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  • giorgis 11:44 pm on September 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    The Lost Brother – An OpenD6 Adventure – Ep01 Thetis 

    Placing my thoughts here mainly to setup the game. I’ll be going for a weird/pulp noir adventure this time, completely freeform, and to see where it will take me. (meaning only Oracular inputs for the adventure, player driven style).
    I’m thinking about Greece in the 30s. The protagonist will have a relative abroad they worry about (dead? missing? unknown?) and they’ll leave to find what fate befell them.
    D6 system is quite simple, and I know it very well, so I won’t need to do much rules look up. I know D6 Adventure is meant for this, so I might try to use this as-is. The Attribute Names have changed from Star Wars, but except for Presence which took over Technical, they’re the same (Reflexes = Dexterity, Coordination = Mechanical, Physique = Strength, Knowledge – as is, Perception, as is).

    I’ll be going with a male protagonist. Let’s call him Argyris Galatas. Maybe some ancestor was a milkman (Galatas=milkman in Greek).
    Roll ranomly for his age: 17+1d20. He’s 21 years old.
    Now I’ll go to donjon to get some inspiration for profession etc. After some failed outputs, I realized, I just needed to use the ‘Common’ profession to fit with the idea I have in my head.

    Dwight Dorsey: Male Mechanic. Str 12, Con 10, Siz 8, Int 6, Pow 12, Dex 15, App 13, Edu 10, San 60. Dwight has trimmed blonde hair and dark grey eyes. He wears worn clothing and a flat cap. Dwight is searching for his lost brother.

    That fits as an inspiration point.
    Argyris Galatas, 21, Male, Mechanic. He has trimmed black hair and dark grey eyes. He wears worn clothing and a flat cap. Argyris is searching for his lost brother.
    I’ll give him a Daring demeanor. I want something that will make him take action, to drive the story forward.
    His motivation is Altruism. He always puts others before himself, and that’s why he wants to help find about his lost brother.
    I used Septimus for the two above values.

    Daring: You like to take chances and buck the odds. The prospect of failure does not concern you, only the thrill of cheating defeat one more time.
    Altruism: You like to provide for the needy and underprivileged. In the Extent, your actions often take the form of doing good deeds for others.

    I’m using BOLD to create a background
    1. foreign relative overcome by fate
    2. haphazard tavern overcome by favored skill
    3. impassioned straying/lost overcome by counteraction

    I’ll see if I’ll use them.
    I’ll do some oracular questions now

    Q: Does Argyris have more siblings?
    A: Yes, and more than 2, he’s got 5 more siblings: 2 girls and 3 boys: 3 are younger and 3 are older than him: in order of younger to older its, brother, sister, brother, argyris, brother, girl, brother.
    that’s a large family
    now let’s find out the lost brother which one it is: brother, sister, brother, argyris, lost brother, girl, brother

    Q: is the mother in the picture?
    A: Yes, but, not the father
    Q: Did their father die in the war?
    A: Yes, their father died in the Greco-Turkish war, 10 years ago (let’s make current year 1932)

    I’ll roll some ages for the family: brother 15, sister 18, brother 19, argyris 21, lost brother 24, sister 25, brother 27
    I’ll get some names: Orestes 15, Stefania 18, Thomas 19, Argyris 21, Hermes 24, Georgia 25, Odysseus 27
    I’ll get some more details from donjon now: okay I’ve rolled that Orestes and Thomas are also mechanics. Thomas suffered an accident and is in a wheelchair. Maybe they all work together in the same job. That would make sense.
    Hermes is also a mechanic (but we concluded he’s lost) and Odysseus is a Farmer. Stefania works as a Typist and Georgia is a Secretary.
    I’ll see if anyone’s married. Of all of them only Hermes is married. Stefania is betrothed. Hermes is married, but they’re not living together (he’s lost, abroad)
    I’ll name the parents as well. Father’s name Konstantinos. Mother’s name Litsa. Herme’s wife’s name: Clio
    They live in Macedonia, Drama

    The year is 1932. The place is Drama, Macedonia region in Greece. Argyris, 21 is the middle child of the Galatas family of 7 children. The older one, Odysseus, 27, works the fields as a farm hand, while Orestes 15, and Argyris work as mechanics in the mechanized agriculture. His sisters, Stefania 18 and Georgia, 25 also support the family, working as typist and secretary at a law firm in town. They all live together, and this way they support their mother, widow to Konstantinos, hero of the Greco-Turcish war of 1922, and disabled brother, Thomas, 19, who suffered an injury during work as a mechanic and is in a wheelchair since. Only Hermes, 24, doesn’t live with the Galatas family. He is married to Clio Kontou, and has left to work as a mechanic at the merchant navy, so that he can provide for the family.

    Going back to the BOLD waylays. One thing about these prompts is that one should interpret them very freely.
    So for the first part ‘foreign relative overcome by fate’, to me it’s pretty simple and it ties well with the above storyline. It’s the story of his father (=relative) who died in the war (=foreign lands, overcome by fate). For sure this marked the life of young Argyris.

    Now I need to place some stats for Argyris

    Reflexes 3D (Brawling 4D, Dodge 4D, Sneak 4D)
    Coordination 2D+2
    Physique 3D (Stamina 4D)
    Presence 3D (Persuasion 4D, Willpower 4D)
    Knowledge 2D+1
    Perception 4D (Repair 5D)

    I will use the Strength Damage calculation from OpenD6 which is 3D/2 Round Up: 2D
    Funds: 3D

    Equipment: Hammer, Mechanic’s Tool Kit, Lighter, Backpack

    For the second part of the BOLD waylays we have ‘haphazard tavern overcome by favored skill’. That’s quite odd, but I’ll do what I can. As a teenager, Argyris used to hang out with his older brothers at the local tavern, ‘Maro’s Tavern’. The locals still talk about Argyris’ expertise one day when they smelled a gas leak, and they all ran out. The young man found the leaking connection using soap, and repaired it. Thankfully there was no open fire in the kitchen at the time.

    As for the third part of the BOLD waylays, ‘impassioned stray/lost overcome by counteraction’, I’ll gracefully use it to kickstart my story.


    So I want to deliver the starting knowledge that Hermes is lost, and of course this is going to be through a letter.
    Q: Is the information delivered through a letter?
    A: Yes
    Q: Is the letter addressed to Clio?
    A: False Presupposition.
    I can’t think of a False Presupposition, so I’ll just reroll.
    A: Yes.

    I’ll need to reconsider my Oracle. I’ll be using the Recluse base with d20 instead of d6, which reduces the odds of a False Presupposition from 1-in-6 to 1-in-20. Now to add MUNE Interventions, so whenever a ’20’ is rolled we’ll have an Intervention. I’ll be using the Mythic Descriptors for MUNE Portents.
    I think that’s a good mashup of Oracle engines.

    Wednesday, March 30, 1932, Drama, Greece.
    It’s late afternoon and Argyris has returned with his brothers from work. He can smell the bean soup his mother, kyra Litsa has cooked for them, from the outside of their hovel. As he enters he shouts ‘Mom, we’re home’ but he sees his mother in the kitchen which also serves as a living room, sitting at the table, next to his sister in law, Herme’s wife, Clio. There’s tears in her eyes, and Litsa is trying to comfort her, holding her dearly. A letter lies open on the table.

    Q: Is the letter written by Hermes?
    A: No, and it’s written by his captain.

    Argyris takes the letter waiting for them and reads it.
    “Dear Ms Kontou.
    My name is Kelvin Pembroke, I’m the captain of the ‘Iris’, where your husband Hermes Galatas served as Second Mechanic.
    I am writing this letter for no good reason.

    Q: Does it say where did Hermes go missing?
    Actually scratch that, tt does say where, I just need to find a way to roll it randomly. A random country generator did the trick
    Q: Does it say if Hermes behaved strange lately?
    A: No

    Hermes went missing when we made port at Singapore. We waited him for the entire shore leave, and even two more days. I write to you this letter from Singapore, the British police station. I’ve notified Hermes Galatas as missing, and informing you of this status.
    May you find solace in knowing that he always spoke fondly of you.
    Kelvin Pembroke
    Captain of the Iris”

    And that’s how the adventure begins. Argyris is Daring and Altruist, both of these kick in now. Combine this with the ‘overcome by counteraction’ from BOLD, and we’re set.

    ‘Some writer’s freedom here. After the fact I realized that the letter would be in english or whatever other language, but most probably not Greek. It would be most likely that she’d ask for the local teacher to translate it for them, but instead of going back and rewritting the scene and adding a teacher just for the translation’s sake, I’d call it probable that the captain found another Greek sailor from Iris and asked them to write the letter instead.’

    Argyris turns to his mother. “I’m leaving for Thessaloniki tomorrow. I’ll go find him.” She puts her hand to her mouth to cover a gasp.
    “Don’t worry Clio.” He turns to his sister-in-law. “Hermes is no deserter or coward. Whatever happened to him, I’ll find out. He’s alive and I’ll bring him home, or there will be hell to pay for whoever did him harm.”

    Q: Does anyone try to change his mind?
    A: No

    His brothers don’t stop him at all. “Argyris, we’ll take good care of mother. Worry not. You get Hermes back here. We’re with you on this.”

    Q: Does his family offer gear and food for the trip? (Likely)
    A: Yes

    The next morning Argyris boards the train towards Thessaloniki. His mother has packed him spinach pie, olives, cheese and bread for the road.
    Odysseus hands him over a gift, curled in a cloth. “This was father’s.” He says as he gives it to Argyris carefully. “The road ahead may be treacherous. You may need it.” Argyris nods, and peeking in through the cloth, he sees a bayonet. He covers it up quickly and packs it with the rest of his things.

    I’ll add Bayonet (+1D+2) and Week’s rations to the equipment.


    Q: Is the trip with the train as expected?
    A: No
    I’ll roll on TWENE:
    Increase simple element

    Thursday, March 31.
    The train trip to Thessaloniki is tiresome. The train was busier than usual, and there was little room to sit. Argyris reaches Thessaloniki by nightfall, exhausted, his body stiff.

    Now Argyris will go to the port, for two main reasons. He wants to learn whatever he can from other seamen about his brother and Iris and also to book passage, as a mechanic if possible to Singapore.
    I’ll roll Perception to see if he can find any information.
    Perception (4D): 22! with Critical. In general, as I did in the past, I rule that the Wild Die will also have some narrative effect, and not only mechanical one.
    So I’ll call that it is Likely that he learns something.

