Midgardcon 2022

The con as a whole felt a lot nicer now that I knew some people by name or face and had even played with some. I got to meet new folk and some previous acquitances, too. I played in a Tjuvradd playtest and Fabula, and ran Burning wheel and Coup under Maure.

Tjuvradd

A game by Karl Otto Kristoffsen with formal boardgame elements centred around outlaws who do stuff in the night, while the suffers during the day. Under playtesting and with mechanical and thematic issues, so I will not comment much.

The key question seems to be: what role should free play and the boardgamey half have, and how to integrate those in a meaningful manner?

Fabula

Tomas H.V. Mørkrid is publishing the second edition of the game, much darker and more adult than the first edition. The method of the game is special:

  • High identification between player and character, also on level of body language and manner of speaking; if you want to should, at least pretend shouting, and if your viking is rowing, do rowing motions, and if you are asked what you do and you hesitate, so does your character
  • Scenes set by players and the game master: sometimes the game master asks the players to set scenes with a certain framework, while sometimes the game master sets scenes themselves, and sometimes these are mixed up. We always had one scene framed per player in these cases, maybe between GM-framed scenes.
  • The scenes are cut ruthlessly short to keep the pace up.
  • Player skill in making good decisions counts a lot for character success and survival, though sometimes the scene setting makes it impossible to do the things one would have wanted to do.
  • The strong identification and player skill association tends to lead to feelings that you are playing yourself in that role or that the character’s success is yours and there was assumptions of the same and at least playful encouragement to this direction by the game master.
  • Tomas seems to associate good roleplaying with getting into character and being sufficiently on the same wavelength to have long scenes of talking, but also with having your character survive and thrive (make good decisions).

Burning wheel

I run a brennandi viking one-shot at Midgardcon yesterday. The characters had some blood opera potential and some inner conflicts. Four players; the two elder ones took to it like fish in the water and noticed and played the inner conflicts, too. One of the younger ones bounced off hard, the other was involved but it hard to say. The younger ones chose to or had to leave midways, after which the game really gathered speed.

Conclusion: these kinds of introspective characters with inner conflicts are risky in con play.

On the other hand, just straightforward blood opera is kinda boring and meaningless to me now; that I can do with any game, while BW has an edge in communicating inner conflicts to players via BITs and also a plethore of social skills to make the situations nuanced in that way.

Coup under Maure castle

Four players, one with good knowledge of OSR, three new to the method of play. The first was mostly fairly careful and kept themselves to the rear, and in the end managed to escape with some 100 gp worth treasure, too.

The group first provoked some skeletons, handily defeated half of them, but then the skeletons had a series of critical hits and good rolls, from which only one character managed to escape. The fight was entirely voluntary and was more of a learning experience than anything well thought-out, but though the group had initiative and could have escaped, they chose to fight instead. There was no treasure in sight either.

The second expedition with mostly new characters was more measured; the group managed to avoid obvious dangers and fights, found out things about the adventure location, and then provoked a group of koukos, baboon-like creatures of evil with special powers. they escaped, but started planning at a distance of a couple of rooms. Slam door shut, escape again to leave non-hostile dungeons denizens between them and the foes. These are easily routed by the koukos, at which point the group, now strengthened by armed hirelings, makes their stand (though they could have escaped again). It does not end well, and one wizard manages a mishap with shroomy consequences, leading to a TPK of the remaining characters. One turns into a kouko, but does not manage to keep any shred of their identity.

The players had stared at the map and figured out a likely hidden room, but did not know how to get in. Too bad the koukos got them at this point; their play had been pretty good before this last episode.

Midgardcon 2022

Theory review #78

  • Raiding the last frontier by Timm Woods discusses first situated learning and the various potential and actual benefits of using roleplaying games for language learning, ending with naming a few games. An article in the book The role-playing society.
  • The ethical generation of AI art by Levi Kornelsen looks at the effect on artists and on matters of attribution and copyright. https://levikornelsen.blogspot.com/2022/09/the-ethical-generation-of-ai-art.html
  • ”Do you want to be Dr. Frankenstein or Edna Polletier?” by Jonathan M. Bradley gives a concrete example and discusses the possibilities of using roleplaying in teaching how to interpret literacy. An article in the book The role-playing society.
  • Playing between the lines by Reneta D. Lansiquot, Candido Cabo and Tamrah D. Cunningham documents developing a Japanese-style computer roleplaying game, and has some references to learning in there, too. An article in the book The role-playing society.
  • Playing for change by Troy Leaman looks at the commercial game Freemarket as an aware serious game concerned with alternatives to the capitalistic modern society and discusses procedural rhetoric, novum and artistic and persuasive serious games. An article in the book The role-playing society.
  • Analysis of the player experience across digital and physical worlds by Giacomo Lauritano analyzes interview of Magic: the gathering players to find differences between physical and digital experiences, especially in terms of flow or lack thereof. https://analoggamestudies.org/2022/09/analysis-of-the-player-experience-across-digital-and-physical-worlds/
  • Leveling influence by Joseph B. Meyer discusses how level shows itself in the contemporary society and also discusses Klout, a now-defunct website that rated people’s influence on social networks. An article in the book The role-playing society.
Theory review #78

Character stable #36

The most recently played characters are listed first, aside from the graveyard, where the highest wargamey experience gets priority place.

