Friday, March 16, 2018

Doom of Daggerdale, Scene 3

Project Prospectus
Scene 1. Cruel Welcome in Dagger Falls
Scene 2. A Brief Meeting with the Constable

Scene 3. The Townsfolk Demand Answers

Setup. Amelia and Janson arrive at Randall’s camp
Chaos Factor. 7
Altered? Interrupt! Ambiguous Event — Inform Masses
NPCs. Randall Morn; Eragyn, priestess of Cyric; Colderan the Mage-Lord; Constable Tren; Zhentarim; Dalesfolk; Goblin Raiders; Marlas Dwinkle, curator of the curio shop
Threads. Solve the Trouble of Daggerdale; Get out of Jail

I’m assuming word gets out that Tren has imprisoned a visiting wizard.
Q. Do the townsfolk inquire if she can lift their curse? (50/50) Yes
Q. What is Tren’s response? Worried, Masks, Menacing Shadow

Constable Tren was still in a fit the next day. How the woman had gotten under his skin! The contemptible authoritarian sat at his desk when one of his toothless cronies came in the door with a worried face.

“What is it?!” spat Tren Noemfor impatiently. “Can’t you see I am busy?!”

“My lord,” the man said sheepishly. “You need to come — the townsfolk are demanding answers.”

“What?! I don’t have time for… Oh, just let me see what this foolishness is about!”

Tren got up from his seat and walked outside. Standing outside of the town’s hall stood a multitude of folk, including some of the more noteworthy shopkeepers and even some of the local watch.

“Noemfor!” cried Fendil, the town blacksmith “We have heard you arrested a wizard!”

Tren scanned their faces. Although he was contemptible, he was clever, and a capable speaker. He had to wear many faces to keep order in a town with little enough of it. Clearing his throat, he answered, “Good townsfolk of Dagger Falls, master Fendil speaks truthfully. Last night, a sorceress of no uncertain power tried to assail your good constable without provocation.”

An indignant hrumph resounded somewhere among the gathered. Tren decided to ignore the disdain. “We had no choice but to imprison the attacker. Rest assured, she will be examined by the magistrate and justice will prevail! Your town is safe.”

“That’s not what Fendil was getting at,” shouted another voice. “Maybe this wizard can be made to lift the curse!”

“My sister succumbed to the dream fever last night!” cried another, followed by many others.

Tren held up his hand to stay them. “Peace! Peace! This villain assailed me yesterday by surprise. This wizard is dastardly. A villain, I say! How could you trust one so vile to loosen her sorceries on this already stricken town. She could make such problems worse still!”

This went on for some time, and Tren eventually assuaged their curiosity and concerns, telling them every resource was being spent to find a capable healer or priest who could lift the curse. There were also calls to find Eragyn, the priestess of Cyric that had disappeared. Many shouted their belief that she was behind the debacle and should be hunted.

When at last Tren retired, sweaty and perturbed, a lone figure awaited in his office.

Q. Who is this character? Beetle, Question Mark, Tree

Tren started at the abrupt appearance of a cloaked dark elf. “This woman,” the drow said without preamble. “You were careless to make a spectacle with your mouth. Now the people know and will question the narrative. Do away with her.” The drow’s last statement was hard like a do it or else threat. Tren knew little enough about his messenger contact, but knew enough not to question him. “She must be gone by tomorrow. You do not want to see me again in your office. Make sure it is so.”

The dark elf abruptly vanished without awaiting a reply from the now petrified Tren. When at last he recovered, he made a plan. The sorceress would have to go in the night during the curfew when no one would witness her removal.

Mostly a scene for color and plot building. I think we’re off the rails already.
The Chaos Factor goes up by 1.

I'm clearly off the rails entirely by this point, but I'm looking forward to seeing how Shoshana gets out of this, and how Amelia and Janson meet up with her.

Doom of Daggerdale, scene 2

Scene 2. A Brief Meeting with the Constable

I decided to go with introducing our third protagonist.

