Kento’s Story – Session 01

War, now memory
Shed blood shared turns to shared blood

Three swear brotherhood
How quickly children forget

A peace can not last
Brothers betray their brother

Son against uncle
Sworn cousin against cousin
Now, Nihon is Burning

The other half of of our pair of one on one Burning Wheel games is a game of the Blossoms are Falling. Neither of us has done Blossoms before, so it should be an interesting experience!

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Maxim’s Story – Session 01

So, on the 1st of the month, I met online with a new roleplaying buddy Blaine, to organize a pair of one on one Burning Wheel games. The plan is to meet weekly and switch off on GMing every week (So I control a PC one week, GM the next, and so on). The session 0 we had was pretty sweet and I had been working on writing it up, but in the interest of getting the actual AP written up, I’ll just summarize what we came up with for this game and get right to it.

We had decided pretty early on that we both wanted to play nobles who had gotten screwed over and were out for revenge. By virtue of the fact that it made for some better drama, and the fact it saved an RP during character burning it ended up being our PC’s uncle who was our enemy. It’s a parallel in both games, so when I go into the other game next week, expect to see it again.

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Still Not Dead! Gaming in the Last Month

From my last post:

That’s where we will pick up tonight, I might be too busy to get tonight’s session written up by the weekend, but I will try to get it done by monday.

Apparently that’s code for “You won’t here from me for a month”, sorry about that guys! I got out of the habit of writing, feels bad, I should have made time for it. I figured I can at least give a state of the union update.

Devil Survivor is actually going fairly well, even if I hadn’t written about it. My excitement levels have gone a bit down on it, and I don’t find myself thinking about it outside of game time as much, but given how long it has been running, I don’t think that’s really that unusual. It helps that the players are starting to surprise me more, so the sessions are needing to become more improvised anyway.

Plot wise, the two managed to make it out of the Cult’s sanctum without any real incidents, they can tell the cult wants something from them and so isn’t going to just kill them, but they can’t tell what that is yet. Overnight, it seems as though O’Connor’s group has kicked things off with a bang and assassinated one of the Admins. Security and the rebels are now at each other’s throats and not really willing to help the PCs deal with the cult, so they’ve been trying to play both sides to get shit to calm down. There were some scenes I really wish I was playing a game with good social mechanics for (like Burning Wheel), because the pure RP versions felt a little lacking.

Speaking of Burning Wheel, I am in the process of organizing a new game to finally replace my old Sunday night game! It is a pair of One on One games with a guy I met through the Burning Wheel G+ Community, I’ll GM one and be the player in the other. Session 0 for both games is this Sunday, so I’ll try to fill you in on all the details next week.

I still really want to do my Torchbearer West Marches game, and this feeling has only been hyped up even more by the fact that a playtest of the overland travel rules, was released today. It seems exactly like the missing piece I needed to pull this off mechanically, now I just need the real world time to put in the legwork to get a group together. Finding that might be tricky as there is some other, non-gaming obligations I am looking to take on as well (with a bit higher priority). But it is still on my mind.

In videogames, e3 happened recently. Personally, I thought it was a rather underwhelming year, but some of Nintendo’s stuff looks pretty sweet (Mario and Metroid). Rabbids Kingdom battle actually looks really fun which probably was the surprise of the show. I don’t think the e3s can all be winners, what with how long game development cycles are, and so I hope next year will be even better.

Personally, I have been playing Crusader Kings II, Story of Seasons Trio of Towns (Married Illuka), and have just dipped into Ever Oasis and Tropico 4 (which I picked up in the steam sale). I was a bit iffy on Ever Oasis, and still not sure if I like it, but I’ll play it a bit more and see. Tropico seems pretty fun so far, and I do love the occasional management game.

In board gaming, my buddies and I actually met for a game night on Sunday, which was the first in a while. We played a round of Dungeon Busters, which finally gave me an excuse to punch the cardboard bits out of it! I ended up playing too conservatively, and so while I never lost any gems, didn’t pull in enough to win. I also finally got to play the Betrayal at House on the Hill expansion. That game ended with a friend of a friend having the choice between a collective victory, and a victory for only him. I’ll leave it at that the rest of us were not happy with his decision. We rounded out the night with two games of Secret Hitler, a hidden identity game where I ended up on the bad team with the same partner both times. We managed to pull of a win twice in a row, which managed to annoy my other friends that we fooled them twice. I’m hoping we can have another one soon!