    Q: Does he find out anything about Hermes and the Iris? (Likely)
    A: No, and the ship never made port in Thessaloniki. Seems Hermes must have changed ships between ports.

    After a sound sleep, Argyris heads over to the port of Salonika. Seagulls abound, their cries are covered by the ship horns. Sailors and seamen, dirty with coal on their hands and faces, load and unload cargo ships.
    He finds a group of older sailors and asks kindly if they’ve heard of Hermes or the Iris. But none of them do. He mingles with them easily, he’s not a rich boy or anything, and he uses his position as mechanic and the brother of a sailor to quickly gain their trust, so they all ask around their friends, but they all come empty. Some even ask to the port authority, and they learn that Iris doesn’t make port in Thessaloniki.
    Disappointed by this complete lack of information, he knows that his only bet is to head to Singapore. Without knowing the language or anything, he hopes he’ll learn quickly.
    Using his new connections, he soon finds a ship that heads there.

    It’s a ship sailing under a Greek flag, called Thetis. Captain is Dimitris Papaspyrou. I’ll go to UNE to place a conversation.
    The Conversation mood is Friendly. NPC bearing is Promise. The NPC Focus is Flaws.

    He finds the ship ‘Thetis’ is written on the prow with big bold black capital letters. He finds a sailor at the ladder.
    “Heard you’re looking for a mechanic. My name’s Argyris. Galatas.” The sailor nods. “Kostas. Follow me.”
    “That’s a big ship. What’s the tonnage? Are you going to the Far East? Singapore?”

    Q: Does he answer?
    A: No

    Kostas just smiles. “You sure ask a lot of questions young man. Let’s me take you to the captain. You’ll talk all you like.”
    After a while they reach the captain’s quarters.
    “Captain, this young man says he’s a mechanic. Wants to go to Singapore.” Kostas says, and the captain nods.
    When it’s only the two of them left, the captain asks. “Name? What are your skills? Where did you learn?”
    “I’m called Argyris Galatas. Graduated practical lyceum. Worked as a mechanic for agricultural machines and train equipment in Drama. My brother is a ship mechanic and he taught me a thing or two.” Argyris answers.
    “What’s Singapore to you? why there?” he asks.
    “I want to find my brother. He was last seen there on shore leave.” Argyris responds.
    The captain leans forward. “What’s your worst flaw? The sea will bring out the worst of you at times. What will we see?”
    Argyris thinks it over. “Can’t say for sure. People say I dive in danger without thinking first.”
    The captain sits back. “Bravery is good. Even at sea. But it can also be the end of you. Be careful Argyris. Or you might end up missing like your brother.” He pauses for a moment. “Welcome aboard the Thetis Argyris. I’m captain Dimitris Papaspyrou. The First Mate will show you around. Pay for a Junior Engineer is 800 drachmas per week, paid in american dollars.”

    Doing some search for that time period and looking at some atlas, I think it’s likely the Thetis will set sail for Aden and then Singapore.
    Q: Does Thetis go to Aden and then Singapore? (Likely)
    A: Yes

    Using some distance calculators and an average speed of 15knots, I estimate that it will take the Thetis 7 days to reach Aden, and another 11 to reach Singapore.

    Q: Do the days to reach Aden pass by unexciting?
    A: No. Something happens. Let’s find out when.
    6th day, 22.00 hours. The night before they reach Aden.
    Q: Is Argyris on shift?
    A: Yes
    I have no clue as to what it is, so I’ll roll for a portent in Mythic: Change Representative.
    A mutiny!
    We’ll find out the why later, but for now, we need to play out the scene. I assume that the mutineers don’t trust Argyris enough to have him join their plans, but nevertheless this is a Solo RPG, so I’ll ask the Oracle.

    Q: Do the mutineers try to include Argyris to their plan before it unfolds? (Unlikely)
    A: No

    Argyris is in the engine room. Checking the pressure gauges and making the necessary adjustments as ordered, when two sailors enter.
    Rough fellas, they approach menacingly.

    Let’s roll Perception see if Argyris realizes something’s off.
    Perception (4D): 10. Argyris is too focused on his job to get the hint.

    They surround him. “Kill the engines. Now.” Says the taller dude.
    “Are we in Aden already? captain said we’re not due until tomorrow.” Argyris asks naively.
    They smile. “No, but it’s time to kill the engines boy.” He repeats and rubs his knuckles.

    So, Argyris has no warm feelings towards the captain, but he’s an Altruist, and Daring. He does stupid things, like the one he’s gonna do right now, and use his hammer to take a swing to the sailor.

    Initiative:
    Argyris: (4D): 14
    Sailors: (2D): 14!
    Two wild dies for the sailors!
    But in ties, the highest characteristic goes first, so Argyris gets his chance.
    He won’t attempt to parry, he want to strike hard his foe.
    Argyris: Reflexes (3D): 14. Success.
    The sailor won’t try to parry it. He’s hit. Damage (3D+1D): 18. Resistance (2D): 25!!!
    Seriously?
    Sailor 1 jab at Argyris: (3D): 14: Hit. Damage (2D): 10. Resistance (3D): 20.
    Sailor 2 jab at Argyris: (3D): 7: Miss

    Round 2
    Argyris: (3D): 10: Hit: Damage (4D) : 17: Resistance (2D): 5: Incapacitated.
    Sailor 2 jab at Argyris (3D): 7: Miss

    Round 3
    Argyris (3D): 7: Miss
    Sailor 2 jab at Argyris (3D): 6: Miss

    Round 4
    Argyris (3D): 12: Hit: Damage (4D): 12: Resistance (2D): 6: Wounded.

    Q: Does the sailor surrender? (Likely – they’re just mooks)
    A: Yes

    His hammer finds the man right in the chest, but despite the strength of the blow, the tough sailor doesn’t feel any pain, and throws a punch at Argyris, which lands on his belly. Thankfully he had just flexed his muscles in time, and took the brunt of the blow without losing his wind. The other seaman tries to punch Argyris from behind, but the closed quarters of the engine room don’t help him find his target.
    Argyris swings his hammer once more at the sailor in front of him, and as he tries to avoid it, he bangs his head on a valve and knocks himself out. Argyris turns around just in time to avoid yet another jab from the other sailor. They punch at each other, but they miss, and Argyris calculates his next strike carefully. He swings his hammer, hitting the seaman at the arm, brusing him. Unable to lift his arm for the time being, the sailor yields. “Stop stop! Have mercy please!”
    “What is going on in the ship? Why did you try to jump me? Why shut down the engines?” Argyris asks, waving his hammer above the sailor man.
    “We’re taking over the ship. The Second mate is taking over the bridge with some men, and we were to take over the engines.” He answers.
    “How many are the mutineers?” He asks.

    Let’s say the ship has a complement of 20+1d20 = 27 crewmen. Barring the captain, the first mate and Argyris, who are not mutineers, and the two sailors and the second mate who are, there may be 21 more mutineers. They wouldn’t make a move unless they were at 2/3 or more. So I’ll say that from the remaining 21 men, 1d8 may be loyal = 8. So it’s 17 mutineers in total of 27.

    “We’re a dozen and a half. Ship is ours.” The mutineer says.
    Argyris punches him and knocks him out cold. He needs to decide how to proceed.

    I think first, he’ll try to sabotage the engines, and then take a lifeboat away.

    Argyris: Repair (5D): 16.

    The young mechanic closes the gas valves, reroutes all steam to the exit points and then removes the valve cranks.

    Q: Does he have his bayonet with him? e.g. in his toolbox?
    A: No, and he’ll have to go to his quarters to get it.

    I think Argyris will try to get it, since it’s a family heirloom, given to him, and maybe the only thing he has left of his father.

    Q: Are his quarters far away?
    A: Yes

    Okay so he’ll have to sneak past the most of the ship.
    Argyris: Sneak (4D): 18!

    As graceful as a cat, Argyris moves through the ship corridors in the dark of the night, avoiding any possible sightings from the mutineers. Finally he reaches his quarters. He wants to get his things and try to escape the Thetis on a lifeboat.

    Q: Is there anyone inside the quarters?
    A: Yes, and it’s more than one.
    Q: Is is mutineers?
    A: Yes, and, it’s two of them, searching through his things.

    Argyris will try to con them.

    “I killed the engines. Stefanos asked me to tell you that he needs you on the bridge. He needs some extra hands there.” He says with persuasion as he steps inside the quarters.

    Argyris: Persuasion (4D): 9
    Sailors: Willpower (3D): 8

    Startled, the two sailors turn and look at him. At first they’re quite jumpy, and approach with intent. But as they step next to him they smile and laugh.
    “Got ya!” The sailor says as he passes him by.
    Once they’re out of sight, Argyris breathes a sigh of relief. He puts his things in his backpack, grabs hols of his bayonet, blade looking down, and steps out, to the nearest lifeboat. It’s only a matter of time before his ruse and his sabotage has been uncovered.

    I rule that there’s a lifeboat nearby. It’s supposed to be near the crew quarters after all, but he’ll still need to avoid any suspicious mutineers.

    Argyris: Perception (4D): 17

    Q: Is there anyone near the lifeboats?
    A: No, and, it’s a clear path.

    Argyris: Sneak (4D): 11

    Argyris makes haste to the lifeboat. His footsteps are heard on the deck, but there’s noone around to listen. He puts his backpack inside, jumps in and releases the locks. The chains unhinge and the lifeboat drops to the sea with a loud splash and the rattle of metal. Without wasting anytime to see if anyone took notice, he starts rowing as far away from Thetis as he can.


    Session Summary

    Yes! That’s what I love about player-driven solo roleplaying. The protagonist tries to achieve a goal, and the oracle puts obstacles all over the place! Now there’s a whole new adventure thread just by a single hook. So many questions! Why is there a mutiny? Will the mutineers go after Argyris? Will he make it ashore? Is the land safe?
    All of this and we’re not even close to his brother disappearance in Singapore! At least he has his father’s bayonet with him. Let’s hope the lifeboat has some decent supplies stoked inside.

     
  • giorgis 11:41 pm on August 30, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    To Tharbad. Ep03 

    Although Tharbad is no longer the direct destination of Leowyn, I’m still keeping the same name for this adventure for posterity’s sake.