Characters in Coup de Greyhawk, in the world of Greyhawk

  • Ælfstan, a psionic monk who lives in poverty and has opinions about organized religions. In Gnarley woods in Greyhawk. Level 4, wargamish experience 7234, modern D&D experience +1156 and average attribute +1, wargamish average attribute 13.
  • Gotdorfd, a very unfortunate pickpocket who was caught and pressed into service as a dungeon guide in Great kingdom, in the world of Greyhawk. Currently adventuring in Gnarley woods. Level 3, experience 3775, average attribute 10.
  • Jussi Puska, a ranger who can not fight with two weapons, adventuring in Gnarley forest in Greyhawk. Level 1, average attribute 13, experience 1308.
  • Jarque, a Maldorean knight out on an adventure in Maure castle, in Flanaess. Level 1, experience 415, average attribute 11.
  • Guinevere, the current queen of Camelot, but now adventuring in Greyhawk. Average attribute 12, level 1, wargamey experience 159, miscellaneous experience 240.
  • A dungeon badger in the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk. Hit dice 2, average attribute 11.

Tournament of fear survivors

These characters are technically in Coup de Greyhawk, but I would not mind playing one of them in another campaign, either.

  • Geoff, a noble from Ammeni, out in the world to have fun and make trade agreements. Level 1, experience 25, average attribute 10.
  • Melville, a poor Parisian master clerk. Level 3, experience 315, average attribute 10.
  • Jack Stone, a mage who used to rule the streets of a modern city, now transported by paradox into this fantasy land. Level 1, experience 10, average attribute 11.
  • Duran-Dûn, a dwarfish mine foreman out to gather an army and take back his position and home. Hit dice 2, average attribute 16.
  • Ostrot, an extraplanar rat-monster with a terrible bite. Hit die 2, average attribute 12.
  • Seela, a praedor against her will. Level 1, experience 0, average attribute 11.

Characters in Rajamaat 2, in Wilderlands of high fantasy

  • Kaumil, a wood elven archer adventuring in Wilderlands of high fantasy, near Modron. Level 2, average attribute 13, modern D&D experience 1000, cheap wargamey experience 3151.
  • Senja, a mercenary who would rather not kill; currently seeking initiation with Mitra. Adventuring in Wilderlands of high fantasy, near Modron and a keep on the borderlands. Level 5, total experience 16866, average attribute 11. Wargamey experience 1656, cheap wargamey experience 13428, miscellaneous experience 1782.

Characters in the Tunnels and trolls game of Manu

  • Hayoshiko Egoshi, a samurai adventurer. Level 1, adventure points 713, average attribute 10.
  • Daralr, an Orlanthi shaman from Glorantha. Level 1, adventure points 476, average attribute 13.

Free characters

  • Jorma, a mouse ranger, robbed a bank in a big oak.
  • Rufus Hale, an enforcer.
  • Zeilee with alias «Tsai», a mechanic and space wreck looter. Level 1, experience 10, average attribute 11. Escaped from a creepy collapsing spaceship with some loot and a military general from fifteen years ago.
  • Bonicalcus, a drug-addicted underground alchemist and healer under a fantasy metropolis. Average attribute 11, highest skill value 64 %
  • athes, a cruel pseudo-mongol mounted archer. From Barren lands in Greyhawk and adventuring in Theranos. Level 5, average attribute 11. Wargamish experience 145, modern D&D experience 6070.
  • Lambros, a stoneman and a newly initiated thief. Strides 3, average attribute one dot.
  • Vasana, a heavy cavalrywoman of the Ernaldori clan of the Colymar Tribe, in Glorantha. Average attribute 14, highest skills and affinities 90 %.
  • Torgun Sigurddottir, a skjoldmøy from a shattered Norden, adventured last near Saxon. Level 2, adventure points 229, average attribute 10.
  • Melaku, a godbound in the village of Waja, in Ancalja. Level 1, average attribute 15, experience 2, spent influence 0.
  • Sølv, a human leader who owns a great farm, last seen in Saxon. First level, 73 adventure points, average attribute 13.
  • Shahu, a human merchant (or maybe a naga wizard) working for the glory of his trade company (or maybe nest). Currently active near Saxon. Level 1, personal adds -1, total adventure points 358.
  • Pönk, level 4 wolf troll warrior in the empire of Khazan, near Saxon. Personal adds 41, total adventure points 624.
  • An orcish archer, rampaging through dwarven mines.
  • A human adventurer who is quite certain they are born in a wrong body, being actually an elf. Cursed to burn eternally, suffering from terrible pain, but surviving regardless.
  • A swashbuckler buckling the swashes in northern Golarion. Level 1, average attribute 12.
  • Imhotep, a mummy masquerading as a historian in the modern Paris, though still wishing for the good old times to come back.
  • A teenage nerd mage, quite good with telekinesis.
  • Torakka, a superhero with the powers and inclinations of a cockroach.
  • A paladin, doing paladiny things in some fantasy world. Level 1, average attribute 12, experience 3.
  • A barbarian, strong and not very social. Level 1, average attribute 13.
  • An elf, level 1, experience 100, last seen adventuring in castle Caldwell.
  • A stalker who faced spooky outlines of people in the zone.
  • A young priest and praedor in Jaconia.
  • A noble of light in the Star wars very extended universe.
  • A student of statistics that has heard of the first signs of a coming zombie apocalypse.
  • A bear using a big log as a weapon. Level two, experience 135, average attribute +2.
  • A commando on a task in a near future banana republic in Middle or South America.
  • A mercenary minotaur illusionist, using walls of silence and darkness to obscure his position, while using grenades and a machine gun to deal with his enemies.
  • A doppelgänger, hit die 1, average attribute 14.