Setup. Shoshana begins her investigation, having already arrived in Dagger Falls
Chaos Factor. 6
Altered? Yes (1) — but people are especially uncooperative
NPCs. Randall Morn; Eragyn, priestess of Cyric; Colderan the Mage-Lord; Constable Tren; Zhentarim; Dalesfolk; Goblin Raiders
Threads. Solve the Trouble of Daggerdale

Q. Where exactly does she begin? Tent, Map, Jewel
Q. What about this place draws her here? Fossil, Magnet

Shoshana Ezgrandilia was a stranger to Dagger Falls. Few strangers went unnoticed in the afflicted and depressed township. The sorceress drew even more obvious stares most likely because of her strange otherworldly appearance. Appearing almost elven-blooded (although she was thoroughly human), the white-haired pale practitioner of the Art shot contemptuous looks at those who gawked. Wherever she inquired, the Dalesfolk slammed doors and latched shutters. Being a wizard in a place where a mysterious curse plagued the town did not endear her to the locals.

That’s a compel of the current issue, FEAR AND PLAGUE… Shoshana now has 4 Fate Points.

She sought Marlas Dwinkle, a jewel-smith and curator of various curios who had a small shop in the market. She had researched that he had small finger bones that might aid her in a spell of finding. A powerful mage was laid to rest here in Dagger Falls sometime in its past. She scoffed that such a provincial backwoods trading post might have once been the chosen home of one of wizardly order. She was only a novice spell-caster, albeit possessed of considerable power already — but never would she consider residing in such a contemptuous excuse for a town!

As she approached Marlas’s humble shop, she thought she saw him turn the sign on his door to ”closed”. Nonetheless, she was determined to gain entrance.

Using High Fantasy Magic to handle her abilities, I’m going to do just enough homework to set those. I imagine Shoshana as wielding some fiery blasting magic, and having some divination magic. I’ll give her the Disciplines of Fire and Sight. The associated skills include Lore (default Casting Skill for the Relentless Learner mode permission), Shoot, Provoke, Investigate, and Empathy. I’ll place those in her skill pyramid when the time is appropriate. Will is also extremely important. However, because she has two Disciplines, her Refresh is set at 2.

In light of this, her last compel would bring her to 3 rather than to 4 Fate Points.

Q. Do Constable Tren’s goons pick up Shoshana like in the module? (Very Likely) Yes

These are going to be two Fair (+2) Nameless NPCs with OPPORTUNISTIC SWORD FOR HIRE, Provoke at +2, Fight and Physique at +1, as well as 3 stress each.

Suddenly, two men loomed suddenly behind the enchantress when she was peering through the dark glass of the establishment and rapping on the pane for someone to answer the door. She turned when it suddenly got abnormally shady, finding herself facing two very unwholesome fellows with clubs and knives.

“Stand back, simpletons!” she screamed. “Get you away from me!”

Shoshana attempts to place SHOCKED AT HER MOUTHINESS on the pair. I’m assigning Provoke at Average (+1) rank in her pyramid. She gets a full success.

The two backed away involuntary, having never before encountered such an impetuous and daunting woman. They looked stupidly at one another.

“Someone wants a word with you,” one grumbled.

“If it pleases you, m’lady,” the other added.

With burning bright eyes, Shoshana glared at them. “Who might that be?” she challenged.

“Begging your pardon, m’lady — it’s the Constable. Constable Tren.”

Her face softened somewhat. “Yes! That’s more like it,” she said to herself. “Yes, take me to your governing authority. He must get his lazy townsfolk to work harder! Show me at once!” she said.

The men bowed obediently and led her to an official-looking lodge at the town’s center. There, they escorted her to an office with a sneering man sitting behind a large oaken desk.

Q. Is Tren’s motivation still the same (to hire adventurers to clean out the crypt)? (50/50) Yes

“Thank you, gentlemen,” the man said dismissively. Looking at the mage, he asked, “…And you are?”