    Forgot to make the development rolls. Leowyn is granted 2 Intrigue, 2 Rhetoric, 1 Initiative and 1 Unarmed development roll based on her skill use last session.
    Intrigue: (42): 89,10: Increase to 43
    Rhetoric: (33): 24,11: No increase
    Initiative: (68): 26: No increase
    Unarmed: (65): 24: No increase

    So the distance she will have to travel is about 50 miles.
    Again, what I’ll be doing is once I have reached the destination by approximation, I’ll ask the Oracle about it.

    It’s an unpaved road. Depending on the weather conditions she might be moving up to 23 miles per watch.

    Day 31st Hithui, 3rd Watch

    Weather (19) stays the same. It is cold, and cloudy with no snow.
    Encounter: 4: No encounter
    She traveled 20 miles. (Reducing because she didn’t leave right away at morning).

    Day 31st Hithui, 4th Watch

    Weather (19) stays the same. It is cold, and cloudy with no snow.
    Encounter: 3: No encounter
    She traveled 23 miles and made camp.

    Day 31st Hithui, 5th Watch

    Weather (20) is cold, and overcast with no snow.
    Encounter: 14: No encounter

    Day 31st Hithui, 6th Watch

    Weather (1) is freezing, and overcast and starts to snow.
    Encounter: 19: Rural, Lawless /Night: 82: Reroll as Urban: 37: Lia-Kavair (Thieves): 45: Journeyman: 29: Burgling/Casing Job/etc.
    When: At 20.17. I’ll decide that Leowyn isn’t yet asleep.

    Leowyn: Awareness: 03: MS
    Thief: Awareness: 89: MF

    Leowyn has camped by the side of the road where, a low escarpment provides some protection from the cold winds. As the temperature drops to freezing point, she throws a couple blankets over her horse to keep it warm, and lies beside it, so that their combined temperature will help them through the night.
    As she does so, she notices a torch carrying figure, trod through the road, slowly, crouched, a club at the other hand. ‘No peace-loving man walks, club at hand in the middle of the night’. She thinks. Considering how close she is to the battlesite where the Fennas Drunin guard overtook the bandits, she realizes this might be one of the bandits.
    Perhaps one that fled the fight, or one that wasn’t there in the first place, returning to their camp. It could as well be the very man that killed her beloved. With these thoughts in mind, she slowly draws her blade, puts on her helmet, wears her shield, and sneaks towards the cloaked figure.

    Leowyn: Stealth (39-25): 06: MS

    Considering the thief’s lack of awareness, the overcast night sky and snowfall, and her stealth roll success (albeit not a critical success), I rule that she has reached the presumed thief undetected.

    Paying no heed to her bruised thigh, nor to her heavy armor, moving fast, with the agility and grace of a cat, Leowyn reaches the figure, just a couple paces behind.
    She puts her blade at the back of her foe’s neck, and shouts “That’s enough. Drop your club and turn to face me.”

    Leowyn: Rhetoric (33-5): 06: MS
    Success! The figure drops their club! Time to go to donjon for some information.

    Donjon: Waerblu: Female Human Scofflaw, Evil. Waerblu has a round face, with thick silver hair and hazel eyes. She wears sturdy clothing and a yellow cloak. Waerblu has an animal companion, a sable ferret named Maly.

    A woman turns around. Round face, thick silver hair, hazel eyes. She looks at Leowyn.

    Q: Does she wear the locket? I’ll call it a 50/50.
    A: No (at least there is no such thing visible).

    “If you’re looking for your friends, they’re all dead. Feeding the crebain.” Leowyn continues, certain that the woman is part of the bandits. “Now show me your necklace, or by the ancestors, I’ll send you to join your friends.”

    I need some info on how the woman will react to Leowyn. Will she plead innocence?
    Q: Does she plead innocence?
    A: No
    So, she’s part of the bandits.

    As if accepting her fate, the woman nods. “Did you kill them?” She asks.
    “The town guard did.” Leowyn responds. She gestures up to her throat with her broadsword. “The necklace.” She adds.

    Q: Does she wear a necklacke at all?
    A: Yes, but, it’s not the one Leowyn gifted Argulf.

    She slowly puts her hands around her neck, and brings out a necklace. Leowyn sees under the torchlight, that it isn’t the one she’s looking for.
    “There were Rohirim amongst you. How many were there?”

    Q: Does she say it was five?
    A: No
    Q: Is it more?
    A: No: 1d4: 1. Intervention: 4: Advance Plot: He had a locket.

    “It was just one, but he made some impression on the rest of our group. Some of the strongest men tried to immitate him. Dress like him, and fight like him.” She responds. “Will this take long? It’s getting freezing cold here.” She asks impatiently.
    “Are you in a hurry to visit your friends in Fenas Drunin, or the afterworld?” Leowyn puts her back in her place. “Did he wear a silver locket with an intricate horse design?”
    “He did wear a locket. What’s it to you and the lockets?” She asks.
    “He’s a murderer who killed the man I loved.” Leowyn scoffs. “You’re coming with me, to the battle site.”

    Leowyn will try to bind her hands.
    Q: Does she try to escape?
    A: Yes

    I’ll roll Initiative for both of them.
    Leowyn: Initiative: (68-5): 52: MS
    Waerblu: Initiative: (55): 80: CF

    So Leowyn realizes what Waerblue is going to do, and gets to make an opposed STR roll.
    Leowyn: STR: 11+15-5: 21
    Waerblu: STR: 8+10: 18
    Leowyn wins.

    As Leowyn starts tying up the thug, she instictively realizes the bandit will make an attempt to escape. The thug makes a quick move of her hands down to get away, but Leowyn grips her tightly. Her strength as a warrior is evident, and despite her opponent’s will to run free, she overcomes her.
    “Next time it will be my blade on your hands.” Leowyn says grinding her teeth as she speeks. Revenge burns hot inside her.
    The thug’s hands bound, both to a tree, and to Leowyn, they camp for the night.

    ‘I noticed I made a mistake with regards to the middle earth calendar, and it’s not New Years now. Hithui is the equivalent of November, therefore, with this in mind, I’m continuing the adventure.’

    Day 1st Girithron, 1st Watch

    Weather (20) is now cold, and overcast and snow stops.
    Encounter: 7: No encounter

    Day 1st Girithron, 2nd Watch

    Weather (1) is now freezing, and overcast and starts to snow.
    Encounter: 12: No encounter

    Day 1st Girithron, 3rd Watch

    Weather (1) is now cold, and overcast and continues to snow.
    Encounter: 12: No encounter

    Q: Did Waerblue attempt to escape overnight? I deem this unlikely, since there was already a failed attempt.
    A: Yes, but, Leowyn realized it and she stopped short. Random event: Delightfully Heavy, Procrastinate Path.

    After a freezing cold night where the bandit lady tried once more to get up, only for Leowyn to wake up because of the well tightened ropes, and put her back to her place, they start pacing towards the battle site.
    The prisoner tries her best to delay them, slowing down whenever she can, and pulling back the horse.

    Q: Do they reach the battle site? (I’d have this at likely where it not for the delay)
    A: Yes

    I rolled some descriptors as to what they’d find, but then I recalled that the town guard told Leowyn that they left the bandits’ bodies there for all to find, so I’m going with this.

    Leowyn rides, with the bandit lady bound, and tied with a rope to the saddle, walking by the right side, when they reach the site.
    Several bodies are hanging from trees, upside down, lining the sides of the road. They’re hanging just above a standing man’s reach, so that the wolves can’t get to them, but the carrion birds have already started working.

    I’d say it’s 5d6 of them. 17.

    They count almost a dozen and a half bodies hanging. If it weren’t for deep winter, the stench would be unbearable.
    The bandit lady has turned white with horror of what she sees, and scared of the fate that might befall her.
    “Do you see him? the Rohirim?” Leowyn asks as she takes a careful look at the bodies.

    Q: Does she point out to the Rohirim bandit?
    A: No
    Q: Does she try to bargain for her freedom?
    A: No
    Q: Does she try to escape yet again?
    A: No. Intervention: Regress plot.

    She shakes her head. “I.. I can’t tell. They’re mangled, maimed. Crebain have done short work of their faces. I can’t recognize him amongst them.”
    Leoywyn scoffs. “What did he look like? Hair? Beard?”

    Donjon: Hylpre: Male Human Fighter, Evil. Hylpre is stout, with grey hair and soft grey eyes. He wears chain mail and wields a bastard sword and shield. Hylpre has a mild allergy to rodents.

    Q: Is there any gray haired bodies? (Likely)
    A: Yes, and there’s one wearing chain mail.

    “Gray hair. No beard. He’d wear mail.” the thug responds.
    Leowyn looks around and starts examining each and every hanged bandit corpse, until she finds one that fits.

    Q: Is there any necklace hanging down?
    A: No

    She looks at it closer, and cuts down the rope. The body falls down with a thud.
    She dismounts, and approaches the corpse.
    “Don’t try anything stupid.” She warns her prisoner before leaning down on the body to search it.

    Q: Is there the locket?
    A: Yes, but.

    I pause here because the “Yes, but” interpretation can either solve the quest or not.

    • Yes, but, it’s been damaged
    • Yes, but, it’s not the locket that Leowyn gave to Argulf
    • Yes, but, it’s bent so that she can’t tell for certain if it’s hers

    Since it’s so important, I’ll roll 1d3 for the interpretation.
    A: Yes, but, it’s not the locket that Leowyn gave to Argulf

    She finds a locket, not the one she gave to Argulf. Her heart sinks.
    She shows it to the bandit. “Is this it? the locket you were talking about?”

    Q: Is it the locket she had seen?
    A: Yes

    The bandit nods. “That’s the one. You’ve found your Rohirim. Are you happy? can I go now?”
    Leowyn sighs. She feels exhausted. Her path to revenge has led her astray. She abandoned her only friends back at the Last Bridge Inn while looking for a needle in a haystack.
    She walks to the bandit, and cuts her free. “You may as well. You’ll only slow me down.”

    Q: Does the bandit give any advice before fleeing?
    A: No, but, she’s grateful for the chance she’s given.

    Leowyn considers how her people stand out amongst the rest of the Eriadorians. Since he’s not been seen here, then he’s either hiding amongst his own people in Rohan, or hiding from the law in Gondor.
    She turns her horse around and heads back South once more.