Graveyard

  • Fridswid, a young witch whom the oracle of Zagyg killed with a death spell, while she was hoping to release the oracle. Level 2, wargamey experience 1945, miscellaneous experience 1020.
  • Blarg, forest troll warrior died in the empire of Khazan, near Saxon, killed while simultaneously killing a horrid necrolyte and saving the village. Level 2, adventure points 1560.
  • Pöö, a warrior in the empire of Khazan, died in the blood feud of Saxon. Level 1, adventure points 1483.
  • Garkromm, a savage entertainer from Abbor-Alz in Greyhawk, died in the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk, eaten by a fire beetle. Level 1, experience 268.
  • Rodaria, a seamstress from the city of Greyhawk, died in the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk, pierced by two spears to their gut, one ripped out by a (friendly?) barbarian. Level 1, experience 209.
  • Ottar, a chieftain from Sogndal, perished in Buffalo castle. Level 1, adventure points 127.
  • Atticus, an exiled Roman senator, killed by a giant spider in an elven slave torture dungeon. Level 1, adventure points 84.
  • Mitlar, a human warrior who was slain by killer bees in Buffalo castle while also killing them. Level 2, adventure points 62.
  • Wohoo the gargoyle warrior, level 1, killed by an orc at the exit of Buffalo castle in Khazan Empire. 42 adventure points.
  • Möö the urook warrior, level 1, died in a pit in Buffalo castle, killed by an orc. Empire of Khazan in Trollworld. 5 adventure points.
  • Ranrance, a first level thief of small stature, mauled by a magical owlbear statue in Greyhawk. Level 1, experience 0.
  • A character killed by an animate mushroom, while trying to climb up from a cave. Level 1, experience 0.
  • A first level thief, died by lizardfolk or fishfolk in some abandoned mine dungeon. Level 1, experience 0.
  • Lone wolf, a kai aspirant, who was killed by a helghast while seeking Sommerswerd.
  • A coast guard that died when a Great old one destroyed the ghost ship they were investigating.
  • An advanced robot that did not manage to convince the judges that it had learnt what humanity is.

Character stable #36

Theory review #75

Theory review #75

Character stable #35

The most recently played characters are listed first, aside from the graveyard, where the highest wargamey experience gets priority place.

Characters in Coup de Greyhawk, in the world of Greyhawk

  • Gotdorfd, a very unfortunate pickpocket who was caught and pressed into service as a dungeon guide in Great kingdom, in the world of Greyhawk. Currently adventuring in Gnarley woods. Level 3, experience 3775, average attribute 10.
  • Jarque, a Maldorean knight out on an adventure in Maure castle, in Flanaess. Level 1, experience 415, average attribute 11.
  • Jussi Puska, a ranger who can not fight with two weapons, adventuring in Gnarley forest in Greyhawk. Level 1, average attribute 13, experience 1308.
  • Ælfstan, a psionic monk who lives in poverty and has opinions about organized religions. In Gnarley woods in Greyhawk. Level 4, wargamish experience 7234, modern D&D experience +1156 and average attribute +1, wargamish average attribute 13.
  • Guinevere, the current queen of Camelot, but now adventuring in Greyhawk. Average attribute 12, level 1, wargamey experience 159, miscellaneous experience 240.
  • A dungeon badger in the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk. Hit dice 2, average attribute 11.

Tournament of fear survivors

These characters are technically in Coup de Greyhawk, but I would not mind playing one of them in another campaign, either.

  • Geoff, a noble from Ammeni, out in the world to have fun and make trade agreements. Level 1, experience 25, average attribute 10.
  • Melville, a poor Parisian master clerk. Level 3, experience 315, average attribute 10.
  • Jack Stone, a mage who used to rule the streets of a modern city, now transported by paradox into this fantasy land. Level 1, experience 10, average attribute 11.
  • Duran-Dûn, a dwarfish mine foreman out to gather an army and take back his position and home. Hit dice 2, average attribute 16.
  • Ostrot, an extraplanar rat-monster with a terrible bite. Hit die 2, average attribute 12.
  • Seela, a praedor against her will. Level 1, experience 0, average attribute 11.

Characters in Rajamaat 2, in Wilderlands of high fantasy

  • Kaumil, a wood elven archer adventuring in Wilderlands of high fantasy, near Modron. Level 2, average attribute 13, modern D&D experience 1000, cheap wargamey experience 460.
  • Senja, a mercenary who would rather not kill; currently seeking initiation with Mitra. Adventuring in Wilderlands of high fantasy, near Modron and a keep on the borderlands. Level 5, total experience 16866, average attribute 11. Wargamey experience 1656, cheap wargamey experience 13428, miscellaneous experience 1782.