Shoshana’s eyes narrowed. “You do not know!? Ah, well, how could you? You are but a simpleton… I am Shoshana Ezgrandilia, apprentice to the mighty Simbul herself, ruler of Aglarond. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?” Her voice dripped with sarcasm and arrogance. “And who are you? By the slouch of your shoulders and the confused stupor of your troglodytic forehead, you must be the clerk. Now be a good man and fetch me someone capable who is in charge of this petty, insignificant town. Off with you…”

Of course, Shoshana realized this worm was the Constable, but she hated being herded, patronized, and made a laughing stock of. Her sharp tongue was not something she could easily control.

Going to natural compel her BRUSQUE AND ARROGANT TO A FAULT (her Trouble). She now has 4 Fate Points.

Q. How does Tren react? Shackles

It was said that Constable Tren’s tirade continued much of the day, spewing obscenities from the window to his office. Shoshana was naturally ushered roughly to Tren’s jail. As she was an enchantress of uncertain power and ability, they made sure to keep her securely shackled and masked to prevent any words of power that might unleash terrible curses.

“Well, I never…!” was the last outrage to fall off her lips. Perhaps this search for the secrets of the mage-lord Colderan would never come to be. As she lay prone and bound, Shoshana remembered some of the Simbul’s admonishment for the frequent unfurling of her unguarded tongue, and thus her mind. The young adept was starting to see the value of that lesson.

Shoshana’s sheet so far:

Shoshana Ezgrandilia

White-haired and pale, Shoshana is a flashy woman in embroidered robes, and a pupil of the Simbul.

High Concept. Adept Learner of the Arcane
Trouble. Brusque and Arrogant To a Fault
Aspects. Seeking the Secrets of a Fallen Wizard

Great. Lore
Average. Provoke

Not much gained here other than learning about our third protagonist and her quirks. It was still fun! But she’ll need some bailing out.

The Chaos Factor goes up by 1. I add “Get out of Jail” to the thread list. Stay tuned for scene 3.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Doom of Daggerdale, scene 1

continued from here. Note, I've made a couple minor changes to the starting characters' peak skills.

Scene 1. Cruel Welcome in Dagger Falls

Normal text  narrative in-character text
Italicized text — oracular and Mythic text

Bold text — Fate related and other meta out-of-character text

Setup. Amelia arrives at the outskirts of Dagger Falls

Chaos Factor. 5

Altered? No

NPCs. Randall Morn; Eragyn, priestess of Cyric; Colderan the Mage-Lord; Constable Tren; Zhentarim; Dalesfolk

Threads. Solve the Trouble of Daggerdale

Q. Who greets Amelia? Wolf, Goblin
Q. What are the special conditions and features? Trap, Lonely, Bridge

Amelia Destaroon was road-weary and dirty from her long travel. The worn dirt track cut across the wooded dale that was crisp with the colder turn of the season. The colors of autumn might have been beautiful had it not been for the bleak emptiness of a forlorn landscape marked by the suffering of an oppressed people. Fields were stricken by blight, and most farmsteads were empty, their families long since seeking fortune elsewhere.

Amelia’s handler had told her to seek out Randall Morn, and through him learn something of the malady that had hit the Zhentarim protectorate. The young Harper bounced along, a singular slight young woman with bouncing black curls under her heavy sodden hood. A short blade hung at her side and a light pack strapped to her shoulders sagged — depleted from the end of a long journey.

Suddenly, howls broke the stillness. Ahead of her was the long ribbon of some watercourse, and far to the north, a bridge crossed. Behind her, four riders — goblins they appeared to be on the backs of massive wolves — cackled with glee and bore down upon the girl. She broke into a sprint to make the bridge with no other clear course. What safety she might find at the bridge, the young woman knew not. But she pressed on in a great panic.

Going to treat this as a contest. I’m assuming the riders have Ride (replaces Drive) at Average (+1). These will be Average (+1) nameless NPCs. I’ll also give them the aspect, MOUNTED ON WARGS with a free invocation.
Turn 1 — I’m giving Amelia a Fair (+2) rank in Athletics. She gets a Good (+3) result. The riders can use teamwork for a total of +4 to the roll. They get a Superb (+5) result for a Victory Point.