    I really tried to hook the threads together into my protagonist’s goals, but the hooks didn’t catch on, almost to the point of frustration. I really wanted to give Leowyn a sense of closure, because deep down I was imagining she could possibly join her adventuring companions once more, and they could explore the Trollshaws together.
    Nevertheless, the Oracle-master has different plans in mind, and this is very much realistic, even from a social TTRPG perspective. The player went on a wild goose chase, and paid the price. Leowyn has abandoned both her friends, and her not-so-good employer.
    I’m now quite frustrated to say the least, as a player. Having Leowyn travel almost the entire distance that The Fellowship travelled over three books! even as a Rider, and even with the North South Great Road available, is no easy task. Especially considering the hexcrawl nature of Harnmaster.
    And I do not want to spend my solo gaming time, grinding through random encounters and weather generation.

    Therefore I need to improvise. I’m considering the following solutions.

    • Switch gears. Change the Timetick from the 4-hour watch, to a Day. I will need to make some calculations to make a single roll for the encounter probabilities, but that can be worked using e.g. anydice.
    • Use the BOLD Waylays mechanic. It isn’t fun to only crawl the entire distance without something happening to prevent Leowyn and generate conflict. Perhaps the Waylays are the tool to use to use a narrative description of what happened during her trip to her destination(s).

    More specifically, I’m thinking of mixing them together. I’ll be flexible as the rolls progress.


    BOLD: Waylay: Foreign deputies (Easy foes).
    I’m also rolling the Solution (optional) mostly as inspiration. Overcome on accident.

    So first of all, I need to determine the when.
    I deem that the first Waylay is on the road to Tharbad.
    It’s about 250 miles to Tharbad, so I’ll roll to see when it occurs: at 100 miles in her trip. That’s after Fenas Drunin, on the road by Mitheithel.

    Foreign deputies, my interpretation is that it’s a patrol from a group whose lands do not belong to them. Right now Leowyn is in Cardolan which is pretty much headless, so that isn’t too far fetched. Therefore it can’t be from one of the factions aiming to get a grip on the region.
    Since this is a Waylay, it must be an obstacle for Leowyn.

    I rule that this is a group from ~Angmar~ Mordor.
    Their number is going to be the lowest of 2d6: 2.
    Considering the brutality of Harnmaster, two-to one can be deadly fast. I’m keeping the ‘overcome on accident’ as a possible (Oracle confirmation first) deus ex machina. Until then, it’s up to Leowyn and her skills.

    Before I’ll go in with setting the battlefield, I need to complete some bookkeeping. Get on with Leowyn’s development rolls, and see if her bruised leg has healed.
    Awareness (44): 50. Increase to 45.
    Stealth (39): 85. Increase to 40.
    Rhetoric (33): 43. Increase to 34.
    Now for healing, there’s a heal roll every 5 days in Harnmaster. That’s kinda odd, but anyhow, I’ve decided to use this ruleset, so I’m continuing with this. Therefore, Leowyn is still injured, as she’s not entitled yet to a healing roll.

    Q: Does the encounter happen during the day?
    A: No

    Day 5th Girithron, 1st Watch

    Weather (6) is now freezing, and cloudy and has rain showers.

    I decided to do some calculations, and it seems that the moon is waning. It entered the last Quarter at 2nd Girithron and will have a New Moon at 10th Girithron. There’s not much moonlight to help Leówyn see around.

    Leowyn: Awareness (45/2): 78: MF
    Orcs: Awareness (44): 55: CF

    They’ve both failed their awareness roll (Leowyn with half skill due to sleeping), but the orcs had a critical failure, hence Leowyn detects them first.

    It’s been four days of riding that Leowyn suffered through the cold winter of Cardolan. She went past Fenas Drunin without stopping there, only paying for a boat to carry her across, and then she continued by the old road on the western bank of Mitheithel.
    The constant rain and freezing cold has exhausted her, to the point that she doesn’t care about her bruised leg anymore and falls asleep. The thought of revenge still burns in her mind as her eyes close.
    Loud shouting voices and heavy footsteps in the mud wake her up. There’s only one kind of creature that speaks that hoarse and stringy, such an ugly language. ‘Orcs’ she thinks, and quickly grabs her sword and shield, and wears her helmet hastily.
    It’s only a couple of them, but they’re twenty yards away. It’s a matter of seconds before they see her.

    Considering Leówyn’s Move attribute equals Agility and is subject to Physical Penalty, so her modified move stat is 12 which means she can move 60 feet in a combat turn.

    Due to their Critical Failure in Awareness, I’m giving Leówyn a surprise turn.
    Therefore I need to decide if she’s going to get on her steed or charge at the orcs.
    I’m feeling adventurous, she’ll charge at the orcs.

    I couldn’t find anything in the Hârnmaster rules with regards to close combat difficulty when fighting in dim lighting conditions, so I wing it at -10 using some input from Mythras.
    The orcs won’t suffer from this since they have better eyesight during nighttime.
    Am I attempting to chew more than I can?

    Turn 0

    Leówyn vs Orc1: Broadsword (76+15-35): 02: Hit!: A3: Location: 04: Skull: Impact: 11+5-7=9: S3: Serious Cut to the Skull.

    Shock Roll: 11/10: The orc is down due to shock.

    She looks at her horse and then at the orcs walking by the riverside, and makes a quick call to jump at them.
    She charges at the nearest one, before they have a chance to react. With a quick slash of her broadsword she hits the orc’s side of the head. The helmet takes the brunt of the hit, but Leówyn is strong. The blade cuts deep, and with blood spilt, the orc drops at once, from the shock of the strike.

    Turn 1

    Leówyn attack declaration vs Orc2
    Orc2 defense declaration: Dodge
    Leówyn vs Orc2: Broadsword (76-20): 8: MS
    Orc2: Dodge (55): 83: MF
    That’s an A1 strike. Location: 09: Face. 29: Left Eye. Impact: 4+7=11: S3: Serious Cut to the Face.
    Shock Roll: 9/10: Saved.

    Orc2 attack declaration vs Leówyn
    Leówyn defense declaration: Block
    Orc2 vs Leówyn (55-15): 05: CS
    Leówyn: Block (78+20-35): 72: MF
    That’s an A2 strike. Location: 61: Abdomen. Impact: 10+5-9=6: S2: Serious Cut to the Abdomen.
    Shock roll: 9/11: Saved.

    Orc1: Shock: 4. It has recovered. Shock: 5: Is not in shock.

    With no hesitation, she turns to her other foe, and brings her blade in a quick overhead motion, hitting the orc at the face. His left eye gashed, the orc screams in pain, and strikes back wildly.
    His curved blade hacks at the bloodthirsty Rohirim shield maiden, right at her abdomen, cutting through both the surcoat and her mail armor.
    She gasps in pain. At the same time the first orc slowly regains it’s awareness.

    Turn 2

    Orc2: Initiative test: (55-15): 43: MF: Cautious for this turn.

    Leówyn attack declaration vs Orc2
    Orc2 defense declaration: Dodge
    Leówyn vs Orc2: Broadsword (76-20): 36: MS
    Orc2: Dodge (55-15): 14: MS
    That’s a stand-off

    Orc2 pass (cautious).

    Orc1: Rise

    His eye scathed, the orc has stepped back and isn’t willing to fight this furious foe alone. Leówyn hacks at him once more, but the goblin dodges and avoids the hit, while his friend rises and prepares to join the fight once more.

    Turn 3

    Leówyn attack declaration vs Orc2
    Orc2 defense declaration: Block
    Leówyn vs Orc2: Broadsword (76-30): 66: MF
    Orc2: Block (55-15): 52: MF
    That’s a Block.
    I deem that Leówyn’s shield is higher WQ by +1 while the Orc shield is lower WQ by -1.
    Orc test: WQ: Shield: 12: Pass
    Leówyn test: WQ: Broadsword: 15: Broken.

    Orc2 attack declaration vs Leówyn
    Leówyn defense declaration: Block
    Orc2 vs Leówyn (55-15): 77: MF
    Leówyn: Block (78+20-45): 7: MS
    That’s a DTA.
    Leówyn will draw her dagger.

    Orc1 attack declaration vs Leówyn
    Leówyn defense declaration: Block
    Orc1 vs Leówyn (85-15): CF
    Leówyn: Block (78+20-50): 15: CS
    That’s another DTA. I need to make some choices. Leówyn is wounded and is fighting two orcs equally wounded. Odds are against her. Her sword is broken. She’s fighting the dark. She might try for a lucky break with a dagger attack or disengage and go ride her horse.
    I’ll try for a dagger attack.

    Leówyn attack declaration vs Orc1
    Orc1 defense declaration: Counterstrike
    Leówyn vs Orc1: Dagger (70-10-20-15+5): 8: MS
    Orc1 vs Leówyn (55-15): 34: MS
    That’s an A1 strike to both of them.
    Let’s see Leówyn’s strike first: Location: 28: Right Upper Arm. Impact: 6+5-2=9: S2 Serious Stab. Fumble: 9+5=14/11: Drops the weapon: 7 in the same hex. Shock Roll: 19/11: Orc1 drops.
    Orc1 strike: Location: 4: Skull. Impact: 2+5-10=-3: No impact.

    The shield maiden slashes once more at the orc, but he blocks with the shield. The shield boss hits the blade, and the sword breaks in two.
    With reinforcements, his morale is bolstered and he steps up to strike at Leówyn, who blocks his hit, putting both her hands behind her shield. The reactive force of the blocked strike is such that the orc pauses for a few seconds, just enough for the shield maiden to draw her dagger.
    The other orc hesitates before joining the fray and Leówyn immediately reads his movement. She blocks with her shield, pushing him in a clockwise motion, and getting a clear opening to his right side. She stabs as he tries to hit her first with his curved sword. Leówyn has positioned herself to his blind spot and the orc hits her helmet with an outward strike, while her dagger digs deep into his upper arm.
    The slashed-skull orc winces in pain, drops his sword and falls down from the repeat wounds.

    Turn 4

    Orc2 initiative (55-15): 56: MF. Cautious

    Leówyn attack declaration vs Orc2
    Orc2 defense declaration: Dodge
    Leówyn vs Orc2: Dagger (70-40): 60: CF
    Orc2 Dodge (55-15): 3: MS
    That’s a DTA.
    Orc2 will attack back as part of the DTA.

    Orc2 attack declaration vs Leówyn
    Leówyn defense declaration: Block
    Orc2 vs Leówyn (55-15): 37: MS
    Leówyn: Block (78+20-45): 45: CS
    That’s a DTA but can’t be more than one per character turn so it’s lost.

    Orc1 shock roll: 15/11: still down.

