Saturday, 17 June 2017

Retrospective 14 - A New Age

The time since the time skip has been one hell of a rollercoaster ride!

Dragons! Dungeons! Disease! Deadly PC-on-PC violence! Darkest betrayal!
And there, right at the end, real actual Heroism.

The pre-TPK party could be characterised as a bunch of roguish sometimes-villainous but always tight-knit group of mercenary opportunists.
Delusions of grandeur, sure, but at the core this was a group of players who always worked together to get treasure and, more often than not, get out of the dungeon.

Thirteen sessions on from the post-TPK timeskip and we've got some real drama happening.
Maybe it's because it's a solid group now rather than an open table? Maybe it's due to retroactive backstory? Maybe people are just more comfortable playing in character after they've become comfortable playing the game?
Whatever it is, it's happening and it's real real cool.

Andromeda's mother was Lulu, Ollie's previous character, whose friends had all been killed by the Dead

We've had a bunch of big moments and big revelations in the last ten sessions, but by far the biggest both in and out of game was the Arena Attack.

One of the party's characters, Andromeda Spiderbite played by Ollie who's our longest-running player, betrayed the rest of the party in the most spectacular and gut-wrenching way possible.
It's something we'd never seen before. Betrayal of the party as a whole. And this on the heels of the game's first intentional PC-on-PC murder.
And worse, they blew up a stadium literally a week after the real world Manchester Attack, albeit their plan had been in place a week or so before that happened. This a followup to the previous attack which had horrifying echoes of Hillsborough.
Real dark. Still not sure how I should feel about that.

But it was totally justified in-character, and Andromeda has gone off to be a semi-NPC villain. A whole character arc of its own.
It'll be great to see where that goes. And she's committed some real abominable crimes for a cause she truly believes in. The best villains are fallen friends, right?

Story arcs and character arcs, naturally formed.
Is anybody taking the helm? Is there an authorial stance at play? It seems the sort of thing you'd ruin if you tried to stick a label on it.
On one hand, I've got a whole lot of world swirling around in the ol' noggin.
On the other hand, we've got a well-used facebook chat (actually more than one) where players are making plans and speculating and asking questions of me and each other.
Since I often know what they want to do next (via the chat, or Andromeda's character emailing me her further plans) I can pour content in that direction. Does that mean they're passively creating a situation that will allow them to form the story that they want to tell?

It's all very hazy and speculative and interesting. And from this strange protean game-muck a whole story just comes into being. Belonging to nobody, and everybody, at the table.

Some character arcs we've witnessed in the last ten sessions:
Rake Hacker goes from lowly toilet humour comic relief to saviour and steward of a whole frontier fortress-town.
Andromeda Spiderbite goes from estranged Barbarian daughter to Hillsborough Disaster re-enactor to a terrorist killer of hundreds.
Captain Book went from amusingly amoral psychopath to horrifyingly amoral mould-drug-infested psychopath that needed to be put down.

And that's not to mention all the others! POWERLAD's growth from aspiring teenage hero to married dragon-summoning superman.
Nix Neckbiter's growth from fairly generic Barbarian to doting mother of a baby basilisk.
Mairead's flanderised descent from grizzled ex-cop to doddering old woman to accidental hero.
And many more!

A heroic reading of Mairead's death smashing into an evil egg


A one-page dungeon from the ancient age of 2010. Really good!
The only real change I made other than reskinning a few things was to make the players not get locked in the cellar. They've had a long history of getting stuck in dungeons. It's too much.
If they get trapped in a dungeon I want it to be their decision, you know?
Of course John Jentilman told them that he wanted to the players to "deal with the rat problem in the cellar" which made everyone go "FINALLY A RATS IN THE CELLAR QUEST!!"
It's taken a TPK and a timeskip for the players to see a Dragon and do a Rat Cellar quest so maybe I've been holding out on them.
So yea, this is a real good dungeon. I particularly like that the trail on the floor meant that the players could set a trap for the poor Gulo aka Giant Rat Monster. Fun stuff!

Moondine Forest South
Classic horn-tooting. I basically drew up a little map of the local area (on grid not hex, blasphemy) and it worked out great. Lots of hostile bullshit in the southern woods, and as ever the random results ended up telling a better story than I could have.
Luckily they met a mould-hunter Necromancer fairly quickly (who gave them the secret to the anti-Mould gasmasks) and also faced these horrible leaping brain-sucking deer mutants that the players think are demons. They might be right.

Nearly got the players to investigate the Barrows but alas, they had bigger fish to fry.
The town of Helix, however, got a bit of exploring. Best character is plainly the weirdo Jafar-esque wizard in the tower. On reflection, I'm not sure how much of that was in the book and how much was me waffling.

They're going back! So I won't spoil anything.
A module that fit perfectly into my game, since there's a giant tentacle of Shub-Niggurath straight up attempting to rip the world to shreds from within.
This is the first time I attempted a new policy of doubling enemy numbers and treasure values. I've been running for a big group for a long time and somehow never considered this easy hack.
Additions include a great big tentacle coming out of the hole, and the lowest level having some visitors from the Veins of the Earth down there oOOOoOooo

After the Arena Disaster and amongst the chaos I made a thing where I split the city into Zones and defined a bunch of problems that players may or may not be able to solve.
I'll post about it soon! It went great!

Mould Cathedral
Justifying my feeling that anything I ever make for my game will come in useful some day, this big old mould cathedral I made years ago is back in use!
Players from long long ago went there in three different sessions back in 2015. Still useful content! Hurrah!
This time around the cathedral proper is packed with piles of mould-encased bodies eternally snuggled into each other. Such a wonderful life without end.

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