That about covers my last month in gaming, I’m not going to make any hard promises about writing more entries (because we’ve seen what those are worth), but I am going to at least try, especially with my new Burning Wheel game coming up. Either way, see you next time I hit that publish button!

Actual Play: Devil Survivor 22XX – Sessions 14&15 – Tuesday (Parts 6 & 7)

Things have been busy at work lately, and I have been working on setting up a new laptop (which still doesn’t quite work the way I want it, it is what I get for picking a non-noob friendly distro of linux), and also have recently been getting into Crusader Kings 2 again, which is a huge time-sink.

Anyway, these last two sessions (and we have another tonight), were pretty good. Since Caine and Venkata split up at the end of last session, I ran a one on one for both of them simultaneously (which is an advantage of the text form).

Caine talked with Jake for a bit and asks about the men that attacked Chris and ruined his farm. Jake replies that the two men, to atone for their failure, are spending time in “reflection chambers”. It’s a funny little bit where Jake is trying to dress it up as nicely as possible for Caine, and it WORKS, except it just makes Caine MAD about the conditions they are in.

Caine asks to meet them, and I decide that it is more interesting than not allowing it, so Jake takes him to them. The “reflection chambers” are guarded, and, when he goes inside to talk to the first one, named Simon, he sees that they are completely dark inside and that this man has not had food or been out of here since the attack on the farm. Caine tries to get some information out of them, and it mostly seems to go along with Jake’s official story of things getting out of hand. Simon though, mistakes Caine for a cult member, reveals that the prophet is female. Before now I had been careful to either avoid pronouns, preferring ‘The Prophet’ when possible, or using a singular they/their when not. He realizes his mistake when Caine presses further and clams up.

Caine weighs his options and decides he is probably not getting any more out of these guys, and, while he would like the punish them somehow, he doesn’t think he can get away with it, and these guys are already in a bad spot for what they did anyway.

Meanwhile, Venkata changes into his robe, and goes in to find his girlfriend, Vanessa. She’s made a mess of this area and is munching on some snacks, but it seems like the room is a large magic circle of some kind. Venkata is on guard because it seems like she is here willingly, but at the very least she is happy to see him.

Venkata begins to ask her some questions, but she first asks him if he knows who the prophet is. He admits he doesn’t, and she tells him that means there is stuff she can not tell him. That naturally pisses him off, but she clarifies that she actually MEANS incapable, not merely will not. Still she can tell him about IG’s plan.

Summoning demons damages reality, and, in order to create their new world, IG will need to poke enough holes in the fabric of existence. Once that happens, they will consume the existing world and use it to make their new one, bringing a select few along for the ride.

Vanessa also confesses her role in all this, she is a demon, possessing a human body. It takes Venkata a while to get it, partly because she keeps beating around the bush. The key thing is though, that she has been a demon for as long as Venkata knew her. She is the goddess Mut and was summoned into an unborn baby as a means of her resurrection (the literal meaning of Shin Megami Tensei is “True Goddess Reincarnation”, and the rebirth of a goddess is a common theme in the series as a result). She will be the medium by which the Prophet will remake the world.

Venkata is not taking all this too well, but she manages to somewhat redeem herself in his eyes by saying that while she can not defy the Prophet due to their contract, she would be willing to let him kill her if he really wants to put a stop to it. He elects not to, and asks if there is an alternative. She tells him that IG can not proceed with their plan while the lockdown remains in place, and if he can gain control of the demon summoning programs before then and stop more demons from coming through, the world will eventually recover from the holes in reality on its own.

We call it there for both players. The week after ends up being a mostly player driven session, as the two of them mostly catch each other up IC. It’s a good session from a roleplaying point of view, and they did a good job coming up with their own next objective when I admitted OOC I didn’t have a “next step” planned for them.