Amelia’s lungs burned as she pumped forward, pushing her sore body to its limits. Behind her, she could hear the snarls of the approaching group of raiders as they closed in dangerously behind her.

Turn 2 — Amelia rolls an Average (+1) against the goblins’ Fantastic (+6). They get two more Victory Points to win.

Nearly tripping, the bridge came within view, but snapping jaws of a massive wolf nipped at her as one rider tore past her. She was surrounded.

Q. What’s their immediate motivation? Ghost, Hand

The pack encircled the shaking Harper. Amelia drew her short blade and turned in place, keeping its warding point out to keep them at bay. The cackling goblins cursed and taunted. Each had an axe in hand. Their wicked eyes were filled with mischief and evil delight.

Enter, Janson Morn.

Suddenly, a rustic-looking man with a sword at his side and a bow across his back appeared out of nowhere. He was grim with an unpleasant mien — unwholesome like an outlaw. A full beard lined his scowl and taut muscles hardened his bulky frame and broad shoulders.

“Have you resorted to easy sport now?” he challenged the goblins.

“Who said anything about easy?!” the girl shot back hotly. The man was not prepared for a retort from the girl. However, the riders broke their circle as they sized up the newcomer. The man slid his sword from its scabbard.

“Sorry,” he responded curtly, never taking his eyes off the enemy. “What say you to proving your claim?”

Amelia smiled, and the two launched into action.

Here’s a brief conflict. These are nothing more than GOBLIN PAWNS, each with an Average (+1) rank in Fight and Ride, and no stress boxes. Each has still MOUNTED ON WARGS with a free invoke. I’ll assign ranks in Notice to the PCs to give them priority. Amelia has Fair (+2), and Janson has Average (+1).
Amelia goes first, feigning an opening, and getting a Superb (+5) against their Poor (-1). This places LULLED INTO A SENSE OF SUPERIORITY with 2 free invokes.
Amelia’s two opponents attack, getting a +0 (Fight) against her +2 (Athletics). However, the goblins spend both of their free invokes, plus 1 GM Fate Point to up their result to Fantastic (+6). Amelia has no rank in Physique, and fills her 2-stress box and spends one of her two invokes to increase her Defend to Great (+4). The GM has 1 Fate Point remaining.

Two riders turned on the slight traveler as she bounded forward unexpectedly. However, coming face to face with the attackers’ snarling, snapping wolf mounts, she blanched and fell back. The two saw their opening against the seemingly overwhelmed girl and launched a series of wild hacks. Amelia rolled underneath, nearly getting trampled.

Janson goes next, attempting to overcome the riders’ MOUNTED ON WARGS advantages with his Physique. He gets a Superb (+5) against their Fair (+2). They spend both free invokes to get a Fantastic (+6) result, keeping their aspects in play.
They attack next, getting an Average (+0) result. Janson will have Fight at Good (+3), and gets a Great (+4) result, gaining a boost.

The remaining two positioned themselves as a bulwark against the taller foe, forming a line. The man strode forward unperturbed and yanked at the beasts’ reins with his offhand, nearly tearing out their tack and dumping their stupefied riders. The goblins somehow managed to break the hold and recover, hacking away wildly. The man easily deflected their hasty blows, leaving them momentarily off kilter on their unruly steeds.

From this point forward, I’ll summarize rolls briefer.
Amelia has Fight at Fair (+2). She attacks, but they get 4 shifts on their Defend.
She uses her last free invoke to re-roll doing only 1 better.
She declares a new stunt, Dirty Tricks. Gain +2 to attack with Fight the first time you’ve deceived an opponent into thinking they have the better position in combat. That gives her 2 more, and a Fate Point on LULLED gives her 1 shift, taking out one rider. She has 2 Fate Points remaining.
The remaining rider attacks, missing. Amelia gets a boost.

Amelia came up the opposite side of the riders. Her fearful look was now a mask bearing a fierce smile, letting the goblins know she wasn’t at all dismayed or backing down. One tried to back away when it realized the ruse, but it was too late. One dead goblin rolled off its wolf, hanging by one foot from the stirrups and sending the wolf off in a craze. The other rider hastily swung, but abruptly aborted the poor attack in favor of hanging on.