    His friend down, the one-eyed orc pauses and doesn’t move forward to deliver hit, but as she jabs air in a failed attempt he finds an opportunity. His blade is deflected by the maiden’s shield and they stand back looking at each other with deadly intent.

    Turn5

    Leówyn attack declaration vs Orc2
    Orc2 defense declaration: Dodge
    Leówyn vs Orc2: Dagger (70-40): 20: CS
    Orc2 Dodge (55-15): 85: CF
    That’s an A3 strike!
    Location: 16: Right Shoulder. Impact: 11+5-5=11. S3: Serious Stab. Fumble roll: 9+6=15/11: Drops weapon.
    Shock roll: 25: Orc2 is down.

    Orc1 shock roll: 13/11. Orc1 is still down.

    Leówyn hides her dagger behind her roundshield as she steps forward. The orc fails to notice her blade and she stabs him hard on his right shoulder. The orc opens his hand, dropping his weapon while moments later he drops from the serious wound.
    Leówyn, seriously wounded, sword broken, grabbing her abdomen, is victorious.

    Leówyn finishes off the orcs and searches them.
    Orc1: Trade goods: 2 Furs. Silver: 12d. Weapons: 1. Round shield WQ+2.
    Orc2: Weapons. Longknife WQ-2.
    Q: Is the shield of sindarin make?
    A: Yes

    She leans over each of her fallen foes and gives them a coupe de grace with her dagger. They shall trouble the common folk of Cardolan no longer. Then she proceeds to search them.
    Among their belongings she finds a farthing worth of silver, a couple of wolf pelts that will help in the winter cold, a longknife in bad shape, and a fine shield, both of elvish make. Their trophies probably, of an elvish warrior they killed.
    She takes them. May they find revenge on her hands instead.

    Development Rolls:
    Dagger: 32. No increase.
    Sword: 24. No increase.
    Shield: 76. No increase.
    Awareness: 47. Increase to 46.
    Initiative: 90. Increase to 69.


    Leówyn has 150 miles to go approximately to reach Tharbad, but she’s only 50 miles away from Fennas Drunin. She needs a healer. I need to decide if it’s best for her to head back or move on.
    It’s about 4 days ride to Tharbad, so, she’ll risk it.

    I’ll roll again for “where” a waylay will happen. If it’s at the first elapsed 100 miles, then, it’s not going to happen. Otherwise, I’ll roll for it normally.

    Waylay occurrence: 120!
    Waylay: perceiving mooks, overcome by scarce used ability.

    Day 5th Girithron, 4th Watch

    Weather (6) is now freezing, and cloudy and has rain showers.

    With the furs, the night was a little less colder this time, but the humidity of the river somehow still managed to chill her bones. Leowyn continued riding south at first light.
    It’s still the middle of the day, when four desperate looking men come charging at her from the undergrowth.
    “Get the Rohirim bitch boys! she’s bleeding!” shouts one of them, while the rest yell in undefined vowels.

    Leowyn: Awareness (45-15): 32: MF
    Mooks: Awareness (44): 66: MF

    34 yards away. Leowyn saw them first. She has the opportunity to outride them, or turn back.

    Q: Is there an opportunity to outride them?
    A: No. She must fight them, or turn back.

    They broke from their hiding spots too early, ruining their ambush. ‘Idiots’, Leowyn thought.
    But as she looks down, she sees the red in her surcoat, and knows she must either fight them, or turn back.

    She’ll try to perform a mounted charge to get past them.

    Turn 1

    Riding EML = ((84-15)+60)/2=65.
    Ridng: 73: MF: Steed performs action. Rider has -10 to AML

    Q: Does the mook attempt to dodge out of the way? (Likely)
    A: No, and, he tries to counterstrike Leowyn

    Steed Trample: (65+20): 69: MS
    Mook1 counter: 78: MF
    That’s an A3 strike. Location: 19: Left Shoulder. Impact: 4+8=12. S3: Serious Fracture. Shock Roll: 6/9. Not shocked. Fumble roll: 9+3=12/12: No Fumble.
    The steed stops in the middle of the crowd. The mook is displaced to the side.
    The mooks move close to her.

    Leowyn is too proud to let go of her task. No pitiful thugs will stop her. Instead of turning around she decides to charge onto them. The sheer weight of her horse to trample them down.
    The horse falls with might onto the foolhardy mook, who tries to counterattack with his club, but doesn’t even manage to lift his hand in time, as the steed hits his shoulder. The bones fracture, but the man stays in place, and the small steed stops.
    Worried, Leowyn sees the enemies close in to her from all sides.

    Turn 2

    Riding: 50: CS: Steed performs action. Rider has +10 to AML

    Q: Does the mook attempt to dodge out of the way? (Likely)
    A: Yes
    Steed Trample: (65): 100: CF
    Mook1 Dodge: 65: CF
    Both Stumble.
    Steed Stumble (65+20): 83: MS
    Mook1 Stumble: 9+3=12. Success.

    Leowyn declare Longknife vs Mook1
    Mook1 will Counter.
    Leowyn: (78-35+10+10)=100: CF
    Mook1: 12: MS
    That’s a D2 strike. Location: Right Hip. Impact: 10+4-3=11. S3 Serious Fracture. Stumble Roll: 12+6=18: Failure.
    Unhorsing Roll: (65-50): 13: MS. Leowyn stays in saddle.
    Shock Roll: 18: Shocked. She’s down.

    She orders her steed to kick and trample the thug in front of her, so that she makes space to ride out, but the horse and foe loose their footing, and spend a few precious seconds to stabilize themselves.
    Leowyn tries to follow up with a slashing strike at the thug, but he gets the best of her and hits her with a club to her hip. The hit is strong, and bones fracture. Her mail doesn’t offer much protection against bludgeoning damage. She almost gets unhorsed, by the sheer force of the strike. Worse comes to worse though, and she loses consciousness, dropping to the ground with a thud.

    Q: Do the mooks kills her?
    A: No
    They take all her possessions, and leave her wounded, cold and hungry.
    Q: Does Leowyn survive the wilderness? (Unlikely)
    A: No

    Having left her for dead, Leown, recovers her consciousness later, but she’s in shock. Dazed, confused, wounded, cold and hungry, she tries to reach Fenas Drunin, but she walks aimlessly in the rough countryside, and she’s lost…


    Session Summary

    This concludes the story of Leowyn, the Rohirim shield maiden. I know Harnmaster is an unforgiving system, and I shouldn’t push it with a lone character, but the odds were with her in that last encounter. The dice weren’t. Two 100s! and a mook standing against a horse where I rolled 4! on 3d6 in the impact roll. It was meant for Leowyn to perish here.

    Harnmaster is an absolute marvel with regards to combat. Both combats in this session were so graphic! I love it so much.
    But, it suffers a lot in the general skill uses, with minimal guidance as to the difficulty grades.
    In combat I loved the injury levels, shock rolls, stumbles, bleeds and all the small rules that exist to make things interesting.
    On the other hand, I find that encumbrance is very limiting, and they offset it by giving weapon attack bonuses. I think I prefer the way Mythras or even MERP handles encumbrance, which is more realistic.

    I want to continue my adventures in the Trollshaws, so I may be switching to Dwalin and Camthalion for my next session. Again, I’ll need to decide to either use Mythras, Harnmaster, or a hack of Mythras with Harnmaster combat. Some hacking and conversions are in order to achieve this.
    I also must not forget that Mythras also has a Luck point meta mechanic that could save Leowyn from such fate.

     
  • giorgis 8:16 pm on August 24, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags:   

    Running an RPG Solo as a Player 

    Introduction

    This aims to be a document with the purpose of providing some guidance on several topics with regards to how to run an RPG, Solo and GM-less. The scope of this document is focused on the player-driven approach.

    The information provided is collected through own experience, discussions in social media platforms and inspiration provided by existing authored works.

    Some text may be copy-pasted from own previous articles and provided as-is or edited as required.

    I intend to have this document, live, and make changes as required. Excuse the editing. I think the content is more important at this time.

    Hope you find it helpful.

    Concepts

    So, what is Solo Roleplay Gaming?

    I’ll start by answering the second part first. What is Roleplaying? There are so many people who know nowadays, so the relevant introductory text in RPG books is oftentimes omitted. So roleplaying means to undertake a fictional role. Usually it means in a fictional world as well, but not always. Let’s put the third aspect now, gaming. Since this is a game, roleplaying is covered by certain rules that need to be followed, and there is a line between fiction and reality, which is blurred through immersion, but still remains there. Traditionally, roleplaying games, have Players who play one character each (PC) and Game Masters, also known as Narrators or Storytellers who are tasked with delivering the experience and having fun in the process. The GM narrates everything but the PC intentions and actions, describes the world, builds up the story, runs the NPCs and also has referee duties. Some RPGs may split some of the GM duties across the players or even be completely GM-less. Now, let’s kick in the first aspect, let’s make it Solo. This means it’s definitely GM-less. The (one) player is tasked with everything. Running the entire game on their own with the objective of having fun in the process.

    If I could categorize the different solo styles that appeal to this community, I’d put them in the spectrum of two axes. Journaling vs Traditional and Player vs Story Driven.

    Journaling style: when the game mechanics are used as an inspirational prompt for narrative. The player has the narrative freedom to write pretty much anything they want, so long as it fits the concept of the prompt. The interpretation of this concept can be very fluid as well. At the end of the spectrum it treads very closely towards ‘Writing with dice’.

    Traditional style: Playing an RPG of choice with the use of a set of tools commonly known as a solo engine. The solo engine can be as light as a single oracle, or it could be coupled with random tables, generators and whatever else needed to provide prompts. The RPG system could be united with the engine (solo rpg system) or could be a standalone regular TTRPG. At the end of the spectrum it treads very closely towards being ‘a solitaire board game’.

    Player driven style: When the game revolves around the player’s actions. What are their objectives? What do they do to accomplish them? Similar to how a first person video game would be run. What do I see? What do I hear? What does my opponent do when I confront them? At the end of the spectrum it leans towards minimal metagaming. The player’s knowledge and the protagonist’s knowledge should be as close as possible.

    Story driven style: The game is set up in scenes and threads and the game revolves around building a story using the protagonist. There is a lot of metagaming knowledge involved which is used to create an interesting story arch. At the end of the spectrum, it leans towards world building and emulating the characters instead of the world. Asking the Oracle what does the protagonist do when faced with the odds designed by the player.It’s not black and white, and many solo styles fall somewhere in between.