Free characters

  • Rufus Hale, an enforcer.
  • Zeilee with alias «Tsai», a mechanic and space wreck looter. Level 1, experience 10, average attribute 11. Escaped from a creepy collapsing spaceship with some loot and a military general from fifteen years ago.
  • Bonicalcus, a drug-addicted underground alchemist and healer under a fantasy metropolis. Average attribute 11, highest skill value 64 %
  • athes, a cruel pseudo-mongol mounted archer. From Barren lands in Greyhawk and adventuring in Theranos. Level 5, average attribute 11. Wargamish experience 145, modern D&D experience 6070.
  • Lambros, a stoneman and a newly initiated thief. Strides 3, average attribute one dot.
  • Vasana, a heavy cavalrywoman of the Ernaldori clan of the Colymar Tribe, in Glorantha. Average attribute 14, highest skills and affinities 90 %.
  • Torgun Sigurddottir, a skjoldmøy from a shattered Norden, adventured last near Saxon. Level 2, adventure points 229, average attribute 10.
  • Melaku, a godbound in the village of Waja, in Ancalja. Level 1, average attribute 15, experience 2, spent influence 0.
  • Sølv, a human leader who owns a great farm, last seen in Saxon. First level, 73 adventure points, average attribute 13.
  • Shahu, a human merchant (or maybe a naga wizard) working for the glory of his trade company (or maybe nest). Currently active near Saxon. Level 1, personal adds -1, total adventure points 358.
  • Pönk, level 4 wolf troll warrior in the empire of Khazan, near Saxon. Personal adds 41, total adventure points 624.
  • An orcish archer, rampaging through dwarven mines.
  • A human adventurer who is quite certain they are born in a wrong body, being actually an elf. Cursed to burn eternally, suffering from terrible pain, but surviving regardless.
  • A swashbuckler buckling the swashes in northern Golarion. Level 1, average attribute 12.
  • Imhotep, a mummy masquerading as a historian in the modern Paris, though still wishing for the good old times to come back.
  • A teenage nerd mage, quite good with telekinesis.
  • Torakka, a superhero with the powers and inclinations of a cockroach.
  • A paladin, doing paladiny things in some fantasy world. Level 1, average attribute 12, experience 3.
  • A barbarian, strong and not very social. Level 1, average attribute 13.
  • An elf, level 1, experience 100, last seen adventuring in castle Caldwell.
  • A stalker who faced spooky outlines of people in the zone.
  • A young priest and praedor in Jaconia.
  • A mouse guard, mousing and guarding the state of the mice.
  • A noble of light in the Star wars very extended universe.
  • An apprentice Orlanthi shaman in Glorantha.
  • A student of statistics that has heard of the first signs of a coming zombie apocalypse.
  • A bear using a big log as a weapon. Level two, experience 135, average attribute +2.
  • A commando on a task in a near future banana republic in Middle or South America.
  • A samurai adventuring on an island full of mythical creatures.
  • A rich Roman senator on a boat to Britain, out of favour and property in the capital.
  • A mercenary minotaur illusionist, using walls of silence and darkness to obscure his position, while using grenades and a machine gun to deal with his enemies.
  • A doppelgänger, hit die 1, average attribute 14.

Graveyard

  • Fridswid, a young witch whom the oracle of Zagyg killed with a death spell, while she was hoping to release the oracle. Level 2, wargamey experience 1945, miscellaneous experience 1020, average attribute 12.
  • Blarg, forest troll warrior died in the empire of Khazan, near Saxon, killed while simultaneously killing a horrid necrolyte and saving the village. Level 2, adventure points 1560.
  • Pöö, a warrior in the empire of Khazan, died in the blood feud of Saxon. Level 1, adventure points 1483.
  • Garkromm, a savage entertainer from Abbor-Alz in Greyhawk, died in the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk, eaten by a fire beetle. Level 1, experience 268.
  • Rodaria, a seamstress from the city of Greyhawk, died in the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk, pierced by two spears to their gut, one ripped out by a (friendly?) barbarian. Level 1, experience 209.
  • Ottar, a chieftain from Sogndal, perished in Buffalo castle. Level 1, adventure points 127.
  • Mitlar, a human warrior who was slain by killer bees in Buffalo castle while also killing them. Level 2, adventure points 62.
  • Wohoo the gargoyle warrior, level 1, killed by an orc at the exit of Buffalo castle in Khazan Empire. 42 adventure points.
  • Möö the urook warrior, level 1, died in a pit in Buffalo castle, killed by an orc. Empire of Khazan in Trollworld. 5 adventure points.
  • Lone wolf, a kai aspirant, who was assasinated on while seeking the sommerswerd.
  • Ranrance, a first level thief of small stature, mauled by a magical owlbear statue in Greyhawk. Level 1, experience 0.
  • A character killed by an animate mushroom, while trying to climb up from a cave. Level 1, experience 0.
  • A coast guard that died when a Great old one destroyed the ghost ship they were investigating.
  • A first level thief, died by lizardfolk or fishfolk in some abandoned mine dungeon. Level 1, experience 0.
  • An advanced robot that did not manage to convince the judges that it had learnt what humanity is.

Character stable #35

Theory review #72

Theory review #72

Character stable #34

The most recently played characters are listed first, aside from the graveyard, where the highest wargamey experience gets priority place.

Characters in active campaigns

  • Jarque, a Maldorean knight out on an adventure in Maure castle, in Flanaess. Level 1, experience 415, average attribute 11.
  • Gotdorfd, a very unfortunate pickpocket who was caught and pressed into service as a dungeon guide in Great kingdom, in the world of Greyhawk. Currently adventuring in Gnarley woods. Level 1, experience 832, average attribute 10.
  • Senja, a mercenary who would rather not kill; currently seeking initiation with Mitra. Adventuring in Wilderlands of high fantasy, near Modron and a keep on the borderlands. Level 5, total experience 16866, average attribute 11. Wargamey experience 1656, cheap wargamey experience 13428, miscellaneous experience 1782.
  • Jussi Puska, a ranger who can not fight with two weapons, adventuring in Gnarley forest in Greyhawk. Level 1, average attribute 13, experience 1308.
  • Ælfstan, a psionic monk who lives in poverty and has opinions about organized religions. In Gnarley woods in Greyhawk. Level 4, wargamish experience 7234, modern D&D experience +1156 and average attribute +1, wargamish average attribute 13.
  • Guinevere, the current queen of Camelot, but now adventuring in Greyhawk. Average attribute 12, level 1, wargamey experience 159, miscellaneous experience 240.
  • A dungeon badger in the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk. Hit dice 2, average attribute 11.

Tournament of fear survivors

These characters are technically in Coup de Greyhawk, but I would not mind playing one of them in another campaign, either.

  • Geoff, a noble from Ammeni, out in the world to have fun and make trade agreements. Level 1, experience 25, average attribute 10.
  • Melville, a poor Parisian master clerk. Level 3, experience 315, average attribute 10.
  • Jack Stone, a mage who used to rule the streets of a modern city, now transported by paradox into this fantasy land. Level 1, experience 10, average attribute 11.
  • Duran-Dûn, a dwarfish mine foreman out to gather an army and take back his position and home. Hit dice 2, average attribute 16.
  • Ostrot, an extraplanar rat-monster with a terrible bite. Hit die 2, average attribute 12.
  • Seela, a praedor against her will. Level 1, experience 0, average attribute 11.

