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From the prow of your ship you see the island come into view. At first it is nothing but a glint on the horizon, then a shining sphere.. a ...

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The third annual Krampus Game!


(Third annul Krampus Game , Quick Run down, inaccuracies due to foul memory)

This years Krampus game was run under the cypher system, specifically “The Strange” subset of rules.

Our team who work for a investigative unit reminiscent of the TV show Warehouse 13 have been tasked to find out why a recursion known as “Halloween land,” (which comes in the form of a Jumanji like board game) was suddenly plunging into winter. Such things just don't happen and could be a threat to reality as we know it so off we went.

This was not our groups first encounter with Halloween Land as back in October we were sucked into the board game and had to find our way out. Naturally this lead to none of our character really wanting to have anything to do with that place again. in the end ALL OF reality is a big place and it was up to us to save it.

In we went, and indeed the seasons were changing in a recursion that was supposed to be all Halloween all the time. The trick or' treaters huddling for warmth in the local pub drinking their dank drinks and eating soft candy. 

We started asking questions. Well sort of, one of our number Dr. Phoenix came though the transition in the form of a half dressed goblin, a thing that does not even raise eyebrows in ole' Halloween town. And Douglas Trent set about getting himself a costume by druggie a patron and stripping them in the bathroom.

Jenny and Shamus both investigative types, Shemus because that's what he is good at, and Jenny because she looks for trouble, started 
digging around for info.

The characters found information concerning the big top near the center of town so we left the bar.
(Much to the parties delight we did discover that a witches broom if thrown returns the the thrower a bit like Thor's hammer.)

During our trip we were ambushed in an alleyway  by a troop of  Gingerbread Ninjas or  "Ninja-bread men".
No light weights these guys were stale and hard as stone.
Sheamus noted that there were softened by exposure to milk, but who the hell has that much milk?
We fought them and were beginning to wipe the royal icing of the  bastards when another problem reared it's ugly head.

It woudl seem that while we were fighting the Ninja-breadmen a large jack-o-lantern headed scarecrow golem had snuck up on us from the other side!

Surrounded we had no choice but fight on and in time the group dispatched the Ninja Crackers and turned our full attention to the golem. Luckily Douglass Trent was smart enough to set the thing flame, and Jenny extinguished the monsters own internal candles, all in all it took the whole team to take the beast down.


Also along the way we stopped by the tent of the “man with Five heads” this cryptic beast had a sign outside his door that read “do not enter alone” so naturally we went in as group. The creature was a man with one central head and four smaller sub-head around its mid rift, each of these sub heads was gagged and unable to speak.

We asked the creature if it knew what was going on , and it said, “Yes but it was a secret it could only tell one of us.”
remember that don't go in alone sign? Jenny was having none of this proposed alone time, but Shamus though it might be worth the risk. The party discussed the decision for a few moments and kind of decided Shamus is a grown ass man and can do what he wants so we left him alone with the five headed creepy guy.
A few seconds latter Shamus was ejected from the tent, beat up and dazed with no memory of what kind of abuse he had just endured. Naturally he was pissed so he went back in looking for his attacker and the five headed man was gone. We only hope Shamus can get over it.

After a few more minutes we arrived at the big top only to find a meeting of village elders in progress. It seems that the elders were all pointing fingers at each other and placing blame for the on set of winter, talking about rules and tenants of Halloween land. The party interrupted and explained we were here to help, then because our own round of blaming people, particularly the witch that made the jack-o-lantern golem that tried to kill us.

In the middle of all this craziness, the KRAMPUS appeared in a puff of smoke, and claimed gingerbread dragon which once summoned breathed sticky frosting all over us, which while delicious did some serious damage.

We were all prepared to meet our gum drop button doom, when Douglass Trent came up with a masterful idea, he challenged the dragon not to a fight but to a battle of riddles!
The riddels flew and Douglass came out on top banishing the Krampus's Champion, with this blow to his power and his plan in tatters the Krampus said a few threatening words and also retreated back to his own recursion. Halloween land was saved!
dominion of the land , or at least the desire to challenge for it. The Krampus picked as his champion a giant

There was much rejoicing in the big top but our party had had enough of this in sane land that was stuck in the world of costumes and candy. We shifted back to our own recusion of Earth and reported what we had found.

