't age to death" but doesn't include "does not die from violence, like the Necromancy enchantment"



  • 1293
Re: Playtest Report : The Pike Temple, Angyng, and their surroundings
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2014, 06:37:51 PM »
If I'm a player, and I choose that right for my character, and my character dies...

If it said "you have the right never to die," I would be denied my right, obviously.

That it says "perhaps" means that I can judge the circumstances of my character's death, and decide whether to consider my right to have been denied.


Re: Playtest Report : The Pike Temple, Angyng, and their surroundings
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2014, 09:34:14 AM »
It did not occur to me that the player might hold his rights as denied after his character suffered a fatal wound.  Interesting how this could have vastly different effects depending on how the group addresses souls/weirdness and which interpretation of "hold it against the MC" they follow.  Thanks, Vincent.

Third session's in the bag.  I'll try to keep it brief, but in hindsight so much gets accomplished in one of these sessions.  It doesn't seem like great strides were made until you sit down and follow the chain of events from the starting position to where everything ends.  If something doesn't make sense here.... it did at the time, in context of all the little stuff being glossed over.

As always, cliffnotes/questions in blue.

The PCs arrived at the troll's lair the scouts had found near Angyng.  Indications that mud was central to it's existence abounded - it walked over mud without sinking, it's cave was in the damp clay of a river wadi side, it had a mud 'effigy' of a human in its lair.  The War Captain Victor engaged it in solo combat and won position on it, pinning it with sword to its throat and then killing it.  It could easily have gone with the troll winning positioning and extinguishing his torch, leaving the whole party bathed in darkness and likely dead.  The rules for combat put everyone in a crosshair.  This isn't news, but it is awesome and intimidating.  The contrast with Dog's "you can only die if you're willing to press the issue" is stark.

The Wicker Wise Lugh discerned that pots scattered around the room held souls captive within.  He learned a secret about Victor and Lucius (foreign ambassador) from the stains on their souls, and used that knowledge to tell which soul belonged to who.  I agreed that he could destroy one of the captive souls and count it towards taking a life for enchantment purposes, which he promptly did (along with taking blood from the scouts and burning what valuables remained from the Angyng people) to heal Lucius. 

They returned to town.  Peasant Beauty Prys and Victor discussed killing the kid rescued last week, Lucius found his stuff packed by Roslyn (apprentice WickerWise) who had acquired rights to the late Diana's house, but let him stay when they formed a physical relationship.  Not enough NPC triangles yet.  Felt a hair forced, giving Roslyn a sudden dynamic aggression, but potential payoffs were worth it and it matched with Lugh's difficulty.

Which was his father banishing him from the Temple.  The Pikes were all sporting festering wounds from the ritualistic blood letting, which they considered a curse from the gods for healing the heathen ambassador, as opposed to the machinations of the vengeful ghosts of the slain army they didn't know were still milling about.  Lugh had a place to stay (Roslyn's) and won a flock with a People's Judgement roll, but no longer had access to the temple.  (This infection follows from the fiction, the intersection of two major factors : the unexorcised ghosts, and the way the Temple folks are expected to ritualistically bleed all the bloody time for sacrificial purposes, which has been treated as a 'safe' choice from the enchantment list.)

Lucius and Lugh are now sleeping under the same roof, both having bedded the woman who owns it and lives there.  Possible fuel for the fire there.

Lucius got a note from his counterpart from Sorrentti stationed as a representative in the Southern Kingdom congratulating him on his group's success in the last battle and warning of future attacks, noting that he had made an arrangement with his counterpart in the Northern Kingdom to sabotage his 'friends' in the south with bad advice in exchange for a place of power in the north.  He was convincing his allies to avenge their fallen brethren, sucking more troops from their fight with the North, and warned to be prepared for more attacks.

Prys, peasant beauty, head of his household, was asked for permission by one of his family members to join the military / guards, who were of a foreign/relocated race (Germanic) separate of the native peoples (Welch and Celtic) for the last few generations.  Prys and the War Captain, Victor, agreed... opening potential future worm cans.  No immediate drama there, so we moved on.

