Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Neon Burn: Alpha Test One

I've been getting a bit behind on my session reports lately, mostly because I've been spending all of my spare time working on the alpha draft of Neon Burn. I just about have enough of it together to start playtesting, so tonight John and I had a bit of a go to see if there were any obvious issues. The following is a bit of a rambling analysis of that initial playtest, most of which probably assumes you're familiar with some of the game terms. Apologies for that; this is just a stream of consciousness as I process the experience.

Since there were only two of us we each picked one Primary and two Secondary roles. I went with a Mechanic/Pit-Crew-Coach, and John chose a Security/Driver-Gunner. I'm not going to post a blow-by-blow account of the session, but in summary:

We spent maybe half an hour coming up with the League (a single-event demolition derby race), the Team, and the Vehicle (good Speed and Integrity; low Handling and Lift). We only had half an hour for the Build-Up before the Event started, but managed to cram in a number of scenes and get some things done. The time limit definitely did build a sense of tension, which was good! I think the number of Complications we had to cram into a short time was a bit much though, so I may look at either revising the points you need to winnow down based on the time you have to play, or else try to come up with a different way to motivate the Referee to introduce complications.

In the end, the race went badly due to several factors and we ended up coming dead last. Without a Primary Driver Role, John was missing out on rolling a d8 in his pool. Our Vehicle also ended up with pretty flat tuning, mostly punctuated by poor Lift (I'd corrected its Handling problems at the expense of Speed). We didn't gain very many Sparks during the Build-Up, and spent a lot more of them before the Event than I'd anticipated, so neither of us could affect the outcome very much.

I think half an hour for the Build-Up was not quite enough time. We could have benefited from some additional scenes to establish more motivations for the Event. Mind you, some of the scene goals still need to be written up, so we were a bit limited in what we could choose to do. I also think another player or two would make it easier to share the load.

Maybe it was because we didn't have much time, but I didn't feel that the Passions were really being played out well. We pretty much used the same ones all the time - "The Vehicle is my baby" and "I need to win the Event." I need to consider how Sparks are assessed and awarded. Since we didn't have many other characters to interact with, our descriptions were pretty sparse. The post-justification of some of our Passion usage felt a bit tacked on, and I also noticed the conflict of interest in the Referee being the arbiter of what constitutes a "good enough" use of a Passion, with their desire for the team to do well. I think I either need to come up with clearer guidelines for how Passions must be worded, or how they have to come into play, or else I may need to strip out and revise the entire method of generating Sparks. Maybe it just requires a deliberate call-out in dialogue or description during the scene, rather than just "OK, I roll for this... Oh yeah, and I totally bought this gear so I can Win The Event." However, I'll reserve judgment until I've both played it with a larger group, and with a bit more time to play out the scenes.

So, it was interesting to see a whole session in motion, and gave me some food for thought. I'll keep filling in the blanks in the document, and reviewing what's already there to see if it needs any changes in the light of this test. I'm eager to try again with some more players, but I'm not sure when I'll get the opportunity.

If anyone has any ideas or suggestions, please feel free to let me know either in the comments here, or in the Google Doc. Just highlight the relevant text and right-click to leave a comment. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Eternal Contenders: Oblim, Round 2

John and I finished off our Eternal Contenders game in this second session. Here's a link to the first session Actual Play. If people want to discuss the game in general, the author +Joe Prince  is on G+, along with an +Eternal Contenders page.
  • I play Talisa, a Dark-Friend street urchin who's caring for a young orphan boy. She hopes to gain fame and glory so she can provide him with a better life, and fears that he might end up as a good-for-nothing like herself. As a fighter she is quick and lithe, focusing on Mobility and Guard. Her dark power comes from a mysterious shadowy entity that inhabits her body, although the details remain hazy.
  • John plays Stefan, a Rapscallion with aspirations to run the local assassin's guild. He hopes to climb through their ranks, and fears being run out of town by them - or worse. As a fighter he focuses on the long haul, with high Guard and Stamina.
Since there's no GM, players take turns framing scenes for their own characters, which fall into various categories - I'll mark the scene types with bold in the narrative. As I want to talk about the session structure and both of our choices, I won't be writing the entry from my character's point of view.