    I haven’t touched all the styles, but I consider that my favorite styles are at the end of Player Driven, Traditional style.

    Player Driven

    In Player Driven style, there is no need to try to generate an adventure. No random events to get everything going. No seeds from an online generator. No cards with descriptors to point somewhere.
    No, instead, they avoid completely the GM side and are focused on the Player side. The player has an objective, and actively tries to make it happen. There it is.

    In my failed solo attempts, I tried so many times to view everything from a GM perspective and used a multitude of tools to get creative juices flowing, and it was okay until that point, but when I tried to have my player act through it, it just wouldn’t work. I hit mental blocks. It’s as if my Player was waiting for the GM to drive the action.

    Almost all of the social TTRPG GM material is focused on how to make adventures and worlds and how to have the players run through them. Some GMs railroad the players into the story, others don’t need to as the players get the necessary signs and play through the story. In the solo community, traditionally we use those same materials to generate solo adventures, and here’s the catch. When you’re the same person running those sides, you end up testing how will your protagonist react to what you throw at them as a GM. It’s like puppeteering! The protagonist ends up being an empty shell, even if they have motivations, objectives and emotions. Because you ask, what will they do if the story goes X way?.

    Protagonists in RPGs aren’t meant to be puppets. They are meant to act, not react. We play these games to be knights vying for glory! wizards trying to find immortality! rebels trying to overthrow galactic empires! These are not everyday people waiting to see what fate has in store for them, they make their own fates! Sure sometimes fate will strike back, but when they defeat the adversities, they get back on their task and find a way to do it.
    The knight heads off on her own to find the orc chieftain and challenge them to combat, the wizard goes to the library to find forbidden texts on necromancy, the rebels spread pamphlets to call the workers on strike!

    So instead of waiting for the Gamemaster to be a Puppetmaster and be the driver, be a Player and go do what they have to. Have the oracle react to your protagonist, not the other way around.

    Protagonist Goals

    In Player driven style, it’s important to have protagonist goals that can drive the adventure and are interesting to the player. Both long term or short term goals work, depending on what is the expectation from the player. Overall a short term goal will drive a side quest or a short adventure, like a one-shot, whereas a long term goal has the opportunity of driving adventures and sometimes even entire campaigns.

    How to decide such a goal? Sometimes it’s clear as daylight to the player, but not always.

    An approach that works is playing stereotype characters, with stereotypical motivations. It helps a lot when what the character wants to do, aligns with who the character is.

    Other approaches include random or semi-random motivation generation:

    Using an NPC motivation table can help provide some inspiration. Especially considering that NPCs generators usually weigh more on the “gray” scale of good vs evil and law vs chaos, this can give some interesting results. It may help if one takes the best-out-of-three result or something similar, defined beforehand.

    A semi-random approach is utilizing a backstory generator. These generators usually allow the player to create backstories, by using some random input upon which the player creates a much expanded output. This creative freedom can help leash any wild results that would instead be generated by a random motivation table. Using the backstory as a starting point, a goal can be more clearly set.

    Session Zero

    A session zero is a concept well known to social TTRPGs. During session zero, the GM and the Players lay the foundation of their expectations for the upcoming game, as well as defining some limits.
    It’s not much different in a solo RPG. Before diving in head first into a game, before character genaration, spend some time to define what you want from the game you’ll play.

    What theme is it going to be, which ruleset you’re going to use, which solo engines, oracles and tools. How long will this adventure be, will it use a pre-written module? What character concept have you envisioned. Of course, nothing is set in stone, and as a solo player, you have the advantage of being able to change anything of the above mid-term, without having to answer to anyone but yourself.

    Session Zero will save you valuable time going forward and reduce wading into uncharted waters. It provides awareness, so that if the game takes you away from your expectations, you can drive it back, if need be.

    A question of balance

    Often the question arises as to how many characters should the player run. There is no right or wrong answer, but it comes down to the Session Zero described above.

    If the ruleset of choice is pulp, then a single hero, may be expected to wade through waves of foes without problem. In that case, a single hero, or at most aided by sidekick, are enough, and the game can be played as is.

    Otherwise, the answer is: don’t do what your protagonist wouldn’t do. If playing a gritty, grim ruleset with a single protagonist, dont rush in blade first to a band of orcs. Choose your fights, or they’ll be short.

    If you will be running an entire party so that game balance is proper, then make sure that you haven’t chosen a very crunchy ruleset that will bring down the game to a halt.

    To crunch or not to crunch

    Some swear by light rulesets for solo RPGs, and some will even claim that heavy rulesets are not soloable.

    I’ll say this here once, crunch-heavy rulesets are soloable.

    Actually I found out that they can be even easier than light rulesets, since they do the narrative heavy lifting through the use of their mechanics, in exchange for more dice rolls and detailed bookkeeping. It all comes down once more to session zero, and what your expectations are from the game.

    Don’t choose a crunch heavy game if you don’t want to count arrows, armour weight, fatigue, or if you expect to finish a combat within 5 real life minutes. Choose it if you’d rather not try to come up with five new ways to describe X hit points worth of damage, and instead have it all described by the ruleset itself.

    Cheating

    In sort, don’t. Solo Roleplaying is very personal. So I can only speak as to what brings me joy. If I start cheating on my own dice rolls then the whole immersion structure starts to crumble. I’m no longer playing, I’m writing a story to my own whim. If I don’t follow the rules I set for myself, then it starts becoming pointless.

    I might choose different rulesets that have meta currency to avoid such fates (hero points, bennies, luck points or whatever they’re called) or a fail forward mechanic and since this is defined beforehand, it doesn’t count nor feel like cheating.

    Getting started

    The beginning of session one, can freeze a solo player like a deer in headlights.
    There’s several approaches all of which are valid.

    Use a stereotypical theme (in a tavern/inn/cantina). That’s an absolutely great place to begin the adventure and ask questions or get supplies and manpower to achieve the protagonists goal.

    Or start in the middle of the action; The rebel is in a shootout with some local imperial law enforcement, and must escape in time.
    The knight is climbing a steep hill that will lead him to an old nest of the monster he’s after, to get some clues.
    The wizard has entered a decaying library in a ruined city of sorcerer-kings.

    These are not definitive, just an easy way to start, and of course it could be anything else that has inspired the player or is described in a prewritten adventure module.
    In general, try to keep a simple concept. The Oracle and random tables/generators have a habit of throwing curveballs to the story and producing extreme results. Having everything else toned down and rationalised brings a balance.

    Metagaming

    Secret doors, trapped chests, cursed magic items, enemies patrolling around the corner, betrayal from a close friend.All these -and even more, when presented in a game by the GM provide a surprise element which can be exhilarating for the players. They are crucial for certain game types such as horror and mystery.All is good then for a table full of players and a good GM, but what happens when you play alone?Metagaming cannot be avoided at all cases, but it can be minimized or controlled.
    Sometimes you get extra output from the oracle or generator that your character wouldn’t know normally.
    There’s several approaches to this depending on what the meta knowledge is and how you want to handle it.

    • Throw the meta knowledge into the bin. Discard it completely and consider it irrelevant. Solves the issue, but not so efficient, as you destroy potentially helpful output that you might need to generate anew in the future).
    • Put it in the subconscious parking lot – to be verified until it’s needed. On a social TTRPG analogy this is similar to the GM pondering on something to be presented later. Until then, it’s like Schrödinger’s cat. It exists, buts it’s nor dead nor alive. Our information has been given, but it’s nor true nor false. The moment we look up into the box, is the moment we ask the oracle for verification. Very resource heavy as you keep information on standby. Similar to flooding your Computers RAM instead of writing the data in the HDD. Could be written down on an index card.
    • Turn it into character belief. The meta knowledge is character knowledge as to what the character believes is true. Call it hunch, cognitive experience, collective unconscious or whatever, but for some reason, the protagonist believes it. Therefore they will act with this prejudice, until it’s verified or not. This could be embarrassing or a lost opportunity if she’s wrong, but it will make the story even more interesting, give a behavioural approach to the protagonist and also give an extra reason for this additional information to exist instead of the player trying to compartmentalise the knowledge away. This is similar on a social TTRPG analogy, to a player having their own strong opinion about something, but the GM hasn’t confirmed it yet.
    • Derive information from this meta knowledge, in a mannerism/inspiration approach. Since derived output can be generated by more than one possible input, it’s a way to use this extra information while providing interesting feedback for the story to progress.
    • Reveal as soon as possible. Thus meta knowledge is true, and becomes character knowledge before becoming a burden.

    Rules and Rulings

    Rules and Rulings is a common conflict in social TTRPGs, but how does it relate in solo Roleplaying?

    In general you can consider that the Rulings are the Oracle answers. In a Traditional Player-driven solo RPG approach, the order of magnitude is as follows.

    Ruleset > Oracle > Player

    What this means, is that if there’s a rule in the RPG rule book that covers the situation at hand, go with this instead of asking the Oracle. Then proceed with any Oracle questions. Hand-rule it yourself only if nothing else makes sense.
    If the ruleset doesn’t cover it, jump ahead to asking the Oracle.
    For example, if there is a perception skill, use it to find out if your character can see anything. If there are only classes and levels, ask The Oracle.

    Also many times these go hand in hand, as you need both to glean the answer, and you need to use them in a sequential order.
    For example, once you have established that your character could have seen something because they are perceptive (successful roll), then ask the Oracle. The fact that your elven scout is eagle-eyed doesn’t mean there is something to see. But if your elf failed to see anything, then you miss your chance to ask the Oracle.

    A guideline to the switch between ruleset and oracle resolutions according to the event type, is described below.

    Action Events
    These are events driven by the player. In those, you roll first the game mechanic. If there is a success then you also ask the Oracle. The actions must be defined specifically. If you search for traps, you can’t ask the Oracle if there is hidden treasure.
    Examples:

    • The dwarf scout searches for secret doors. Roll Success!, Q: Is there a secret door?
    • The halfling thief pickpockets the merchant. Roll Success!, Q: What does the merchant carry?
    • The elf wizard casts a premonition spell. Roll Failure!, Can’t ask the Oracle.

    Reaction Events
    These are events that are triggered as a reaction to the player. If there is a chance for something to happen you ask the Oracle.
    Examples:

    • The warrior opens the chest hidden below the goblin throne. Q: Is it trapped? A: Yes!, Roll Perception to notice it or Dexterity to avoid it, whichever is higher.