Everyone moved as a group again (the theme of this session - they split up a lot more the last two times) to the Northern Kingdom to offer fealty in exchange for defense. 
The dwellers of the Northern Kingdom speak English, are tall black-brown people, and their capital is London, which falls on a major offshoot of the Rhine in eastern France.  Is this too free-wheeling for the intended flavor of the game?  I felt like the peoples made so far in my game tended to drift towards stereotypes from our world and wanted to discourage that.  Is this a core element of the fictional world as design would dictate, or up to the group playing it?  Put another way, is this something 'scattered along the bell curve of various play styles in various groups' or something 'core to the game itself as it is ultimately desired by the creators to be, thematically or mechanically important.'
They shortly were in the presence of the general of those peoples.  A bad roll to win him over convinced him (via halting Romantic / Latin pidgeon and pantomime) that their small down was strategically important, because the backs of the enemy army could be broken on it if they could be tricked into attacking in force!  Which would inspire the group to seek allies in the other camp, so they were carted to prison.  Victor invoked his right to respect from men at arms and was instead left in the war room to discuss strategy, on the deal that if he came up with a plan to win the war his friends and he would be free.  He ultimately won his way up to getting a small military detachment of support from the city (30 souls), with the understanding that they'd be the bait for the Southern Army.
The Peasant Beauty was prison-married without ceremony to a local well respected criminal in exchange for the group's safety.   Lucius's equivalently ranked cohort sent to these people bailed him out of jail, even as the others launched an uprising and busted out. 

A dozen unarmed men vs three prison guards, resolved with War rules (launch attack, come under attack) worked out very well.  Mechanically it was clear that the unarmed swarm of inmates would win early on, but there was still a feeling of risk since the three guards could still do serious damage depending on their rolls.  Is this the way to handle a dozen men against one? The +3/+3 make it seem like a viable option where someone might have a crazed, fighting chance (holding a bridge, small pass, cave entrance, city gate, a vicious troll, etc)

Prys was wounded but saved in part by both Lugh and Jesse, his prison husband.  Prys and Lugh were smuggled out of town by Jesse, who is totally a recurring character when I figure out where he should pop up to cause the most potential-but-not-guaranteed damage.  They run into a water nymph along the river, a friend of Jesse, who trades a patina'd old blade for a lock of Prys's beautiful hair.  That's probably how Jesse will find Prys later.

Lucius was only bailed out on swearing to the gods of the nest that he would abide by the will of Casius, the Sorrentti rep to the Northern Kingdom.  Casius ordered the guards protecting Lucius and Victor from the 'riot' to return their weapons (in English, the rest of the conversation having been in Latin), then left.  Victor scares the guards with Leap Into Action well enough to escape without having to turn treacherous and kill them.  Everyone escapes the city and heads home.

Victor smashed the Angyng kid in the nose, and he bled mud.  Lugh tries to discern what'll happen if they kill the child, and learns that the village will be appalled... obviously.  While in the other world the child challenges him, and they come to the agreement that the child will not return in exchange for leaving and taking the jars of baby souls ("my brothers") with him.

End of session and end of season.

Just as much happened here in the last 20 minutes, justifying the advances / rights. 

The Pikes are dead of their infections, except Lugh.  He is no longer of a people, but a thing distinct in himself, touched by the otherness he so often enters.
The support unit arrives, and greets Victor as an ally... and, surprised, Prys as a lord.  They have records, from the time of the Legion, of a banished sister to a King who fled to this area, and Prys bears her cheekbones, complexion, hair, eyes, nose, and regal composure.
Victor overhears some of the criminal laborers berate another inmate for whining over the fate of Markus, letting Victor know that the criminal element (and the common folk) have accepted his punishments for crimes, real or perceived, as the way things work... err, as "Justice"
Lucius has studied the way Pris holds himself in a fight, and has learned to emulate it with his own flair.

Ending with so much experience handed out (2 points, plus possibly seasonal experience) often means new rights.  Which needs fictional justification.  Which gives brand new societal balance issues for the MC to dwell on, and then attack the next session.  This is great, and kind of makes the game possible for me to manage as an MC.  It also makes it important to end with at least half an hour available for further kibitzing.  My prep work is just thinking up two or three intuitive, logical complications to each character during my drive home based on their actions / season moves in context of the world they've built. Maybe making a peoples, NPC, or war party entry.  Very easy.