After her ignominious defeat by Stefan in the Rusty Chain, Talisa's spirit is close to breaking. She moves to the outskirts of the city for a bit, working hard as part of a construction crew, and actually manages to earn some honest coin. Among the camaraderie of her workmates, she actually starts to feel like there might be some hope after all.

Stefan connects with his contact at the Assassin's Guild again and pays them a significant amount from his winnings. However, he feels like he's not making any real progress towards his goal. It feels a bit like the Guild is stringing him along.

Talisa trains her manoeuvrability by running and leaping from rooftop to rooftop.

Stefan works as a standover man for the Assassin's Guild. His threatening presence and growing reputation motivate the business-owner to pay up, and Stefan receives his fair share of the profits.

Talisa visits a black-market trader, and trades the poison she stole from Stefan for a set of long black leather boots with grippy soles, enhancing her manoeuvrability even further.

Stefan goes down to the beach, and in a gruelling training session he pushes through the pain barrier to improve his manoeuvrability and strength by running through chest-deep water.

We weren't sure if you were allowed to "Push Through the Pain Barrier" to train Traits, or only Techniques. I gave him the benefit of the doubt. It turns out "Pushing Through" is only supposed to work when learning a second Technique in the same training session.

Talisa confronts Stefan at the beach, and challenges him to a duel, but he refuses!

John mostly did this to gain the point of Pain that comes with refusing, although he lost a point of Renown as well.

When Talisa walks back towards town through the dunes, Stefan follows and robs her! She is totally blindsided by the mugging; although she doesn't have any money, Stefan steals her knife and her shiny new boots.

Bitter from the robbery, Talisa tracks Stefan back to the Rusty Chain. She grabs a tankard off the bar and throws it at him, then leaps to the attack! Despite her anger and desperation, Stefan takes the upper hand in the brawl and beats her badly. After her dirty tactics in the previous duel, the crowd at the Chain is against her too, and she's soon thrown out into the street.

In the Rusty Chain's doorway, with Talisa crawling away bloodied and beaten, Stefan challenges all comers, but none can rise to answer his call.

After the Brawl, Talisa's Pain had finally crossed the limit (it normally can't be more than four points higher than Hope), which meant that her next Scene had to be "The Pain Revealed." Since answering Stefan's Challenge would have placed the Duel in Talisa's already-committed next scene, we decided that she was unable to accept the challenge. I've since learned that if there is a scene-scheduling conflict like that, the Duel can take place during the Challenger's next scene instead.

Talisa struggles back to the hovel she shares with the young orphan-boy, Rogan. The boy tries to care for her but she brushes him off and retreats to the far corner, the pain revealed in her heart. The dark forces that dwell within her have risen to the surface. She thinks to herself, "wouldn't it be easier to just kill the boy now and spare him from this life of misery and pain?" She refrains, however, and instead dedicates herself to destroying Stefan at any cost. The shadows around her shift and crawl with malevolence as she embraces the pain.

Shortly after, Stefan tracks Talisa down in the slums and makes a point to brawl in front of Rogan, once more beating her down. As he leaves, he points threateningly at the boy. On the ground, Talisa fixes him with a death-stare as her shadow seethes.

In a bid to regain what Stefan has taken from her, Talisa goes to work - this time ambushing a rich merchant in his sedan chair. She scuffles messily with his guards, and manages to make off with some money and jewellery.

Stefan hears about Talisa's heist. Determined to prove himself the better thief, he works out a plan to rob a city official. Unfortunately the job does not go smoothly, and he ends up wounding the tax collector (perhaps fatally) and is witnessed leaving with only some of the loot.

Talisa connects with her darker side, training her shadow to reach out and inflict wounds with its Infernal Touch.