Janson attacks, taking out both.

The woodman had the advantage he needed and quickly slew his foes with powerful slices and deft thrusts. Bloody heaps lay at his feet.

The remaining goblin concedes. The heroes ultimately want him not to warn others. He surrenders, convincing them that he won’t — at least for now.

Amelia rounded his opponent ready to end his life. The goblin squeaked, tossing away its axe in surrender. After promising he wouldn’t tell anyone of the encounter, they two let the goblin go after slaying its mount. The goblin fled for the hills.

After watching him go and hiding the bodies in a ravine bed off the main way, the man returned to Amelia. “You’re not too bad with your blade, girl,” he noted.

“Better than you with your tongue!” she responded. “But thank you. You couldn’t have shown up at a better time.”

“Morn,” he introduced with an extended leathery hand.

“Randall Morn?” Amelia questioned.

“Janson — his cousin,” he corrected.

Amelia revealed her purpose to meet Lord Morn and to discover the source of Daggerdale’s current predicament. Janson listened to her, nodding all the while. “I won’t lie. My cousin would be most happy for your help — but if you think you can stop a plague, oust the Zhents and reverse the curse that spells Daggerdale’s doom, you’re chasing a dream.”

Amelia looked hard at the man. “Nonetheless, I’d be more in your debt if you’d arrange for a meeting, all foolishness aside.”

Janson gave her a look. “He doesn’t accept strangers on a whim,” he pronounced at last.

“Solving Daggerdale’s problems is hardly a whim, I’d say.”

At last, the Harper won out. Janson nodded in final ascent.

Q. Is Constable Tren known for paying inhuman raiders to harass and rob travelers? (Somewhat Likely) Exceptional No

When they began toward Randall’s current camp of rebels, Amelia asked about the goblins. Janson merely shrugged his big shoulders. “I couldn’t tell you. Even Constable Tren would never consider paying goblins to harass travelers or Dalesfolk. But even he’s not so high and mighty. He ultimately answers to Zhentil Keep. And I could see them behind something like this.”

After running this scene, I’m updating the two characters involved:

Amelia Destaroon

A slight dark-haired beauty with a penchant for intrigue and deception.

High Concept. Beautiful Cat-Burglar
Trouble. Web of Lies
Aspects. Novice Harper Agent

Great. Deceive
Fair. Athletics, Fight

Dirty Tricks. Gain +2 to attack with Fight the first time you’ve deceived an opponent into thinking they have the better position in combat.

Janson Morn

A cousin of Lord Randall, Janson is a roguish outlaw ready at any time to let fists fly at the usurpers of his native land.

High Concept. Fighting Rogue on the Run
Trouble. Poor Impulse Control
Aspects. Brawny Cousin of Lord Morn

Great. Physique

Good. Fight
Average. Notice

Stress. 4 physical

I’ll continue filling them in as I go. Also note that the GM’s Fate Point pool goes up by 1 for the next scene due to the concession.

The Chaos Factor goes up by 1.

Already from the get-go, I'm kind of off the rails due to the “random” encounter I generated through Story Cubes. We’ll see where this leads. I still have to introduce the next character. I’m wondering if I’ll introduce her someone completely different, or in the next scene, assuming Amelia and Janson succeed in meeting up with Randall Morn. If I introduce her somewhere else, I may see if two directions eventually link up later.

I’ll ponder. Until next time…

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Doom of Daggerdale


a Solo-a-Module Month project

Project Prospectus

Solo a Module a Month was just announced on the Lonewolf Solo G+ community. What to do? I don’t have a huge repository of modules, but I have some. I’ve been thinking about Wolfgang Bauer’s Doom of Daggerdale, which is an old one I’ve had that I know pretty well. It also fits a setting that know well, so that helps.