Free characters

  • Rufus Hale, an enforcer.
  • Lone wolf, a kai aspirant, who reached the king and is now prepared to seek the Sommerswerd. Skill 19, endurance 25.
  • Zeilee with alias «Tsai», a mechanic and space wreck looter. Level 1, experience 10, average attribute 11. Escaped from a creepy collapsing spaceship with some loot and a miitary general from fifteen years ago.
  • Bonicalcus, a drug-addicted underground alchemist and healer under a fantasy metropolis. Average attribute 11, highest skill value 64 %
  • athes, a cruel pseudo-mongol mounted archer. From Barren lands in Greyhawk and adventuring in Theranos. Level 5, average attribute 11. Wargamish experience 145, modern D&D experience 6070.
  • Lambros, a stoneman and a newly initiated thief. Strides 3, average attribute one dot.
  • Vasana, a heavy cavalrywoman of the Ernaldori clan of the Colymar Tribe, in Glorantha. Average attribute 14, highest skills and affinities 90 %.
  • Torgun Sigurddottir, a skjoldmøy from a shattered Norden, adventured last near Saxon. Level 2, adventure points 229, average attribute 10.
  • Melaku, a godbound in the village of Waja, in Ancalja. Level 1, average attribute 15, experience 2, spent influence 0.
  • Sølv, a human leader who owns a great farm, last seen in Saxon. First level, 73 adventure points, average attribute 13.
  • Shahu, a human merchant (or maybe a naga wizard) working for the glory of his trade company (or maybe nest). Currently active near Saxon. Level 1, personal adds -1, total adventure points 358.
  • Pönk, level 4 wolf troll warrior in the empire of Khazan, near Saxon. Personal adds 41, total adventure points 624.
  • An orcish archer, rampaging through dwarven mines.
  • A human adventurer who is quite certain they are born in a wrong body, being actually an elf. Cursed to burn eternally, suffering from terrible pain, but surviving regardless.
  • A swashbuckler buckling the swashes in northern Golarion. Level 1, average attribute 12.
  • Imhotep, a mummy masquerading as a historian in the modern Paris, though still wishing for the good old times to come back.
  • A teenage nerd mage, quite good with telekinesis.
  • Torakka, a superhero with the powers and inclinations of a cockroach.
  • A paladin, doing paladiny things in some fantasy world. Level 1, average attribute 12, experience 3.
  • A barbarian, strong and not very social. Level 1, average attribute 13.
  • An elf, level 1, experience 100, last seen adventuring in castle Caldwell.
  • A stalker who faced spooky outlines of people in the zone.
  • A young priest and praedor in Jaconia.
  • A noble of light in the Star wars very extended universe.
  • An apprentice Orlanthi shaman in Glorantha.
  • A wood elven ranger, level 2.
  • A student of statistics that has heard of the first signs of a coming zombie apocalypse.
  • A bear using a big log as a weapon. Level two, experience 135, average attribute +2.
  • A commando on a task in a near future banana republic in Middle or South America.
  • A samurai adventuring on an island full of mythical creatures.
  • A rich Roman senator on a boat to Britain, out of favour and property in the capital.
  • A mercenary minotaur illusionist, using walls of silence and darkness to obscure his position, while using grenades and a machine gun to deal with his enemies.
  • A doppelgänger, hit die 1, average attribute 14.

Graveyard

  • Fridswid, a young witch whom the oracle of Zagyg killed with a death spell, while she was hoping to release the oracle. Level 2, wargamey experience 1945, miscellaneous experience 1020, average attribute 12.
  • Blarg, forest troll warrior died in the empire of Khazan, near Saxon, killed while simultaneously killing a horrid necrolyte and saving the village. Level 2, adventure points 1560.
  • Pöö, a warrior in the empire of Khazan, died in the blood feud of Saxon. Level 1, adventure points 1483.
  • Garkromm, a savage entertainer from Abbor-Alz in Greyhawk, died in the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk, eaten by a fire beetle. Level 1, experience 268.
  • Rodaria, a seamstress from the city of Greyhawk, died in the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk, pierced by two spears to their gut, one ripped out by a (friendly?) barbarian. Level 1, experience 209.
  • Ottar, a chieftain from Sogndal, perished in Buffalo castle. Level 1, adventure points 127.
  • Mitlar, a human warrior who was slain by killer bees in Buffalo castle while also killing them. Level 2, adventure points 62.
  • Wohoo the gargoyle warrior, level 1, killed by an orc at the exit of Buffalo castle in Khazan Empire. 42 adventure points.
  • Möö the urook warrior, level 1, died in a pit in Buffalo castle, killed by an orc. Empire of Khazan in Trollworld. 5 adventure points.
  • Lone wolf, a kai initiate, died in Flight in the dark, killed in an ambush by four drakkarim, after having met with the dying prince.
  • Ranrance, a first level thief of small stature, mauled by a magical owlbear statue in Greyhawk. Level 1, experience 0.
  • A character killed by an animate mushroom, while trying to climb up from a cave. Level 1, experience 0.
  • A coast guard that died when a Great old one destroyed the ghost ship they were investigating.
  • A first level thief, died by lizardfolk or fishfolk in some abandoned mine dungeon. Level 1, experience 0.
  • An advanced robot that did not manage to convince the judges that it had learnt what humanity is.

Character stable #34

Theory review #69

Theory review #69

The hero the land needs

This is a modern D&D campaign inspired by Eero Tuovinen’s Prydain campaign, Nestori Lehtonen’s Lohikäärmeliitto and by Timothy Kleinert’s Mountain witch game, as well as all the fantasy books I read as a child. Traditional games and middle school D&D could also work, with adjustments. I am using D&D 5 as the rules framework here.