After his previous job went badly, Stefan must face his own pain revealed. He embraces it, walking the streets shouting like a madman to everyone that he's an assassin, he's going to destroy the city, and they'll all burn!

In a back-alley deal, Talisa trades the remainder of her coin for a crude shiv that she soon hopes to introduce to Stefan.

Stefan's once more walking around town challenging anyone and everyone to a fight. Talisa steps forward and accepts, and they agree to six rounds in the middle of the Pentangle, Oblim's town centre!

As soon as the duel begins, both fighters bring the full power of their considerable pain to bear! Stefan charges forward, while Talisa plays dirty; her shadow blurs and slides, obscuring her true location. The two fighters come together - Stefan lands a mighty head-butt, which drops Talisa to the ground. On her way down, however, she thrusts upward and lands a vicious blow with her shiv. Stefan stops in his tracks and crumples to the ground. Talisa slowly picks herself up, dazed but elated by her sudden victory!

The conflict beteen the two warriors has become such a major event and a disruption to the city that the underworld decides it's time to put an end to the feud once and for all. The Assassin's Guild will host one final match.

Stefan burns his bridges, "connecting" with the Assassin's Guild by getting up in the Rusty Chain and admitting his status as a member. He even goes as far as to point out other Guild members in the crowd, thus making himself really unpopular!

Since he deliberately spent little money and thus performed really badly, this move allowed John to generate a lot of extra Pain to bring to the final match.

Talisa goes on one final trading expedition, spending all of her duel winnings on a bag of caltrops and a nasty "scissor-blade" qatar.

The Caltrops give +3 to Manoeuvre, and the Qatar gives +3 Power.

The duel takes place in a smoky stone arena, a circular bricked pit deep beneath the city. The crowd seethed with expectance and malevolence, eager for blood.

At the first bell, both warriors erupt from their corners, going all-out. Both bring the full weight of their pain to bear, pulling out all the stops to try and end the fight quickly. However, the collision of fury almost cancels itself out; after the exchange, Stefan manages to inflict a small wound.

With Traits, Tactics, Items and Pain, we ended up drawing about 21 cards each for the attack!

Stefan brings the pain again, so Talisa goes on the defensive. This time Stefan manages to overpower Talisa and knock her down, and it looks as though he will dominate the match.

Talisa uses her dark powers, blurring in and seriously wounding Stefan with her shadow. She leeches off some of his health, restoring her own wounds in the process.

Stefan attempts an aggressive advance, but Talisa dances to the side and uses her shiv to stab him in the leg, slowing him down a little.

Both warriors are starting to wear down, and both go on the defensive. They briefly connect with each other, but neither manages to have much effect.

In the final round, Stefan charges forward aggressively. Talisa manages to trip him, and he smashes face-first into the floor!

At the final count, Stefan has 3 VP to Talisa's 5 VP. Talisa is declared the champion, much to her surprise and relief!

Now that Stefan has proven himself unworthy and a liability, the Assassin's Guild members leap upon him and tear him to pieces, throwing his body into the river.

Despite the riches and glory that come with victory, Talisa catches sight of Rogan in the crowd. The orphan, whom she had tried to protect from the horror and violence of her world, is watching her with enthusiasm and pride, the gleam of admiration in his eye. She sees Rogan's shadow blur and shift as hers does, and a feeling of anguish grips her as she realises her victory has only maintained the cycle of darkness and despair.

In the end, our characters sacrificed all they held dear in order to achieve ultimate victory. Both of our characters' Hope was many times lower than Pain.

Having gone through and figured out which scenes result in what changes, it's very easy to accumulate Pain and very difficult to gain Hope. The game's Hope/Pain economy is pretty much set up so that, unless things go perfectly for you, having Hope higher than Pain probably means you'll be lacking the resources required to actually win fights. Embracing Pain is a quick and easy way to gain power, but using this tactic all but guarantees that you'll get a "bad ending" and realise all your worst Fears for your Connections.