I'm enjoying how dynamic this game gets. The Subject tag line is "The Pike Temple, Angyng, and their surroundings" but be the end of session three the Angyngians and the Pikes are doomed, down to one or two surviving members each, and the temple is no longer a place worthy of worshiping in (and dedicated to gods who are barely alive any longer, their peoples passed)

We didn't start with any playbooks that entitle authority over a community of people, except for the War Captain.  This seems to be resolving itself, as characters acquire Rights of New Nobility.  Time will tell, but that's the way it looks like its heading, which implies that the system resolves its own 'balance issues' over time.  I predict a group with no martial or war prowess would, if they survived a few sessions, start developing war and personal rights to compensate.

Re: Playtest Report : The Pike Temple, Angyng, and their surroundings
« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2014, 08:27:16 PM »
My favorite part of the system so far?

When two PCs are arguing over something, and it is entertaining, it can ride.  When I start to get bored, or see the people not in the argument start to zone out, I can say "sounds like you're trying to Win Them Over?" and the more aggressive player will roll without me trying to require it.

The move doesn't remove the 'victim' agency, since they can answer questions and respond honestly without compromising their character's position, but it works wonders for cutting the lag or fluff out of a conversation that looks like it'll just....keep....going. 

Re: Playtest Report : The Pike Temple, Angyng, and their surroundings
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2014, 12:15:51 AM »
Session Four down.  No blue today.  Sorry, creators.

Pryss (Peasant Beauty) has decided his 'rule' is just sitting in council when people come to him with problems.  Victor (War Captain) dishes out justice to his military folks, but waits for the okay from Pryss on domestic issues.  The Wicker Witch visited Lugh (Wicker-Wise) and told him it offended her when people didn't use the name she had chosen for herself, the name I've spent previous sessions noting as giving her power.  A 'Candy Man' type thing.  She warns she's going to tell Tad (the troll-made) he's free of his vow, unless Lugh is willing to swear again in her chosen name.  He does, and by morning his gods are dead, denied a single living, uncorrupted member of their peoples.

The agreement was made to turn the burrows the Pikes used to live in into armories / stockades / fighting positions, but Lugh refused to willingly yield the Temple itself.

Victor had to dictate some justice for a Londoner who stole a container of mead from Pryss's uncle.  During the conversation with the uncle I had him ramble on for quite a while about why his mead is better than anyone elses, trying to imply the possible approach of senility and subtly reminding the War Captain that the Welsh serving with him now aren't "soldiers" in the way his men are, troops who believe themselves to be born-and-bred for service to him.  Of which there are I think six still alive as of this session's end.

An English/Londoner just showed up in the market, showing a charcoal drawing of Pryss around and carrying a bag.  When Pryss went to investigate, he dumped the head of a Tundarian (Southern Kingdom) out of the bag, handed over a letter, and began following Pryss around silently, shrugging when spoken to.  The letter, as translated by the scribe/spy from London following Pryss around, was a reminder of the love slash loyalty of Jesse and the hope that he'd figure out where Pryss fled to someday so he could rejoin him.  This was translated in front of Lucius, the foreign ambassador.

Lugh released Rosyln from service and took one of the surviving Angyngian children as a new apprentice.

The attack eventually came, and everyone pulled back as usual.  Except Lucius, who hid in a guard tower, prepping a poisoned arrow.  As two negotiators climbed the hill to the Temple fortification, Lucius let loose with the arrow, poisoning the enemy army's leader (we played soft-and-loose with the poisoning rules here, but since a Leap Into Action or Harass roll *might* have accomplished the same thing I allowed it).  A few soldiers chased the fleeing Lucius up the hill, but he made an Undertake roll and got within arrow-range of the defenses before they could catch him. The negotiators turned around, and the Londoner / Germanic army formed a phalanx and marched down after them.  As they came down the hill, they saw smoke begin to grow from various places around town, and started at a trot. 

The War Captain has insane power in War.  The enemy was driven off, about seventy men dead, the locals having lost seven.  I should have given the enemy bonuses for significantly outnumbering them, but failed to do so for some dumb reason.  Just forgot, I guess.  +1/+1 would have turned the tide significantly (the battle took two rolls)... but story continues, regardless.

Lucius and Pryss ran a bucket brigade to save the yet-unlit homes while the army beat back the flames that threatened the fields.  Excellent Undertake rolls saw only about 10% of the village's homes and a single field burnt down. 