Two questions to answer:
  • How does one play a module solo?
  • What tools/gizmos/rules will I use to attempt this?
The first one I’ll answer loosely. I certainly don’t see tremendous fun in running something I know already. So, instead, using the module’s description and synopsis, I’ll strip the scenario for its elements. I vaguely remember its NPCs, creatures, sites, and motivations. Most of all, the scenario provides a hook and an inciting event. Using the people and places involved and its inciting event, I will use these to set the scene and allow the whole thing to go off the rails. Whenever a plot or motivation or action presents itself from the text of the module, this gives me an opportunity to ask, is this actually true?

It’s totally plausible that this will be come un utterly unrecognizable adventure. In fact, that’s the area about this endeavor that most intrigues me. Having a basic starting scenario is also a big help, because I often have trouble thinking of intriguing or compelling starts to new solo projects. So, there it is. Also, rather than spend time pouring through the module in detail, I’ll rely mostly on the description on the back cover and a few notes I’ll make in advance:
Randal Morn certainly has his hands full! The temple of Lathander, which burned to the ground eight years ago, seems to be the source of a curse affecting the entire town. People are taking ill, animals are dying overnight, crops are failing. All this seems to have started after Eragyn, priestess of Cyric, disappeared from Daggerdale. Shortly before that, a forgotten mage-lord’s crypt was discovered and opened; things just haven’t been the same since. 
Constable Tren is displeased with the situation, what with suspicion being cast in the Zhentarim’s direction as well as toward Cyric’s priesthood. He’s undoubtedly making the Dalesfolk’s lives more difficult than usual because of this upheaval. Randal has sent out the call for aid to all who are interested and able to help; his freedom riders have their hands full already. 
A missing evil priestess, a mage-lord’s crypt-curse, a plague, and possible Zhentarim involvement: all the elements of a rousing adventure in one place! Where do your characters sign up? Step right this way, won’t you?
A few notes from the top of my head:
  • Colderan the mage-lord has risen from the dead and is pulling the strings behind the scenes
  • A dream-curse is affecting the Dalesfolk
  • An ancient dwarf fastness of a clan that were bitter enemies of Colderan contains a secret weapon to defeat the mage-lord
  • The action takes place in Dagger Falls, a Zhentarim Protectorate in the Dales
  • Randall Morn is the rightful ruler in exile, who lives in the countryside with his rebels
  • I also like the cover of the printed module — it’s moody and might bring some inspiration
None of these are sacrosanct — in fact, I’m expecting a good bit of throwing it all out, and significant points of departure.

Now, for the how, here’s what I’m leaning towards: Mythic GM Emulator to help set scenes. This will provide some amendment to the things that will happen. Using Mythic, I’ll limit the use of the emulator for setting scenes to provide randomness to the setup, and a special treatment towards Fate Questions — questions will center around whether or not particular concepts, conceits, and motivations as presented in the module are true or false. For all else, my preferred method of gleaning details comes from rolling nine Rory’s Story Cubes and answering who, what, when, where, why, and how to color and detail scenes accordingly. I find this latter method faster, and don’t enjoy slowing down to check the Fate Chart.

For my actual game system, I’m toying between my two favs: Fate Core or Barbarians of Lemuria. Both have a good deal of generic power that can quickly mold to D&D tropes. I’ve always been enamored of Nessalantha’s wonderful play report of Dragonlands, a wonderful Legends of Anglerre (setting using a previous iteration of Fate when it was still FATE) actual play. One of the many wonderful things about the report is how she generates NPCs on the fly by deducing what’s needed (skill rank, aspect, etc), keeping it spontaneous and lite. The report, even after several years, has served as a shining example of Fate in a solo environment.

I also love BoL — so quick and easy to stat anything, which is very much appealing.
However, I’m going to take a leap and use Fate Core, adding Nathan Hare’s High Fantasy Magic for those sorts of elements. I’m also going with the Quick Character Creation method in Core to get right to the action. I’m seeing that two issues of the game include Plague and Fear in a Border Town Under an Evil Regime (Current), and An Ancient Evil Awakes (Impeding).