Eternal Contenders is a fun and interesting game. I need to work more at creating and embellishing descriptions of what's happening. There are many areas of the rules that say "this should be narrated appropriately" but there is almost nothing specifically tying the narration to the mechanics (apart from justifying Item use). It would be possible to play through a game by referring entirely to the mechanics, with no descriptions other than "I train my Power" or "I hit you, dealing two Wounds."

I suppose that this sort of descriptiveness depends entirely on the group. Having run Apocalypse World, though, I can see how descriptions in that are required in order to feed into the mechanics, and that the mechanics also feed back into the fiction. While it's awesome the way it does that, I'm not entirely sure how I can apply a similar structure to Neon Burn. The racing part of the game is pretty much all mechanical, feeding into the fiction insofar as it provides a result for the event (shot down, drop out, place, win). However, as it stands, it doesn't really matter how you describe your driving style, the dice aren't going to be affected. During the "roleplaying scenes" there's currently not much procedural incentive for adding descriptions apart from personal preference. I haven't quite finalised the procedure for playing out scenes though, so I'll look out for places where the fiction might be able to direct the mechanics.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Eternal Contenders: Oblim Harbour

After my two-player game with John, I got together with Barb and Rohin to try a three-player game of Eternal Contenders. We played a short game over two sessions, but I didn't have time to blog the first session straight away, so the entire account is in this post. I'll try to keep it brief!

  • Barb plays Alchё-Morei, a Dark-Friend cultist, worshipper of the dark god Xuxanadora. He wields an iron sacrificial stake. He hopes to build a temple and establish his religion firmly in Oblim, and fears that his cult might slip into obscurity.
  • Rohin plays Rudolf the Red-Guard, a Militant ex-mercenary. He's equipped with a tower shield. The Red-Guard company has fallen on hard times, with their remaining members scattered. Rudolf hopes to rebuild the company, and fears that their name will be forgotten to history.
  • I play Cadence Bell, a Rapscallion sailor whose father's shipping company has fallen on hard times. She's equipped with a small anchor-like grapple on a rope. She hopes to gain the funds and support to rebuild the company, and fears that her father will die a penniless and broken man.

Cadence works at the docks, moving crates around. It's modest work, but the paymaster short-changes her and she only earns half pay for her effort.

Alchё works by taking on an assassination contract. While he's successful, he's witnessed fleeing the scene and earns only half pay for a sloppy job.

The business colleague of Alchё's victim is on his way to pay for a hit on Alchё  when Rudolf goes to work by attempting to rob him! Unfortunately he fails, and is pursued by the city watch.

As Alchё returns to his abode in the poor district near the docks, Cadence robs him, getting away with some of his money!

Alchё challenges Cadence to a duel at the docks! It will be fought over five rounds, with no special rules.

The Watch eventually caught up with Rudolf, but he forms a connection with their Sergeant who recognises him as a veteran. Rudolf hopes to gain a position in the Watch, and fears being rejected and chased out of town.

Cadence and Alchё duel at the docks! Rudolf is among the spectators. The duel drags out into the full five rounds, with both warriors giving it everything they have. In the end, Alchё emerges victorious on points!

Alchё increases his Manoeuvre by training in the waters off the docks, trying to catch whiting with his teeth.

Rudolf works for the Watch, cleaning up drunks around the waterfront. He earns his wages, but one of the ruffians he cleaned up must have lightened his purse.

Cadence connects with her father, Yarvin Bell, and gives him some of the money she's earned. He's grateful, and Cadence feels hopeful about the future.

Alchё works by selling some of the fish he's caught at the docks. He doesn't earn much, and manages to spike his hand on a sharp fish-fin.

Rudolf works on his muscles, training his Power up.

This is where we ended the first session.

Cadence attempts to rob Alchё again, but he sees her coming and warns her off.

Alchё challenges Rudolf to a duel; it will be four rounds, with no special rules.