Also, this is incomplete and unpolished. I do want to get it out of my head, regardless, and maybe it gives someone an idea or two.

We are going to tell a story about the farmboy becoming the great hero and deciding the fate of the land. The wise sage will guide them and various companions will play their role, too. But we do not know how the story will end or where it will go. And, as always, the forces and spies of the enemy are everywhere, magic is dangerous because it attracts the attention of the enemy, and non-humans are exotic and weird.

One game master, two to maybe at most five players.

The hero

They live on a farm or some other completely ordinary circumstance. They are a human. They are young; maybe a teenager? One player plays the hero. If there are two players, maybe two heroes could work, too, but it would be highly experimental.

The hero characters begins as a tabula rasa. They make all rolls at +2 (their proficiency bonus) and have six hit points. They are technically speaking first level. They gain their first level identity and powers as determined by the hero player; see below.

The game starts by the hero player describing their character’s ordinary life circumstances. They have to be boring; a farmhand, scrubbing the decks on a ship (maybe a pirate ship, but that is stretching it a bit), a smith’s apprentice, something of the kind. The character does not get a background, but the player can choose two skills, and a couple of tool proficiencies; if their narration includes some, they can take them now, or they can take them later as flashbacks. They do have to be ordinary stuff.

As the game progresses, the hero player can choose a character class, assign their attributes, select the rest of their skills, and so on, typically accompanied by a flashback if the element is new to the character as we know it. Want them to be a wizard? Give a flashback about them secretly reading an unknown book and getting in trouble because they should have been feeding the pigs. Or they might get inspired by the in-game events, finding their inner rage when facing some tragedy and thereby becoming a barbarian. A training montage is an alternative, too; maybe a ranger companion teaches them as they travel.

The hero typically gains a level after each adventure, excluding the intro. They can expect to outpace their boon companions fairly quickly, and maybe even the sage, if the campaign is longer.

The hero has two further privileges; the first is that the hero players gets to choose which adventure the group tackles. The others can and will offer alternatives and guidance, but the hero player, via their character, is the one to make the call. This is their story. They will also get to choose whether they save the land or doom it, side with the villain or against them.

The second privilege is that the hero will not die, at least not before the climax of the campaign. They might be taken prisoner, lost, charmed, left for dead, but they will not die. They might face the decision of either saving, or leaving to die, their boon companions, who can not die without the hero abandoning them.

The sage

One player has to play the sage. They, too, are human, but they are old. They are an eighth level character and a full caster. Intelligence or wisdom has to be their highest attribute. They should have a whole bunch of knowledge skills; sage is the default background. Using their powerful magic is certain to get the attention of the forces of evil, too.

The sage knows what is going on. They want to save the land, whatever that means. The sage player gets to define what that means, in fact. They also know who and what the villain is and what their servants are.

In the introduction adventure, after the hero player has described how their character lives, the sage player introduces their character entering the situation and warning against whichever calamity is about to strike. The sage player determines what are the rank and file of the evil forces and what their lieutenant is like; a fey knight and their hunting wolves or a troll in obsidian armour with a skeletal horde, maybe. And they are coming soon! There is no time to waste! This is how the introductory adventure begins.

The sage player continues having the authority to define the villainous, as well as artefacts that might help to defeat them. They can suggest or create adventures and will know about many opportunities the game master creates, too, but it is up to them if they want to reveal these to the others or not.

The sage might gain a few levels during play, once per each of the following conditions:

  • They save the day with powerful magic.
  • The hero learns that the sage has withheld critical information from them, thereby manipulating them.
  • They share all that they know with the hero.

The sage has the privilege of not dying permanently before the climax. They might be taken away, left for dead, die and turn into a ghost, but they will remain playable and in play throughout.

The companions

They do not need to be human, but they should each have a strong concept. The brave knight, the bodyguard robot, the exotic catgirl duelist, the evil witch, the shady criminal. A single strong concept is better than playing a dragonwoman bard who also rides a pegasus and is a former gladiator. The complexity of the characters come from their mysterious past and unclear loyalties.

The companion players can introduce facts concerning their domain; the player of the dwarven prince gets to tell about the domains of dwarves and what lies underground, while the noble outlaw’s player about the forests their group haunts and about the politics of the unjust despoilers that now rule. The player is also the only one who knows their mysterious past and can introduce whatever is appropriate to it, including creating or suggesting adventures. To invoke their mysterious past the player has to tell that is what they are doing, and should do it through the actions or dialogue of their character, if at all possible.

The companions start at fourth level and should expect to earn a few more during play. Each of the following increases the companion’s level by one, but each only once. Not every companion player should try to ping all of them.

  • The companion character shows their competence and worth, being crucial in solving a crisis.
  • There is a romance between the companion character and the hero character.
  • The hero drives the companion away due to distrust, but they return and show their loyalty.
  • The hero substantially aids the companion in solving the companion’s problems.
  • The companion betrays the hero.
  • The hero takes on the companion character’s adventure or an adventure to rescue the companion.
  • The companion turns out to be the villain. This grants five levels, not only one. The sage player should keep their eye out for this possibility, too, as this can not come to pass without their cooperation. But do not agree to this beforehand as players! It should be spontaneous if it comes to be.

Mysterious pasts and dark fates

Randomized blindly, so that only the player getting the particular past knows what it is.

  • Kind of heart. You do really want the best for the hero character, and to the extent it goes, to everyone else, too.
  • Evil. You work for the evil faction as a spy, lieutenant or even the big bad itself.
  • Hostages. People dear to you are held hostage by some faction sympathetic with the evil side, if not by the big bad themselves.
  • Redeemed. You used to work for the bad guys, but no more. You have had enough. Still, you know people there and they know you, and might make you a new offer.
  • An orthogonal quest. There is something you have committed to doing, no matter the price. It is not directly opposed or beneficial to the hero character’s purpose.