Quickly, I’ll come up with three PCs that I’ll introduce one at a time in my first session to hook them to the scenario:

Amelia Destaroon
A slight dark-haired beauty with a penchant for intrigue and deception.

High Concept. Beautiful Cat-Burglar
Trouble. Web of Lies
Aspects. Novice Harper Agent
Peak Skill. Deceive

Janson Morn
A cousin of Lord Randall, Janson is a roguish outlaw ready at any time to let fists fly at the usurpers of his native land.

High Concept. Fighting Rogue on the Run
Trouble. Poor Impulse Control
Aspects. Brawny Cousin of Lord Morn
Peak Skill. Burglary

Shoshana Ezgrandilia
White-haired and pale, Shoshana is a flashy woman in embroidered robes, and a pupil of the Simbul.

High Concept. Adept Learner of the Arcane
Trouble. Brusque and Arrogant To a Fault
Aspects. Seeking the Secrets of a Fallen Wizard
Peak Skill. Lore

Hopefully, I’ll have the tenacity to see this through at least to some degree.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Myths of Lemuria, part 1

An actual play journal of a Barbarians of Lemuria (Mythic Edition).

Tonight, I ran a short (2-hour) session of BoL for three great players, and it was a total blast. Set up as an impromptu one-shot that was postponed, four of us met for the first time. The initial idea was to play a quick game without too much forethought about theme and background anchors. Barbarians of Lemuria is particularly well-suited for this. With a starting location and a vague idea of an initial hook, and that’s all that’s needed.

Four of us on the East Coast, Midwest and Pacific Northwest met on hangouts a ran with it. Our heroes included a former pirate/dancer/assassin who wielded twin rapiers and carried a bow named Garde, a mighty-thewed northerner named Brom with a broadsword, and another former pirate/thief/mercenary/gladiator named Agroc. Garde and Agroc shared a similar background that included a vengeful Satarlan duke who scoured the face of Lemuria in search of both.

The action was set in Urceb, “the Forgotten City” on the windswept eastern Lemurian coast. There, further removed from other centers of civilization, the three adventurers found themselves searching the undercity for forgotten treasures like many others attracted to the remote locale. A thriving market existed from the selling of trinkets and treasures filched from forgotten warrens underground. Likewise, unscrupulous merchants sold dubious maps to treasure hunters for exorbitant prices.

Our heroes had one such map…a poor copy of some other one marked on a canvas. The adventure began in the remote tunnels further from the center of the undercity. Their map had led them true so far. They encountered none other in this part and found portents that their path had not been taken by anyone within recent history. They found an infestation of uzegs but kept true to the map.

Image thanks to
The three found a dead-end that was marked as a continuous passage. The mighty Brom tore asunder a brick and mortar wall erected in some unknown point in the past. They found themselves in a forgotten crypt. Immediately, they found an onyx idol of strange fashion and several handfuls of ancient coins among the niches of interred corpses.

However, a pair of scorpiders attacked! Quickly, the three defeated their foes. After collecting their newfound wealth and encouraged by the find, they continued into the crypt. Their way became increasingly labyrinthine and bore signs of ancient construction. They passed through an undisturbed temple until a sudden and uncanny gust blew out their torch.

Agroc quickly lit a new one. However, during the tense darkness and silence (broken only by Brom’s curse), Agroc felt a strange sense of vertigo. The others noticed nothing. When the flame returned, they found themselves somewhere entirely different — upon an island of stone. Two spans crossed a mysterious fluid channel surrounding the table of stone. At the end of one span the three faced an unsettling robed figure with concealed features.

Agroc asked the figure who he was. The figure answered in a hissing voice tinted by an ancient accent. “Are you the ones for whom I have been waiting?”

Agroc replied to the negative. Garde, who had his bow ready, asked if the figure could show them out. The figure replied, “Unfortunately, you may not leave.”

Brom, who had no love of sorcery, charged the foe and nearly cut the villain in two. The emaciated figure turned to run, but Garde ran him through with a well-aimed arrow from his bow. Agroc checked the body and found the shriveled and disturbing visage of a bloodless sorcerer. Was this one of the fabled sorcerer-kings?