The duel between Alchё and Rudolf takes place at the docks, with Cadence observing. Alchё bets a little on himself.
Round One - Alchё comes in hard with his stake and Darkness techniques, and stabs Rudolf through the shoulder! 
Round Two - Both warriors bring the pain! Alchё manages to slip past Rudolf's tower shield to inflict a minor wound.
Round Three - Rudolf goes on the defensive, but Alchё comes in strong. Rudolf does little to slow his opponent down, and Alchё wins with a knockout!
As Alchё's collecting his winnings and leaving the docks, Cadence slips past and robs him of a little money. He has no idea where it went!

Alchё connects with his cult by investing in some building materials and starting work on the foundations of his Temple to Xuxanadora. Hope fills his dark heart.

Rudolf challenges Cadence to a duel! It will be to first blood, in a Godless arena.

Cadence and Rudolf meet for their duel on a narrow jetty. The loser will be the first person to be knocked in the water! Rudolf goes on the defensive, trying to skip out of the way. Cadence barrels straight past him, catching a glancing blow on the way. Her grapple trails behind her, latching onto Rudolf; with her momentum, she pulls him off-balance and sends him into the water!

Alchё tries to rob Cadence at the fish markets, but fails and the tables are turned. She teaches Alchё a lesson by taking his iron stake off him.

Rudolf does more work for the Watch, clearing up drunks around the docks.

Cadence works by lugging cargo around the docks. It's menial labour, but honest and happy work.

Alchё tries to rob Cadence again at the docks, but one of her dock-worker buddies warns her to watch her back and Alchё is forced to withdraw.

Rudolf starts a brawl with Alchё, but Alchё wins. Rudolf is forced to crawl away, humiliated.

At this point, Alchё's Renown reached the Endgame Trigger, and Rudolf's Pain became high enough to trigger his Pain Revealed.

Cadence returns home and gives all of her money to her father, gaining hope that they'll soon be able to rebuild the shipping company.

Alchё heads to the markets and buys an iron fire-poker, because it's really hard to find a place that sells sacrificial stakes of Xuxanadora.

Rudolf confronts his inner pain and gives in to it, becoming consumed with self-loathing and the desperation to prove himself.

The grand Tournament is declared, with fame and glory for the winner! The warriors all agree to a single three-way match, in an Enlightening arena.

The Arena conditions mean we each picked up a new Technique for this fight only.

The Tournament begins! Alchё and Rudolf both bring the pain, but Cadence holds back and goes on the defensive. Rudolf mirrors her defensive stance. There is a mighty exchange of blows; Alchё goes wild on Cadence with his poker, knocking her out cold and reclaiming his sacrificial stake. Although Rudolf manages to land a couple of blows, nothing can quell Alchё's fury. By the end of Round One, Alchё s knocked both Cadence and Rudolf out clean! The cultist is declared the winner, and riches and glory are showered upon him.


Cadence's father is still OK, but they aren't any closer to fulfilling their dream of restarting the shipping company either. It'll take a lot more hard work to get things off the ground.

Despite winning the Tournament, Alchё's cult is still forced to lurk in the shadows. Although he's made a start on the Temple to Xuxanadora, he, too, has a long way to go.

Transformed into a dark and twisted individual, Rudolf hunts down and personally puts an end to all of the surviving members of the Red-Guards. He's eventually arrested and executed for his crimes.

Cadence could possibly have won the final Tournament if I'd opted to Bring the Pain as well. I decided to hold back and try to just survive the first round, mostly because I had Hope at 4 and Pain at 3 and I wanted to try and come out of this game with a positive result. Unfortunately, losing the match meant I gained Pain, and so I got an ambivalent ending. If I'd Brought the Pain as well, my Pain would have equalled my Hope - but if I'd won the Tournament I could have both lost a point of Pain and gained a point of Hope! You live and learn.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Eternal Contenders: Oblim, Round 1

I've been thinking a lot about the GM-less part of Neon Burn, and although I think I have a fairly good handle on the way I want it to work, I've decided to try out a couple of GM-less games to get a better feel for them. I've read through a few such games, and read reviews of others, but there's nothing like a bit of practical experience.