Lugh summoned up a fire elemental to chase down the remnants of the enemy war party, and scryed into the Other World to see if it succeeded.  His vision told him that it had, but Jesse or Jesse's men (it's unclear which) were also wounded.

That's where we ended.

It was hard today to keep the focus going.  One of our players had just gotten back from a trip with stories, another wanted to discuss the two games he was playing, another just got a new job, and I got a call ten minutes in that I'd need to run my parent's suddenly-sick dog to the vet the next day (she's old and can't hop all the way up into their truck, so my car gets co-opted for vet trips), so there was a lot of misdirection going on.  I think the biggest failure on my part was not constantly asking questions to stir up conflicts / fronts the way I had in previous sessions, and not taking the smoke-breaks we usually work it (which offers vent time for non-game discussion).  There was a LOT of non-game related crosstalk when a player's character wasn't in scene, which is probably indicative of failure on my part to make the consequences of each character's actions affect the other individuals in some way.  More triangles, maybe?  Not exploring a 'front' if it only affects a single character?  Four sessions in I feel like the dynamics should be well underway, but this session seemed the most stable.

Fronts, lest I forget.  If you're in my group, don't read any further.

Fomorians, the mud-children, Tad's creations.  Tad'll be trying to free those souls he rescued from his creator's lair.  He lacks the skill of craftsmanship she had though, and the next iteration will be more monstrous that his Changeling self.  He'll probably not actively bother folks until he runs out of souls to imbue into his mud-creations.

Jesse, who cares for Pryss and now knows where he is.  Jesse has been presented to the party as "The Bandit King of the Western Silk Road".  He may make a power play in London if the chance arises.  The length of his influence hasn't been decided yet, only that he rules the underground and clearly has some combat-ready followers.  Civil crimes in London are settled by Trial-by-combat, so the group knows (if they think about it) that he was in prison for something of a more serious nature.

The Old Gods are dead.  At least the ones the Pikes and Welsh worshiped.  Killed by the Wicker Witch.  How does that affect the town?  Will Lugh confess it?  Will Rosyln?  What is Lugh willing to do to stop her?

The Northern Kingdom probably attacked the Southern Kingdom after the hole in their defenses opened up with sending the war-party towards the village.  So there's fighting there.  How does that affect the player characters? 

What are the Sorrentii reps in the South and North doing?  How does it affect Lucius and the affairs of the three groups?

The displaced, their homes burned down, are going to move to Angyng or the town-of-the-haunted-well I guess.  Unless the group does something otherwise.  I suppose Tad and company will probably end up in conflict with them if they do.  They'll probably choose a new, local ruler to follow while Pryss is days away.  The first possessed territory owing the new ruler fealty?  What kind of complications might that make?

I think next session I'll try expanding the scope of individual actions.  My instinct is to push towards increasing the scope, but I should probably toy around with how different pacing works instead and let scope evolve as it will.

Re: Playtest Report : The Pike Temple, Angyng, and their surroundings
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2014, 01:00:47 AM »
Alright, so one thing this game does not do is stagnate

- London is 80% burned to the ground.  Jesse (Pryss's maybe-husband) had his bandit band team up with the players to assist in razing it as revenge for imprisoning him.  The players wanted the people displaced so some would come north, bolstering their kingdom.  Pryss is commited to Nile, river spirit of that part of the Rhine, to keep the waters under his kingdom clean and respected.  In exchange the river fought back against those who sought to use it to extinguish the fires.  The new player, Ian the Dragon-Herold, was lit aflame while escaping from the home he was staying in.  When he jumped in the river it parted below him like the Red Sea, then collapsed back on him after he rolled the fire out.  On climbing to the shore Lucius and Lugh threatened his life if he resisted... which of course he didn't understand, since he doesn't speak Welsh.  They figured out a way around that, with Lugh enchanting him to understand birdspeak and then speaking the animal tongue to him.

- The Formorian Hulk (one of the Mud Children created by Tad since his exile from Cardeth), a quadraped two stories tall, slew three of Ian's clansmen on their journey away from the burning wreckage of London.  The party wisely avoided it, albeit at the expense of one of Ian's 'brothers' and Ian's own bravery in the eyes of his cohorts.