They debate for a while, and decide that Ryan might be their best ally against the cult. He seems to have the demon summoning program already, and has an investment in the status quo which they are worried O’Connor’s people won’t have. Caine feels a bit torn, as he likes O’Connor and is a lower caste member himself, is pretty sympathetic to their plight. In the end though, he decides to trust Venkata’s judgement, and so they make plans for their next step to get out of here.

That’s where we will pick up tonight, I might be too busy to get tonight’s session written up by the weekend, but I will try to get it done by monday.

Bowed out of Sunday Night Game

No real role-playing insights for this one. We had ended The Good Shepherds, and were thinking about starting a game of Mage. We had a prologue sessions which I think went fine, if not a bit railroady, but hadn’t really done anything else for it since. Which is why I haven’t written anything about it.

Practically, I am getting to be a bit too busy to keep blocking off my Sunday Nights for a game that rarely happens. Would totally play with this group again though if we work out our scheduling issues, though, so will try to keep in touch.

Currently just running Devil Survivor so that’s all the APs I can give you at the moment, if I add another game, I’ll be sure to let you know!

Actual Play: Devil Survivor 22XX – Session 13 – Tuesday (Part 5)

Our sessions of Devil Survivor on Wednesday nights have pretty consistently become a single scene or two short ones a week. It’s the nature of the beast when we are playing text and only have about 2 to 3 hours to dedicate to it. I don’t think there is really anything wrong with this, but if these last few recaps (including this one) have seemed short, that’d be why.

Anyway, last time Caine and Venkata agree to basically be kidnapped in order to get access to the Cult’s sanctum. They get searched for weapons, Caine is unarmed, and Venkata willingly gives up most of his, but tries to sneak a stun gun by them. I call for a roll, his cover vs the guards will, and he just barely passes it. I describe it as a close call where the guard came THIS close to finding it.

They leave their demons behind, and Matthew asks them about their needs. The players are curious if there is a magical disadvantage to telling him this, and I tell them there isn’t (in fact, if anything it actually strengthens the binding), but it does mean that they’ll know what the demons want and could try to bribe them. They reply in vague terms and leave the demons behind

They get bags put over their head, since this game takes place inside a large building AND the elevators are out, the mode of transportation was being slung over these large men’s shoulders.

They are brought down to this area without much incident and are greeted by a man I tell Caine that he knows. His name is Jake (would have to check the logs for his last name), and he ran a greenhouse down the hall from Caine. Now, my original plan was to have this guy be someone Venkata knows, as the cult is the faction I tied most of his stuff to. I changed my mind at the last minute, because of how we’ve been lingering on Venkata stuff for a while, and I wanted to try to get Caine more involved.

Anyway, this Jake guy is NOT the Prophet either, who he says is “conserving their strength”, but says he is able to negotiate on the Prophet’s behalf. He apologizes for Caine’s farm, calling it “collateral damage”. He says they were trying to take Chris into their custody to contain the demon summoning program, and things got out of hand due to the people they sent jumping the gun. He comments that not only did those two fail in bringing him in, but they didn’t even take his COMP, inferring (since he knew Caine didn’t own one) that it was the same one Caine now had.

He offers Caine and Venkata a place to lay low as way of apology, and the two of them ask what the cult is planning. He replies, in fancier words, this world has gone to shit, so they are going to use demons to make a new one. When pressed for details he admits that the current world will be destroyed in the process, but he sees it as a necessary sacrifice.

Venkata wants to see his girlfriend, and so Jake has one of the cultists take him to her (I joke OOC that in the anime version this woman would be dressed as a Miko). He is lead down a hallway which has a dog-headed demon guarding the far door. The woman shows him a side door and asks him to go inside and bathe to “purify” himself. When he asks if that is really necessary, the demon insists.

We call it there, if I have time during the week we might try to do some one on one sessions for the split party so we can reunite come game day, but if not, I probably can just do both at once next Wednesday.

Building the Gulf of False Hope (Part 1)

I’m still kicking around the idea of that West Marches game I mentioned a few weeks back. I haven’t really got the ball rolling because I am not really sure if I have the time to commit to running it on top of my non-gaming obligations, which are kind of up in the air at this point. We’ll see where things settle, and worst case I will just have to wait until my schedule clears up to actually try to get anything off the ground.