Last night, John and I made a couple of fighters for Eternal Contenders and managed to get through quite a few scenes since there was just the two of us.

The game uses playing cards for scene resolution, more detailed round-by-round fights, and for random events. Generally, red cards are successes and black cards are failures, but whoever drew the highest black card gets to narrate the outcome of the scene. Normally the player to your left represents the Forces of Adversity; as it was just the two of us, we provided adversity for the other.

Character creation was pretty quick; there's only a few points to assign, and only a handful of Techniques to consider rather than an expansive list. The hardest part was coming up with a good concept and a suitable Connection - the thing or person your warrior's hopes rest on.

  • I play Talisa, a Dark-Friend street urchin who's caring for a young orphan boy. She hopes to gain fame and glory so she can provide him with a better life, and fears that he might end up as a good-for-nothing like herself. As a fighter she is quick and lithe, focusing on Mobility and Guard. Her dark power comes from a mysterious shadowy entity that inhabits her body, although the details remain hazy.
  • John plays Stefan, a Rapscallion with aspirations to run the local assassin's guild. He hopes to climb through their ranks, and fears being run out of town by them - or worse. As a fighter he focuses on the long haul, with high Guard and Stamina.

Since there's no GM, players take turns framing scenes for their own characters, which fall into various categories - I'll mark the scene types with bold in the narrative. As I want to talk about the session structure and both of our choices, I won't be writing the entry from my character's point of view.

We decided to set the game in the provided dark fantasy setting, the port city of Oblim.

With little wealth on hand, Talisa decides to work the crowd at the Pentangle crossroads by lightening some purses. Unfortunately, as she moves in on a mark, someone bumps her from behind and she is pushed into her intended victim. There is a hue and cry, and she is grabbed and dragged away by the city guard to spend the night in a cell. She manages to give them the slip before being thrown in the dungeon.

The very first scene went really badly, as I drew no successes against one success from the job. Utter failure!

Stefan seeks out a back-alley dealer and trades coin for a potent poison.

Talisa, still destitute and having heard about Stefan's purchase, wants the poison for herself and decides to rob him. She jumps him in a dark alleyway and manages to wrest the bottle from his possession before darting away into the night.

Stefan refuses to give up so easily, and gives chase to teach her a lesson. The two engage in a vicious back-street brawl, but neither can overwhelm the other. They are forced to break it up and flee in opposite directions as the alarm is raised and the Watch draws near.

John only realised he could add a bonus success to Threat scenes due to his "Ominous" Technique after we'd resolved the robbery. Both Robbery and Brawl are Threat scenes; it was only with the bonus success that he managed to draw even in the brawl.

Talisa still desperately needs coin, so she takes on menial work as a courier delivering a package of illegal goods across town for a crime boss. Unfortunately the city is crawling with guards, no doubt on alert after all the back-alley fighting that's been going on, so she's forced to take many detours to avoid patrols. She delivers the package eventually but is late, so receives only half the promised pay and a clip around her ear for her trouble.

Stefan takes on work from the Assassin's Guild - a minor contract to assassinate one of the city guards who's been a little too zealous in his duties. Although he manages to complete the deed, he is witnessed doing so, and the authorities know his face. He manages to escape, but only receives half pay for a messy job.

John realised that it's more profitable to set a large payment (which makes the job more difficult) and hope that, with at least one success, you'll earn half the pay and a point of Pain. Taking smaller jobs increases the chance of outright success (and a full, but small, payment), but it doesn't much alter the chance of you failing utterly by getting no successes at all, as I did in the first scene. If you get no successes, your only hope is that the job draws no successes either.

Talisa connects with the young orphan she's caring for. The two of them are basically camping out in a ruined building, and Talisa's trying to prevent him from becoming involved in the slum society. She spends all her wealth to bring him food. While he's OK for the moment, though, he's still no closer to putting his life on the streets behind him.