And so ended the third edition of Krampus .
While defeated the demon was not destroyed so he lives to harass us for another year!



-Mark





Friday, December 18, 2015

Krampus, Krampus, Krampus.


Tonight is our game group's third annual Krampus game.



The first year Jay ran the game using D&D, and Krampus died.
Last year I ran the game using a melange of systems .. Krampus.. Died.

This year Neal runs the game, using the cypher system!
Can we keep the streak alive?

Only time will tell.




Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ships of the Sea.

In my past few posts I mentioned that I have been working on an RPG called "Shards of Thimbral." This has been kind of an endless project. (You can go back on this blog and look at the  tags if you like that sort of thing.) It's not that I have spent that much time on the project. I have read about people who work on a game for years and years before they are ready to present. What I can say is for all the time I have been kicking the idea of "Shards" around for a couple of years and have shockingly little to show for it.

What I do have to show for it is a notebook with ideas, and sketches of bigger ideas. Part of those ideas has always been a very exploration, discovery based game that give the characters ample room to make their own story.
It started as "Floating islands in the sky" however, it turns out someone already did that and my ideas were way too close to theirs for my comfort.
So I have moved on to actual islands in the sea, which has it's own charms and complications.

One of those complications is this, once I start talking about ships on the sea lobbing cannonballs at each other, I have touched history. Once a designer touches history, even if it's just a glancing blow, then some nod to history should be made. If real history is totally ignored then the  framework of the game becomes surrealist and our boats can be made to look like anything and behave in any way. That's not my intent.  I would like surreal exceptions in a game with a degree of structure.

So with that as a goal now I have to research warships from the age of sail but predating the full on "ship of the Line designs of the 17th to mid 19th century. Not that I don't love  giant ship as much as the next fella, I do! However, in game terms I don't want to keep track of all that fire power. besides French 74's are the gateway drug to every player wanting to pilot their own Mahmudiye or Valmy. I am thinking I will stick to technology dating from  pre-1588 or pre Spanish armada.

Here again  I don't want to hedge myself in. It's the internet's fault mostly. I know very well that whatever setting distinctions I make for the  ships in my fantasy game, there will be some  internet Phd who wrote their thesis on naval tactics circa 1500 who can and will pick the historic details, no matter how tenuous, apart.  What I am not looking to write is a complex tactical ship combat sim. Fist of all this is an RPG and  I'm not in the camp that thinks RPG's benefit from long drawn out simulations. Secondly I don't have enough knowledge on the subject to write a good ship combat sim. Or at least a combat sim that would not get picked over like a dead opossum on the side of the road as soon as I posted it.

So I am left with a design decision.
I very much want to boil the  ship to ship combat down to what is important to me. For me the ship itself is secondary to the  quality and disposition of it's crew. Plainly put you can have a great ship but if the crew is garbage, you're in trouble.

For the ship aspects of my game I'm going to be concentrating on the ships crew, and damage to that crew during battle. My goal is to write a system where the players will honestly lament the death of a key crew member. I want the crew to grow with the ship and with the characters.

To that end:

  • I will start the party off with a ship and  a small crew. 
  • Players will be able to level up crew members as their character level up.
  • Ship maneuvers and firing in combat will be crew based. 
  • Orders will be given by players and the crew will carry the orders out based on the crews experience and skills.
  • The crew will be broken into groups of 5 individuals.
  • The groups will take damage when a ships hull is breached.
  • Crew will get injured and killed in a pretty unforgiving random fashion. Cannonballs shower a deck with  splintered wood, some live, some die there's no reason to it.
  • Bigger ships will require bigger crews.
  • Bigger guns will require whole groups to fire and reset.
  • Bigger crews will require more supplies to support.
My final goal is to write the ship to ship combat portion of the game so that players take the decision to engage another vessel very seriously. They might hesitate because the  cost is not just hull points or rigging, it's NPC's that the  players have grown since they first created their characters. In other words a fight puts at risk a resource the players would find harder to replace than simple timbers.




Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A list of ways to discover something awful.