Suddenly, animated bloodless corpses came out of the woodwork and closed in on the three. The heroes carved a path through the swath of minions toward the direction for which the undead sorcerer was intending to make. There they ascended a stair. That stair turned out to be a dais bearing an open sarcophagus. There was nowhere to run…with a landing behind the sarcophagus ending in bare wall. Trapped!

Dozens of walking skeletons assailed them. Brom launched the immense stone lid of the sarcophagus, taking out numerous minions, while Garde slew two more with his bow. Agroc searched the back wall and with great success (boxcars!) found a secret entrance. The three escaped to find…
Image thanks to
A trove of mythic wealth!

There were idols, golden-chased bracelets, crystal-studded jewelry, coins of ancient mintage…far more than the trio could hope to carry away. However, they were trapped in a treasure vault with a limited supply of air. With great care, they picked up their choice items. Garde retrieved a beautiful jade statuette similar to the onyx one they found at the beginning of the crypt. Brom saw a larger idol on a pedestal. Putting his mighty hand to it, he discovered the piece to swivel, activating another hidden door in the back of the vault.

The heroes exited, finding themselves in the grassy plains outside of Urceb. However, their adventure did not end here!

With the great hidden door of the vault sealed behind them, they carried what they could back to the city. Immediately, they gained the attention of its curious and grasping folk. They were bombarded by questions. All were careful not to reveal the location of their find. Brom first unloaded his onyx statue, but failed to see the interested onlookers during the dealmaking with a local merchant. He was followed back to the Wistful Wench where the three spent their ill-begotten gains. Agroc also bought a sloop with his money so that they could scour the coast. The rest they drank away and wenched.

However, several malicious figures entered the establishment. Agroc saw them and warned Garde. Brom was oblivious due to enjoying the sumptuous bounty of pleasures. The thugs were ordered to attack the barbarian. The three heroes were quicker to react. Brom tossed a table into their midst, taking out nine, while Garde shot a tenth. The leader fled.

Of course our heroes would give chase! Through the crowded streets, Garde took the lead and tumbled overhead and onto the back of the fleeing villain. The robed figure got up and drew a blade. Garde drew his rapiers and prepared to meet him in battle. However, the villain reached for a bag at his hip and tossed a fragrant powder at the assassin. Garde fell into a slumbering heap when the dream lotus pollen hit his nose. Brom and Agroc lost the fleeing man, but retrieved his pouch, which was marked by the sign of Hadron.

They had gained the interest of the Black Druids! Fun was had, and the four of us look forward to the next opportunity to resume this saga. With any luck, I’ll continue to chronicle the adventures here.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Untold: Adventures Await Solo AP

Untold: Adventures Await

What follows is a play-through of the Creativity Hub’s new Untold: Adventures Await story game powered by Rory’s Story Cubes. Designed by John Fiore (no stranger to the solo gamesphere) and Rory O’Connor, inventor of his now-famous Rory’s Story Cubes.

Not much is going to accompany this post...the photos pretty much tell the whole story. These are notes basically exactly as I made them during play. I’ll only conclude that Untold is a format for which I’ve been looking for some time: concise episodic gaming (it clocked in at almost exactly ONE hour, as it says on the box), keeps things concise, and is physical in nature. You’ll see I wrote down answers to my questions and one-sentence summaries of all the actions. This is not necessary, but it’s not overly burdensome to do so. I think it’s helpful to do so as a solo endeavor.

The story board layout does a great job through the use of story cube icons to keep visual reminders of the action so far. The tactile layout of the game, with its recessed spaces for modular scenes, is a joy to look at and play. The allotment of actions and questions keeps things moving and makes prompts for building the story clear.

I can’t say I’ve definitively kicked all the tires. I want to see what it does to a continuing story line, so maybe I’ll continue Visconda’s adventures. If you haven’t yet checked out or were not aware of Untold, grab a copy for yourself. For 1-4 players (that’s right, it can be played solo!).