Neither I nor the Forces of Adversity got any successes on this scene, so the outcome was "ambivalent."

Stefan connects with his contact at the Assassin's Guild, apologising for the messy job and offering a tithe to smooth things over. His contact is pleased, and it looks as though Stefan's career in the Guild is on its way up. 

Talisa sought Stefan out in the dingy tavern known as the Rusty Chain, and challenged him to a duel! She taunted him about thinking he's a big-shot now he's killed a Guard, but that didn't stop her stealing his poison vial earlier! He accepts the challenge, and they are swept downstairs to the basement arena by a crowd eager for blood!

We drew randomly for the details of the fight. I had a choice between a 2 or 4 round fight, and chose 2 as it was getting late and Talisa doesn't have the Stamina for long matches. We also ended up with a Healing Arena which would automatically remove a Wound at the end of each round; we kind of forgot about that, but as it turns out it wouldn't have had any effect on a two-round fight because of the Wound allocation timing.

The duel begins on the dusty, sawdust-strewn basement floor, surrounded by a crowd of onlookers. Stefan bets all of his remaining money on himself; penniless, Talisa can only hope for a victory to fill her purse.

This is an all-or-nothing match to see who can fight their way out of the gutter, so Stefan comes powering out of his corner and Talisa is forced to go all-out to match him! She ducks low and fast, manoeuvring past his buckler and inflicting a minor wound with her poisoned wrist-blades!

In game terms, John opted to Bring the Pain: once per fight, a Warrior can add their Pain rating to their attack, and if they hit, half their Pain to damage. I did the same and just came out on top, inflicting 1 Wound; however, I not only forgot to add half my Pain to the damage I drew, but I also forgot to draw the 3 extra damage cards Talisa gets when Bringing the Pain because of her "Faith in Pain" Technique... so I could have done a lot better!

Stefan continues his rampage, bearing down on Talisa to crush her with his mighty fists. She tries to throw dust in his eyes and take his feet out from under him, but he barrels straight through and smashes his fist into her head. Talisa is knocked to the ground, her ears ringing. Although she stands, the match is over.

Due to his "Blackguard's Faith" Technique, Stefan can Bring the Pain twice in one fight. Since Talisa was unable to do so, I chose Dishonourable Devices in an attempt to maximise my defence and offence. Although the judges didn't spot the trick and penalise her, the tactic didn't help much.

Stefan wins the match, with 2 VP to 1. He gains wealth and accolades, while Talisa earns a pittance and must slink off into the shadows. She has been pushed to the limit, and is now on the edge of doing something desperate to improve her situation.

Stefan gained 2 Wealth, plus another 2 from his wager, plus 2 Renown, and lost a point of Pain. Talisa gained 1 Wealth and a point of Pain, and would have gained 1 Renown except it was cancelled out because I used Dishonourable Devices and then lost the fight!

I had a really fun time, and it's been great to write up as well. Apart from needing to frequently look up procedures and clarify rules, the game was quick, light, and easy. Now we've played a couple of hours of it, things should start to play more smoothly.

I can't say the cards were particularly kind to me, but it was still fun to see my character being ground down and nearly overwhelmed with the pain of her existence. I'm looking forward to seeing if Talisa will resist the spiral into darkness, or turn into a hopelessly lost monster. So far we're about half-way through the game, so another good session ought to finish it off. Once a Warrior reaches a certain Renown score (depending how long you want the game to last) it triggers an End-Game tournament which determines the overall champion and resolves all of the Warriors' hopes or fears.

It worked pretty well just with the two of us, but I'm really looking forward to trying it out with a larger group!