- Cardeth has absorbed the cursed-well town and sent a few folks to start working the fields of Angyng again.  This gives them a three-town empire... albeit with two of those towns practically empty.  Pryss has openly referred to himself as a King and gotten away with it.

- Ian ran into Tad (created 'child' of the Troll that almost killed Lucius and Victor) on the way to convince a water spirit to inhabit the well in the abandoned town and clean the water, making it usable again.  He swore to look after him if he wanted to join the town.  Ian only finds out on returning to the town, Tad in tow, the history between him and the decision-makers of Cardeth.  Tad helped out Victor's men and Ian's clansmen in replacing the ruined buildings and erecting basic fortifications.  He speaks any tongue, apparently, and is acting as translator between Pryss and Ian's people, as well as the primary defender of the town from 'outside threats'.  He is BLATANTLY self-interested though, making it clear that he doesn't consider the recovered town part of Cardeth and thus not within enforcement under his previous promise.

- Ian purified the Mud Cave near Angyng where Tad was created and his mother slain by Victor.  The child souls were nowhere to be seen (which he didn't know about anyway, but which the rest of the party might piece together later)

- The Wicker Witch offered Lugh a boon - drink the blood of a living person while thinking of her (Harm sacrifice + Beseeching the Wicker Witch) and she'll cure his wounds.  Which he has already taken her up on. 

Future fronts

- Tad, obviously.  He has tried to pick up his mother's mantel and created 'brothers' for himself - the Hulk being one of them.  If his hand isn't otherwise forced he'll try to make himself indispensable, maybe resorting to false attacks by his brothers which he'll 'drive off', and make increasingly taxing demands.

- The Sorrentti rep for the Northern Kingdom tried and failed to ambush Lucius during the razing of London (Pryss warned Lucius in time to save him).... but he's bound to try again.  Victor took on nine Londonites who fled northbound into his army (they think London was razed by bandits and don't know Cardeth was involved), which may be exploited.

- Jesse's men did not raze the Keep within London.  They'll claim that for their own if they can and declare Jesse the head-man-in-charge of the surrounding farming villages.  At which point he'll send for his beloved...

- As long as the two kids in Cardeth and Lugh's apprentice Adams are alive the Angyng gods will still be floating around, causing trouble for the settlers trying to reclaim it for Pryss's 'empire'. 

- The Wicker Witch is putting her hooks into Lugh.  And of course she'll retract her support the moment he needs it, offering a much worse deal instead.  She's probably not a fan of Ian, since he spent his season move in rites and ceremonies massaging the fey/lay energies, the blood of the Dragon, back into motion at the Mud Cave.  She'd just as soon see the Dragon dead.  I'm not forcing anything, but I can see Lugh being The King of Death before this is over.  Which of course has a different connotation for my group than it would in the Author's mind, but it seems like maybe a good place to end this game and wait for the next iteration of the rules, IF that's the way things go.

Re: Playtest Report : The Pike Temple, Angyng, and their surroundings
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2014, 10:39:51 AM »
The player running the Wicker Wise argued that because of the pronouns used in the Birdspeak enchantment he could draw the recipient of the enchantment back to him whenever he wanted.  The recipient and I both argued that the context of the piece clearly meant that the recipient of the enchantment could pull birds towards themselves, but Lugh's player momentarily argued that the rules should be taken literally and not tinted by the assumptions of the reader.  I don't know how concerned you are about pre-empting this kind of rules lawyering, but if you care that might need rephrasing.

My players shouldn't read any further.

Anyone want to help me come up with a few new Trolls?  Tad's got about eight more 'brothers' running around out there besides the Hulk and The Watcher In The Brush, and even if they don't show up/ are avoided hinting at them would propagate the feeling of magic and maybe wonder.

Ideas so far : Tad didn't really know all the ins-and-outs of what he did.  He can imbue mud with life like his mother, but she never taught him so he's had to learn on his own.  That might buy them three half-formed man-like creatures from before Tad abandoned trying to replicate Children of Men and started crafting things altogether his own creation.  He probably got lonely and made something stationary, like a living mud pit that'll seek to drown those who come near but isn't vulnerable to your standard 'poke it with the sharp end' tactics.  His grandmother (she who shall not be named) offered him pointers after the first few failures in exchange for his creating a living weapon, something to one day clot, slow and still the Heart of the Dragon.  Even with all those I'm still three Trolls short.