    Phrasing Questions

    In order to minimise metagaming, the questions must be phrased in a way that only knowledge accessible to the protagonist can be delivered.
    What they can see, feel, smell or listen. Not what is, thinks or happens elsewhere (time/space).

    In a weird noir horror crime mystery, one may go so far as to ask what a person says.
    For example, instead of asking:
    “Did the neighbour of the victim see anything interesting last night?”
    Ask:
    “Does the neighbour say if they saw anything interesting last night?”

    This allows the player and protagonist to share the same truths, and allow for room for lies and secrets to exist, unbeknownst to the player until the time they’re revealed.

    Interpreting Answers

    The Oracle should answer the bare minimum. Imagine real Oracles. Pythia was asked How can the Greeks defeat the Persians? and her answer was With wooden walls!.Of course you don’t have to be cryptic, but don’t turn the answer into You will defeat the Persians in naval battle in Salamis straits.

    One of the most common oracle styles to closed questions is the Yes..No, But..And approach. I like the Locked Door question to give an example of how this works.

    Q: Is the door locked?

    • Yes, and, it’s barred
    • Yes, it’s locked
    • Yes, but the lock is rusty
    • No, but it’s stuck
    • No, it’s unlocked
    • No, and it’s open ajar

    Sometimes it’s tough to interpret a But..And modifier. If you find yourself spending too much time over it, disregard the modifier and go with a simple Yes..No.

    Answers to Open questions are sometimes the toughest to interpret. Depending on the tool used and the result, it can either fit perfectly or put the player in a slump. Sometimes it helps to ask a closed question to define it better.

    Randomizers and incorrect assumptions

    Other engines may implement random factors to make the story more chaotic and take the wheel off the player’s hands. They may be called with any number of terms, but their use is the same. Whenever you ask a question to the oracle, there’s a chance that something will happen to spin the story.

    Another less often used approach is for the oracle to have a chance that an assumption set in the question phrased is incorrect.

    In the above door example a wrong assumption result would mean that the answer is that there is no door there at all.
    This is an excellent way to take GM command away from the player, but at times it can be the most difficult to interpret, especially if there are several contradictory truths established beforehand. In this case even a re-roll may be necessary.

    Awareness

    Awarenes of what hat one is wearing, while playing, is very useful to the solo player.
    If the question is “what happens next”, then the solo player is wearing the GM hat, and needs to be extra careful.
    If the question is “what do I do next”, then the solo player is wearing the player hat. In this case they need to be careful not to do something stupid that might lead to the protagonist’s demise.

    Secret Oracles & Clocks

    One particular issue related to metagaming is ongoing processes that lead to an event. In case the protagonist is privy to the process and the event, then there’s no problem, but what if they’re secret?

    The dragon has swooped down in the village and the elders offered him a maiden as tribute. A young barbarian slayer has come to the rescue, delving into the dungeon to save the fair lady.
    Dark cultists have gathered in the ancient cavern. The stars are right and the ritual has begun to summon the thing that should not be into the mortal world. Two detectives and a medium have deciphered the ancient texts and are rushing to stop them.
    The bank robbery went awry and it has turned into a hostage situation. The police have surrounded the bank but have no eyes inside. The breach from the special forces is about to begin.
    The chaos space troopers have broken into the nuclear fission reactor of the metropolis and are setting it up to meltdown while at the same time they prepare the scientists for ritualistic sacrifice to their deities. Orbital drop from imperial space troopers is imminent.

    What will the protagonists encounter once they reach the final scene?

    Will the barbarian have slaughtered scores of enemies to find the dragon’s belly full or will he find a maiden ready to fall in his arms?
    Will the detective reach the grand chamber to encounter an ancient horror ending all life on earth, or will they find the cultists still chanting?
    Will the special forces breach the bank to find the treasury wide open, hostages dead or will they find the robbers still considering their options, surprised from the assault?
    Will the imperial space troopers save the scientists and lose everything in a huge meltdown or will they save the city, but find them mutilated? Will they split their forces and risk it all?

    All these questions are solved either arbitrarily, by the GM, or in solo RPGs by asking the Oracle, or through another tool, which is the Clocks.

    A clock can be fixed, e.g. 10 in-game minutes, perchance, e.g. roll 19+ on 1d20, variable, e.g. roll 20+ on 1d20+number of turns, and/or modifiable based on certain events.

    In all cases it suffers from a serious metagaming issue. The moment the clock is triggered, the player knows it and has no motivation to keep going on.
    That isn’t a problem when the clock is fixed in-story as well, e.g. the space pirates will ‘space’ one prisoner every 5 minutes unless they are given the set amount of ransom. The player knows and the character knows.
    What about cases such as the examples above? Let’s say the barbarian is in the second dungeon room and the event is triggered. He won’t get his reward if the maiden is killed. Why go on? revenge only. Suddenly an interesting story has become a chore.
    That’s the issue to tackle here, with the use of Secret Clocks.

    A Secret Clock & Oracle is one that is rolled, but you don’t know the result until such time as when you reveal the event. What is important is that a timetick (a round, turn, minute, week or whatever is suitable) is predefined, and each timetick that passes triggers a question to the oracle.

    There are three approaches:

    • Use a card-driven oracle, where the cards are drawn face down, at every timetick
    • Roll the oracle dice under an opaque cup or into a box, every timetick
    • Roll the oracle dice at the revelation of the event, once for each timetick

    A fair amount of balance is needed to not make it overly difficult, especially when rolling dice. The cards-drawn approach as it keeps things balanced, and there’s this tangible feeling of the hidden answer in front of you. The hidden dice approach works as well, but depending on the case, one might need a fair amount of dice. The roll when revealed approach misses the tangible feeling of the hidden answer.

    Hooks

    Chekhov’s gun (Chekhov’s rifle, Russian: Чеховское ружьё) is a dramatic principle that states that every element in a story must be necessary, and irrelevant elements should be removed. Elements should not appear to make “false promises” by never coming into play.

    But still, we’re playing a game, so there is need of some ‘false promises’ to keep the suspense and possibility of failure in play.
    That’s where ‘Hooks’ come in. Places where the story threads can hook into each other to create the overarching plot. But since they’re hooks, instead of knots, they may fail to grab onto each other and become dead ends.
    Until the time that the Oracle makes the Hooks grab onto the Threads, it’s all fluid.

    How does it work? It mainly has to do with inactive, but not dead, story threads.
    Say the protagonist fought a thug and let them live. Perhaps this thug can appear again in the future and may even evolve to be a nemesis. But they will never be, unless the Player puts them back again in the story.
    But to keep this from going against the concept of Player driven play, what needs to happen is that at the next time when the thug could be reintroduced, the Oracle is asked.

    If the Oracle verifies the existence of the thug, then the Hook, has caught to the thread, if not, it flows away until there’s an occasion when they can be reintroduced.

    Prewritten adventurer modules

    The main approach of playing a prewritten adventure module solo, is to read it first. Enjoy it, leave nothing hidden, and then let the oracle take over.

    Each time that you have a new scene, encounter or location, ask the oracle if it is modified. Depending on the answer, alter it accordingly, using the tools in your disposal.

    This approach allows you both to enjoy reading the work, immersing yourself in the story, but still, allowing yourself be surprised.

    As a side note, this method can be used to almost everything you consider “fixed” in your world. A myth, a historical event, a typical tavern, a town guard. Using this, you can spice up a relatively bland day in your adventurer’s life, but without losing the player perspective.

    Zoom in/out, Speed up/down

    This is one of the points where you have to put on your GM hat and ask yourself how much detail you want.

    You can take command of the game and zoom out or speed up, and then ask a simple question “does anything interesting happen?”
    If it’s a positive answer, then drill down on the details, otherwise, skip through the boring stuff.

    This can be combined with skill rolls of the ruleset as appropriate.

    For example if nothing interesting happens, then you can make a simple Investigation skill roll to see if your character learns anything new in town. Or if you just arrived in a city and want to buy some things from the merchant, and do not wish to haggle, just buy them, without needing to play out the scene.

    Solo engines and tools

    What follows is a list, which is by no means exhaustive.

    MUNE, a simple complete Oracle, and Engine, that is a great way to get started in solo Roleplaying.

    Mythic GME, a full-fledge Oracle and Engine, complete with examples. May be the most popular of the engines at the moment. A great read, if not used as is. I prefer the Mythic Variations 2 for running Mythic, and also, for expanded reading, the first Mythic Variations.

    CRGE, an Oracle and Engine, while a bit cumbersome to use, it’s a great read.

    UNE, an NPC generator. Can generate NPCs, motivations, and helps to set up discussions.

    BOLD, a waylays and background story generator, and a connections mechanic that can be used to generate intra-party banter.

    Recluse a simple Oracle that uses the mechanic of false presuppositions.

    The Terrain Randomizer, a tool that generates interesting terrain for your scenes.

    Scarlet Heroes, a full fledged RPG and solo Engine, combined in one. Its intuitive mini-game mechanics are borderline on the RPG/boardgame style.

    Ironsworn, a full fledged RPG and solo Engine, combined in one. An excellent approach to solo roleplaying.

    Motif Story Engine, another solo engine, with very interesting concepts. Is designed with ‘patches’ that you choose, for a solo engine to your liking.

    Motif Character Engine, apart from character emulation, also provides player emulation, for a solo GM experience. Also with patches.

    Blade and Lockpick, a solo game engine and ruleset in one. Allows easy running of a group of characters.

    Freeform Universal, and RPG so simple and lightweight, using a mechanic that feels almost like a solo Oracle, that is just ready to be soloed.

     
    • Bob 3:40 am on August 27, 2022 Permalink | Reply

      I just want to thank you for the yeoman’s work you do. I enjoy every post and this one was another gem and great for the hobby. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

      • giorgis 11:32 am on August 27, 2022 Permalink | Reply

        I’m so glad that you like them.
        Thank you so much for the kind words!
        Cheers!

        Like

  • giorgis 1:50 pm on August 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    To Tharbad. Ep02 

    Day 28, Hithui, 4th Watch

    Weather (11) stays the same.
    Encounter: 4: No encounter

    Along with 3rd watch they walked 15 miles south. They camp at a crossroads.