>>> Round 2

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Savage Devonport 5

Last time, our heroes pursued a group of orcs into the twisted landscape of the Shattered Mountain in search of the Lost Library. Having overcome the orcs, they began exploring the ruins...
  • +Annette plays Snowfall, a Human Paladin whose family owns an apothecary in Stormhaven.
  • David plays Ret Inas, a Human Thief from the village of Dryfield.
  • James plays Angus Arrowbeard, a Dwarven Archer/Rogue from a hold to the North.
  • Michael plays Novim, an Elf Ranger who has sworn fealty to the Lord of the Jagged Coast.
  • Sasha plays Kae Swiftfoot, a Monk/Rogue who owns a corn farm North of Stormhaven.
  • Shane plays Typhus, a Wizard who seeks to make his fortune.

After exploring the doorway to the left and defeating a brood of giant spiders, the party returns to the main chamber and unlocks the doorway to the right. Kae manages to avoid a poisoned needle trap in the lock. Beyond, they discover only a series of derelict rooms and hallways, with most of the books long since mouldered and rotten. They manage to find a stairway up, and come out on the walkway surrounding the main chamber one floor up - the stairs down to the ground floor had long since collapsed.

Always willing to walk straight into danger, Kae steps out first, and is nearly hit by a stone gargoyle plummeting from the upper galleries! Three more circle downwards on rigid wings, and battle is met! The gargoyles' tough hide makes them difficult to put down. One manages to engage Novim in close combat, and requires some cross-fire to defeat. Soon the gargoyles lie shattered into piles of rubble, and the party has suffered no major injuries.

In an alcove, they discover an enchanted longsword. The blade is covered in mystical sigils that Typhus identifies as a Shapeshifting spell. Ret claims it as he desperately needs a stronger melee weapon, having only been armed with a knife.

From the balcony here, they can see some alcoves very high up on the opposite side of the chamber, among shattered stone walkways. There seems to be something in one, but they can't tell what. Also, directly above them is a great jagged hole in the stonework leading into the mountain. They head upstairs, Typhus leading the way through a maze of corridors and hallways, until they reach the chamber that opens out onto the central chamber through the broken wall.

The large chamber has a single door from the passageways. Three of its walls are solid and strong, but the fourth facing onto the central tower chamber has been bashed or broken through, leaving a large jagged hole. The floor here is covered with the dried and dismembered carcasses of many creatures; this is obviously the lair of some fierce beast, although they can't immediately identify it.

From here, the walkway around the central chamber is broken and intermittent. In an alcove opposite, they can see what looks like a shiny suit of mail. Rather than risk jumping across the gaps, Ret uses his new sword to transform into a hawk and fly across. On the other side, he finds a mail hauberk, and also discovers a black leather-bound spellbook with pages of woven metal cloth.

Before he can secure the items and return, the group hears the beating of powerful wings approach. They call out to Ret, who has time to throw the armour and the book off the ledge onto the floor far below just before a wyvern flies through the cracked dome! It screeches as it discovers people in its lair, and swoops to attack Typhus! He backs away as Kae, Snowfall, and Angus step forward to engage it in close combat. Ret turns back into a hawk and flies towards the wyvern's back, attempting to attack it in the back with his longsword by changing back after making it to the other side. Unfortunately his blow is turned aside by its thick hide.

Lashing with tooth and poisonous tail-sting, the wyvern rages against the heroes. It inflicts several near-misses, but good luck saves the adventurers from harm. After an epic battle it succumbs to their blows and falls dead, with Kae striking the final wound!

They take the time to dig through the bone-litter, uncovering some coin, and then head downstairs to investigate the treasure flung from the alcove. Typhus identifies both items. The armour is known as the Hauberk of the Mage-Slayer, and grants the wearer great resistance to magic. The book is a Tome of Zombie, which Typhus keeps even though the spell is as yet beyond his capabilities.

Having scoured the Library for all that it now holds, the party makes their way back to the village of Dryfield to rest, resupply, and consider their next adventure.

That was the last session of Savage Worlds we'll be playing for a while. Not a particularly conclusive end, but at least the fight with the wyvern was a nice "boss fight." The campaign is going on indefinite hiatus while Sasha starts running a game of D&D Next using the current playtest rules.

>>> To be continued..?