A list of ways to discover something awful.
(Dear blogger. Thanks for goof'n up the  original formatting, big help that.)



The dog was always digging in the same spot, so we decided to dig there too. It wasn’t long before we found a capstone and the stench reached our noses.

The town has been here a long time. Before the town this  was Gnoll territory, before that  who knows. What we do know is that the canals that were covered over to make way for the town's expansion were here long before we were.

No matter where you are in this town, if you spin a knife it will always point to the  town's center.

My grandfather told us a story once about a farmer he knew uncovering a great stone door while plowing his fields. Supposedly the old man was so frightened by what he found that he covered the  door over and let that field go fallow.

When the moon is full there is one statue in the local graveyard that does not throw a shadow.

Just outside of town a small brook tumbles down from the  mountains. Follow that brook to its source there you will find a small cave.

Every year a drifter wearing heavy homespun leather clothing travels through these parts. It is said he knows every cave, nook,  and, crannie in the area. He rarely speaks and is distrusting of most people. (Appropriated from the local legend of the Leatherman's loop*.)

Near here there is an old logging road that leads to a camp. That logging camp has been deserted for years. The old timers say they used to mine semi precious stones in that valley, but the exact location of the mine has been lost to time.

Goblin footprints in the furrows of the fields.

You’re new here so you need to know. After planting day every household leaves an offering of game on their porch. You HAVE TO do it, understand?

There has been a large fish kill in the nearby creek. Many of the the local trout have washed up in the past few days, and the  water looks cloudy. Something must have happened up stream.

While working on the  foundation of a new grain silo the  local mason uncovered what appears to be a piece of ancient monumental statuary.

All of the horses are gone.

A cold draft has started blowing from the barn foundation. If you stand just so you can feel it.

During some renovations on the manor house these strange papers were found in the  wall. The old, faint appear to mention a cave located just about where the fountain is placed in the back yard.

There is an old story in town that three young people once went into the  woods near Sommer’s Mill and no sign of them was ever seen again. Ever since that stretch of woods has been off limits.

The Duke’s land managers often burn down squatters cabins when they find them. Recently on one such occasion it was discovered the squatter in question had dug a shaft under the cabin into an old forgotten mine.

There is a fairy ring in  Miltner’s field.
(1d10 sub chart)
1.     Nothing grows there, the earth stays damp and brown.
2.     On the  first rainy night of spring strange toads emerge from the ring.
3.     If lightning strikes near the ring the  silhouette of a large manor house can be seen                               for a few moments afterward.
4.     The mushrooms that grow in the ring  will move on their own and rearrange themselves to form         strange symbols.
5.     If it rains the the water puddles in the ring, and woman drinking the water from her own hands             will find it easier to conceive a child.
6.     It is the first place in the  area sunlight hits on the spring solstice.
7.     Sprits can be seen moving about the  ring on moonlight nights, but only from the  corner of your         eye.
8.     It is the  location the  great worm retreated underground.
9.     A very evil man is buried there, no plant will take root in his presence.
10.   The wee folk maintain the ring as a sporting pitch.

Ohlson’s house was swallowed by a sinkhole!

In this very in at this very  hearth a devil once played cards with mortal men. When a simple stable boy saw the devils hoof under the table the beast was exposed and fled. Before fleeing the devil cursed the inn so that no ale or bread would remain fresh under its roof. The devil's mark can still be seen on the  chimney through which it flead.

Clive can call Fairy’s and  they sometimes get up to mischief of their own.

A recent storm unearthed the  hull of a long forgotten shipwreck in a nearby cove.

When the empire took over they insisted we all follow their religion. The old cathedral on the edge of town has stood empty ever since. Run down now it is nearly a ruin. The  empire has decreed it off limits, but when has that ever stopped us?

The footbridge over Layfees river was created when the the rock melted under the blazing hooves of a fleeing devil. The devil jumped the  river and the drops of cooling stone formed a perfect arc over the  swift waters. I was told that on  moonlit nights you can still see the smoke rising from the bridge and the  same devil appears on the far bank to accept bargains.

Rolfeson’s barn was destroyed by a torch from the sky!

-Mark


*most games could have a place for the leatherman.