Still, I have spent some time thinking about the region itself, both in terms of some cultural elements, physical geography, and other background information. This is more of a brain dump for my own benefit than anything I expect my future players to read, but if they (or you) are interested in this random world building stuff, feel free to read on.

Basics

As I briefly mentioned in the previously linked post, the setting is the “Gulf of False Hope”, a large natural bay across the sea from the civilized world. The Gulf appears a natural landing site for would be colonists attempting to tame the continent, and there have been several attempts to do so in the past. While some of these attempts lasted longer than others, all eventually met their end, which is how the Gulf earned its name.

Still, in every age there are those that are willing to risk it all for a chance to start over or improve their lot, and the Gulf has once again begun to see an influx of migrants believing that they will succeed where those that came before failed.

The game will start about 40 years after the first of the newest wave of settlers arrive on the Gulf. Humans, Halflings, and even young Dwarves will be young could easily have been born in the Gulf area. Elves, meanwhile have almost all been born overseas, but it is said that there is a hidden village of Elves that has survived since the last previous attempt. The coastal areas have mostly been cleared, and quite a few towns and villages have been established since then, but further inland remains wild and mostly unexplored. The previous attempts at taming the Gulf will have left lots of ruins, tombs, and other remnants of a bygone age that makes for classic dungeon crawling.

East and West

In the classic West Marches game, the adventure was, as the name implied, to the west, and civilization was back east. The Gulf of False Hope, however, is on the West Coast of its continent, meaning adventure is out east, and civilization to the west. There is no particular reason for this reversal, just that my very rough sketch of the Gulf placed it on the west coast.

The western (civilized) continent is called Asila, while the Gulf is on the continent of Pericolosa (not exactly subtle but still makes a cool name). In West Marches tradition, Asila is not a place for adventure, at least in terms of old-school dungeon crawling. No monstrous beasts, no unexplored ruins, no unmapped and unexplored sections of wilderness. Pericolosa, however, is the opposite. Outside of the (relatively) safe coastal areas, there are beasts and wild men, ruins and lost places, even dungeons and dragons.

Travel between Pericolosa and Asila takes about 4 to 8 weeks, depending on the winds and other factors. The Trade Winds along the latitude of the gulf tend eastward, so the return trip generally takes longer. It is not an impossible trip, but it is also not one that is made lightly, and, in the context of this game, if a PC gets on a boat to Asila, that is likely signaling that PC’s retirement.

The Salvatian League & The Gulf Colonies

I could probably spend a great deal of time going into the politics of Asila, but my efforts are best directed in keeping it to what is relevant for the game.
Most of the major sea powers of Asila have an interest in gaining the resources of Pericolosa, and over the last few decades, have been racing to claim their share of the pie. The region around the gulf is primarily occupied by the Salvatian League.

The Salvatian League is a loose federation of eight duchies. The federal government is an elective monarchy, with the eight dukes being both the sole electors and candidates. The Dukes generally see Pericolosa as a chance to not only expand the League’s power, but also their own power within the League, in hopes of leveraging that into becoming the next King or Queen.

The Salvatian League is a predominately human nation, with a noticeable Halfling minority. A few Dwarven Holds and Elven Forests exist as enclaves within its boarders, but aside from the traders, mostly keep to themselves. Salvati refers to the people, and the language (which replaces the common tongue given to all PCs), Salvatia is the name of the region, while goods and animals originating from there are Salvatian. Ethnic Salvati (of all 4 races), fall in line with the default rules in the rulebook, it’s boring, but it makes things easier.

Culturally, Salvati are a conservative society, and generally distrustful of outsiders or new ideas, although these traits are less pronounced in those that chose to start a new life in the Gulf, they are generally still present. They value self-reliance although not so much minding your own business. Both men and women Salvati are notorious gossips and rumor mongers; it is said that a Salvati would rather believe a well told tall tale than a boring truth.

This is starting to get a bit long, so I’ll leave other stuff for a future post. I still want to write on time/calendar, religion, locations within the gulf itself, and a handful of rumors/quest hooks for what is out there in the wilds, so those will likely be covered in a part 2.