Kind of heart and an orthogonal quest are double as frequent as the others.

The adventures and the campaign

The game master is responsible for creating adventures, which are typically a series of encounters and should take one or two sessions of dedicated play; no more than three. The other players do have the possibility of suggesting adventures, but the responsibility for providing a sufficient variety and tying it all together lies solidly on the game master.

Each adventure has to have a failure out, or often several different ones related to particular encounters; what happens if the characters do not succeed at whatever they are trying to do? Death is not really an alternative, but the game master should prepare a few adventures with premises such as escaping from imprisonment or being rescued by new allies, usually tied to a companion character.

After an adventure the hero character gains a level and you have a scene or a few where the characters decide what to do next. The hero player, via their character, makes the call, but the other players get to introduce the alternatives and persuade the hero character to pick a particular one.

The intro adventure

The hero player describes where they are living their life, and a bit about them, maybe. The sage player introduces the character warning of the imminent threat of evil. Some companion characters might be present already, but their players can introduce them at will.

The first choice the hero player gets to make is: stand and fight, save everyone, or run away? Standing and fighting involves meeting a lieutenant and a dozen footsoldier of evil, as defined by the mage player, followed by another wave of dozen footsoldiers. The failure condition is an imprisonment situation or something similar, while on a success the evil is defeated, which does mean +1 threat rating (affects the next adventure). Also remind the mage player and other players of spellcasting characters of the effect blatant use of magic has on the threat rating, especially in case they decide to fight. The rescue scenario depends very much on the particulars of the situation, but any attempt should be judged fairly and on its own merits.

The second scene is dangerous weather threatening the group, but they do see a safe haven; usually a tavern, a harbour, a fortress or a a farm. Unfortunately, their host is a spy of the evil forces, which a usual knowledge or social skill check might reveal, as well as some dark histories. The game master should blatantly ask the players if their characters would know or recognize the host’s evil nature, allowing their host a social skill against any passive insight scores, as usual. Knowledge-type skill checks are against flat difficulty levels. The details certainly vary based on the circumstances, but the host should not have the strenght to take the characters by force. This begins as a social encounter and the main stake is what happens to the threat rating. Should the spy recognize what is going on, +3 threat rating for the next adventure. Only +1 if the spy is defeated and removed in some way, while +0 for the spy being none the wiser and -1 or even halved for a skilled misdirection. Of course, the characters can instead opt to face the awful weather, with likely failure consequences being loss of equipment, bouts of disease, and a getting lost adventure as the next mandatory adventure.

This finishes the introductory adventure. If the characters failed, they are likely in a mandatory adventure already, but otherwise they have or have had the opportunity to discuss their future course of action. The game master should prepare at least two adventures and prompt the players for any others that occur to them. Note that the different characters should have opportunities to discuss in private in various combinations, with others maybe trying to listen in, with the consequences for being caught played out and ultimately up to the hero character and player.

The threat rating and magic

The spies of the evil one are everywhere. This is reflected by a threat rating. The rating starts at zero, but increases as a result of what happens in play. It decreases if it does not increase during an adventure, or if the characters manage to misdirect the forces of evil to look for them in the wrong direction, or look for the wrong people.

The threat increases by one if the characters leave signs of their whereabouts or actively act against the evil forces. Blatant use of magic increases the threat rating by one plus the level of the spell used. Having non-humans or other remarkable characters makes threat rating increase more easily, since the evil ones will quickly learn to recognize such individuals and connect them with their foe.

The game master has to add an encounter with the minions of evil to any adventure if the threat rating starts at one or more. The challenge rating of the extra encounter equals the threat rating. The extra encounter manifests as the forces of evil looking for the group and particularly the main character; it might interfere with an existing encounter or be a new one.

The right to play

Some companion characters might turn unfit to play: captured, even killed, or driven away as untrustworthy. This is not a problem, as the player can simply make a new companion character, getting a new dark fate, too. This is also how to treat new or visiting players.

In case a player has two or more feasible characters to play during an adventure, they should excuse extra ones and play the most dramatically involved one. It is okay to change from one adventure to another. Character integrity is worth more than party integrity, as new characters are trivial to create and bring to play.

The hero the land needs

Character stable #33

The most recently played characters are listed first, aside from the graveyard, where the highest wargamey experience gets priority place.

Characters in active campaigns

  • Gotdorfd, a very unfortunate pickpocket who was caught and pressed into service as a dungeon guide in Great kingdom, in the world of Greyhawk. Currently adventuring in Gnarley woods. Level 1, experience 412, average attribute 10.
  • Jussi Puska, a ranger who can not fight with two weapons, adventuring in Gnarley forest in Greyhawk. Level 1, average attribute 13, experience 1308.
  • Senja, a mercenary scout who would rather not kill. Adventuring in Wilderlands of high fantasy, near a keep on the borderlands. Level 4, total experience 14366, average attribute 11. Wargamey experience 1656, cheap wargamey experience 10928, miscellaneous experience 1782.
  • Ælfstan, a psionic monk who lives in poverty and has opinions about organized religions. In Gnarley woods in Greyhawk. Level 4, wargamish experience 7234, modern D&D experience +1156 and average attribute +1, wargamish average attribute 13.
  • Guinevere, the current queen of Camelot, but now adventuring in Greyhawk. Average attribute 12, level 1, wargamey experience 159, miscellaneous experience 240.
  • A dungeon badger in the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk. Hit dice 2, average attribute 11.

Tournament of fear survivors

These characters are technically in Coup de Greyhawk, but I would not mind playing one of them in another campaign, either.

  • Geoff, a noble from Ammeni, out in the world to have fun and make trade agreements. Level 1, experience 25, average attribute 10.
  • Melville, a poor Parisian master clerk. Level 3, experience 315, average attribute 10.
  • Jarque, a Maldorean knight out on an adventure. Level 1, experience 105, average attribute 12.
  • Jack Stone, a mage who used to rule the streets of a modern city, now transported by paradox into this fantasy land. Level 1, experience 10, average attribute 11.
  • Zeilee, a space station engineer. Level 1, experience 10, average attribute 11.
  • Duran-Dûn, a dwarfish mine foreman out to gather an army and take back his position and home. Hit dice 2, average attribute 16.
  • Ostrot, an extraplanar rat-monster with a terrible bite. Hit die 2, average attribute 12.
  • Seela, a praedor against her will. Level 1, experience 0, average attribute 11.

Free characters

  • Bonicalcus, a drug-addicted underground alchemist and healer under a fantasy metropolis. Average attribute 11, highest skill value 64 %
  • athes, a cruel pseudo-mongol mounted archer. From Barren lands in Greyhawk and adventuring in Theranos. Level 5, average attribute 11. Wargamish experience 145, modern D&D experience 6070.
  • Lambros, a stoneman and a newly initiated thief. Strides 3, average attribute one dot.
  • Vasana, a heavy cavalrywoman of the Ernaldori clan of the Colymar Tribe, in Glorantha. Average attribute 14, highest skills and affinities 90 %.
  • Torgun Sigurddottir, a skjoldmøy from a shattered Norden, adventured last near Saxon. Level 2, adventure points 229, average attribute 10.
  • Melaku, a godbound in the village of Waja, in Ancalja. Level 1, average attribute 15, experience 2, spent influence 0.
  • Sølv, a human leader who owns a great farm, last seen in Saxon. First level, 73 adventure points, average attribute 13.
  • Shahu, a human merchant (or maybe a naga wizard) working for the glory of his trade company (or maybe nest). Currently active near Saxon. Level 1, personal adds -1, total adventure points 358.
  • Pönk, level 4 wolf troll warrior in the empire of Khazan, near Saxon. Personal adds 41, total adventure points 624.
  • An orcish archer, rampaging through dwarven mines.
  • A human adventurer who is quite certain they are born in a wrong body, being actually an elf. Cursed to burn eternally, suffering from terrible pain, but surviving regardless.
  • A swashbuckler buckling the swashes in northern Golarion. Level 1, average attribute 12.
  • Imhotep, a mummy masquerading as a historian in the modern Paris, though still wishing for the good old times to come back.
  • A teenage nerd mage, quite good with telekinesis.
  • Torakka, a superhero with the powers and inclinations of a cockroach.
  • A paladin, doing paladiny things in some fantasy world. Level 1, average attribute 12, experience 3.
  • A barbarian, strong and not very social. Level 1, average attribute 13.
  • An elf, level 1, experience 100, last seen adventuring in castle Caldwell.
  • A young priest and praedor in Jaconia.
  • A noble of light in the Star wars very extended universe.
  • An apprentice Orlanthi shaman in Glorantha.
  • A wood elven ranger, level 2.
  • A student of statistics that has heard of the first signs of a coming zombie apocalypse.
  • A bear using a big log as a weapon. Level two, experience 135, average attribute +2.
  • A commando on a task in a near future banana republic in Middle or South America.
  • A samurai adventuring on an island full of mythical creatures.
  • A rich Roman senator on a boat to Britain, out of favour and property in the capital.
  • A mercenary minotaur illusionist, using walls of silence and darkness to obscure his position, while using grenades and a machine gun to deal with his enemies.
  • A doppelgänger, hit die 1, average attribute 14.

Graveyard

  • Fridswid, a young witch whom the oracle of Zagyg killed with a death spell, while she was hoping to release the oracle. Level 2, wargamey experience 1945, miscellaneous experience 1020, average attribute 12.
  • Blarg, forest troll warrior died in the empire of Khazan, near Saxon, killed while simultaneously killing a horrid necrolyte and saving the village. Level 2, adventure points 1560.
  • Pöö, a warrior in the empire of Khazan, died in the blood feud of Saxon. Level 1, adventure points 1483.
  • Garkromm, a savage entertainer from Abbor-Alz in Greyhawk, died in the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk, eaten by a fire beetle. Level 1, experience 268.
  • Rodaria, a seamstress from the city of Greyhawk, died in the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk, pierced by two spears to their gut, one ripped out by a (friendly?) barbarian. Level 1, experience 209.
  • Ottar, a chieftain from Sogndal, perished in Buffalo castle. Level 1, adventure points 127.
  • Mitlar, a human warrior who was slain by killer bees in Buffalo castle while also killing them. Level 2, adventure points 62.
  • Wohoo the gargoyle warrior, level 1, killed by an orc at the exit of Buffalo castle in Khazan Empire. 42 adventure points.
  • Möö the urook warrior, level 1, died in a pit in Buffalo castle, killed by an orc. Empire of Khazan in Trollworld. 5 adventure points.
  • Lone wolf, a kai initiate, died in Flight in the dark, killed in an ambush by four drakkarim, after having met with the dying prince.
  • Ranrance, a first level thief of small stature, mauled by a magical owlbear statue in Greyhawk. Level 1, experience 0.
  • A character killed by an animate mushroom, while trying to climb up from a cave. Level 1, experience 0.
  • A coast guard that died when a Great old one destroyed the ghost ship they were investigating.
  • A first level thief, died by lizardfolk or fishfolk in some abandoned mine dungeon. Level 1, experience 0.
  • An advanced robot that did not manage to convince the judges that it had learnt what humanity is.

Character stable #33