    Day 28, Hithui, 5th Watch

    Weather (12) becomes Freezing. The sky is overcast, but the snowfall stops. Winds are a gale.
    Encounter: 2: No encounter

    Day 28, Hithui, 6th Watch

    Weather (12) stays the same.
    Encounter: 17: No encounter

    Day 29, Hithui, 1st Watch

    Weather (14) becomes Cold, sky is cloudy. Winds turn SE and it’s windy.
    Encounter: 1: No encounter

    Day 29, Hithui, 2nd Watch

    Weather (14) stays the same.
    Encounter: 5: No encounter

    Day 29, Hithui, 3rd Watch

    Weather (14) stays the same. Buts it’s cool now since it’s daylight.
    Encounter: 2: No encounter

    They move further south 10 miles.

    Day 29, Hithui, 4th Watch

    Weather (15) is cool. Sky is clear. Winds are SE gale.
    Encounter: 15: No encounter

    They move further south 10 miles and camp next to the woods.

    Day 29, Hithui, 5th Watch

    Weather (16) is Cold, sky is cloudy. There’s light rain. Winds are windy.
    Encounter: 17: No encounter

    Day 29, Hithui, 6th Watch

    Weather (17) is Freezing, sky is Overcast. There’s snowfall. Winds are NW Gale.
    Encounter: 18: No encounter

    Day 30, Hithui, 1st Watch

    Weather (18) is Cold, sky is overcast. There’s snow flurries. Winds are SW windy.
    Encounter: 12: No encounter

    Day 30, Hithui, 2nd Watch

    Weather (19) is Cold, sky is cloudy. Winds are a breeze.
    Encounter: 2: No encounter

    Day 30, Hithui, 3rd Watch

    Weather (19) stays the same.
    Encounter: 1: No encounter

    They move 10 more miles south.

    Day 30, Hithui, 4th Watch

    Weather (19) stays the same.
    Encounter: 16: No encounter

    They move 10 more miles south.
    The maps I follow are not printed, and I’m not certain about my counting. Since I’m not sure if they reach Fennas Drunin, I’ll ask the Oracle.

    Q: Do they reach Fennas Drunin?
    A: Yes, and, it’s still daylight when they arrive. Gates are open.

    Two more winter days on the road, and Leówyn sets eyes upon civilisation.
    At the point where the rivers Mitheithel and Bruinen meet, there is a town. A big gated wall protects the approach from the land. ‘Could this be Tharbad?’ Leówyn wonders. But it can’t be they still have ways to go. She trots back to the caravan.
    “Town ahead, at the fork of two rivers.” She shouts at Wyny.
    “That’s Fennas Drunin”. He yells, and smiles.

    Q: Do the gate guards let them through?
    A: Yes, but they must pay tolls.
    6.25d in total. 1d for Leówyn.

    At the gates, the guards stop them.
    “We’re traders!” Wyny shouts so they can listen. “Weary from the road. Attacked by bandits.”
    The guards look at them carefully. They don’t feel any pity. “Even so, you must pay the toll to enter the city for trade. 1 farthing each man afoot, 1 farthing for the cart, 1 penny for each horse.”
    Unhappy, Wyny complies with the demand. Unsure if the money will end up in the town coffers or the guards pockets.

    First things first, I need to see if they find some lodgings. Then Leówyn will have some alone time.
    Let’s see if Leówyn can gather some information about what inn is the best.

    Leówyn: Intrigue: 80: CF
    They’ll go to the most wild inn, “The River’s Edge”
    Q: Do they find lodgings at the inn?
    A: Yes, and with separate bedding.

    Leówyn asks around what’s the best lodging in town, and the locals point her to “The River’s Edge”. After talking to the innkeeper, they arrange lodgings for the entire caravan.
    Wyny lets everyone know that they’re to move out in the morning.

    Q: Does the caravan agree to move out so soon? (Unlikely)
    A: Yes

    None of them seems to mind. Leówyn finds it a bit odd that they don’t ask for more rest, especially considering that it’s New Year’s Eve tomorrow.

    I want to purchase better armor for Leówyn. And, speaking of which, I need to calculate her Encumbrance penalty.

    Endurance: 13
    Total Weight: 44,6 (Weapons 12, Armor 27.6)
    I’m also adding the clothing. Clothing also provides some protection.
    Leather Calf Boots 3.2
    Cloth Surcoat 5.3
    Cloak, Shirt, Pants (2,1,1)
    Final total weight: 52.1

    Encumbrance penalty: 4
    This means that in a fight she’ll have a -20 to her combat skill rolls!
    I should reconsider getting her more armour.
    Right now with the +15 Attack Bonus of her Broadsword and the +20 Defense Bonus of her Round shield, it’s barely acceptable.
    Also I decided that she isn’t carrying the morningstar, but has it on her saddle bag.

    She’ll go to the weaponcrafter.
    Let’s see if she has any significant encounter on the way there: 12: No encounter
    Q: Does the weaponcrafter have any kurbul vambraces and leather gauntlets for her to buy?
    A: Yes
    For a cost of 41d, she buys them.

    Walking around in the damp cold river town, she locates the “Iron Anvil”. A smithy run by dwarf smiths. She purchases some cured leather vambraces and a pair of leather gloves, before walking around the town a bit further.

    I’ll have her ask about the hobbit they met, at the town guard. See if she can get any more information.

    Leówyn: Intrigue: 24: MS
    Q: Does the town guard know anything about Eryel?
    A: Yes, but, their information is old.
    Q: Is she a murderer?
    A: Yes, and Intervention. 2: Entity Positive.
    Entity (Leówyn, Wyny, Eryel, Town Guard): Town Guard.
    Portents from Mythic: Interestingly Defeated, Oppress Fame
    So a band of enemies has been defeated.
    Q: Was Eryel a part of this band?
    A: Yes

    She goes back to the gatekeep and talks to the guards.
    “Do you have a list of wanted persons in the area? I had a meeting with a rather nefarious hobbit lady.” She asks.
    “I’d have laughed at your face talking about nefarious hobbit ladies, if that weren’t oddly specific.” The guard answers. “Her name’s Eryel. She’s wanted for murder. She’s joined some lowlifes that prey on travellers in the Angle. Where did you meet her?”
    “About a score of miles south of the great east road, on the road that leads here. It was only a couple days ago.” Leówyn says.
    As they talk, they’re interrupted by noise. Guards bringing in several people tied in ropes, leading them to the dungeon.
    “We defeated them!”. The guard briefs his friend. “We disguised ourselves as commoners and they fell for it. Unfortunately for our disguise to work we had to do away with most horses and some of them fled on foot. Scattered in all the directions. Their notoriety is crushed! Bunch of cowards.”


    ‘I spent a long time pondering on Eryel and her introduction to the party.
    I’m trying to introduce the concept of Chekhov’s Gun, but not forcefully.

    Chekhov’s gun (Chekhov’s rifle, Russian: Чеховское ружьё) is a dramatic principle that states that every element in a story must be necessary, and irrelevant elements should be removed. Elements should not appear to make “false promises” by never coming into play.

    But still, I’m playing a game. I need some ‘false promises’ to keep the suspense and possibility of failure in play.
    So what I want to do, is introduce ‘Oracle Hooks’. Places where the story threads can hook into each other to create the overarching plot. But since they’re hooks, instead of knots, they may fail to grab onto each other and become dead ends.

    So let’s see what I have in mind. Eryel is my Chekhov’s Gun. She’s a new thread, that was delivered to my story through a random significant encounter.
    She may become a ‘False Promise’ but until that happens, I’ll try to ‘Hook’ it to the rest of the story.
    Her appearance already triggered the death of Enryn. That has significant consequences on the caravan’s way forward, but this consists more of a random event that hinders the current objective, than a Chekhov’s Gun.
    What I’m trying to do, to the extent possible, is introduce the possibility that she’s had dealings with Argulf’s murderer.
    Already I had Leówyn go ask the town guard about her.
    Then what else I did which made sense, was have some bandits scatter as did Eryel. That’s why they met her. She’s probably been in the fight and fled.
    So, what about Argulf’s murderer. I’m turning a blind eye about some probabilities here. Since I took Leówyn out of her story (she’s supposed to be riding east from Rohan to Gondor when the story begins, but I took her to Rhudaur) with the excuse of orc raids pushing her to the North, maybe that’s what happened to her target as well. Maybe Argulf’s murderer fled Gondor (most likely), to get to Rohan before news of his crime spread, and that’s when the orc raids pushed him North as well.
    There he could have joined another band of misfits, commiting to a life of crime from then on.
    These are the possibilities that go around in my thoughts, and Leówyn’s as well. These are the ‘Hooks’. Until the time that the Oracle makes the Hooks grab onto the Threads, it’s all fluid.
    So where can I place these Hooks?

    • The town guard may know of a Rohir bandit
    • A Rohir bandit may have been caught
    • A Rohir bandit may be among those who escaped

    This bandit may or may not be Argulf’s murderer, and if not he may or may not have met Argulf’s murderer.
    That’s how I’m thinking of implementing Chekhov’s Gun, from an RPG perspective.

    Just to make myself clear, not every random significant encounter is a Hook. Some of them are just obstacles, or exist merely to set the theme.
    For example whereas the Hillman encounters (both in the Last Bridge Inn) and the wilderness, and the Bali Redhelm encounter, could and should have been Hooks, the encounter with the Patrol is not right now. The encounter with the Nazgûl is a category on its own. Due to its power, its theme-setting and maybe a new thread starter. So it can be a Hook, if the current main story is resolved.

    So intermission over, back to my running story.


    “Were there any Rohirim with the bandits?”, Leówyn asks the new guard, her worry evident all over her face.

    Q: Were there?
    A: Yes
    Q: Are they captured?
    A: No
    Q: Are they dead?
    A: Yes
    Q: More than one?
    A: Yes. 2d6, disadvantage: 5 of them.

    So the oracle answers were plain Yes/No, so I had to drill down on them.

    The guard eyes her. He doesn’t know what answer she’s looking for. As he recognises her for Rohir.
    “Yes. There were a handful. They’re the ones who stood and fought. You’re brave people. I’d keep your sword in your hilt, unless you want to meet their fate in the afterworld.” He answers and puffs his chest, puts his hand on the hilt, to intimidate her.
    “No, you don’t understand. A sorry excuse for a Rohirim, murdered my beloved Argulf. I’m hunting him down. Could he be among the dead?” She says softly.

    Q: Did they bring the bodies here?
    A: No

    “You’d have to ride out to the Dunnish track. That’s where we left them for all to see. Rohirim bandits in the Dunnish track. Huh.” He talks to her and himself.
    “Did you bring back their loot? Maybe? He’d have the locket I gave my beloved. He killed him for this.” She asks.

    Q: Did they bring the loot?
    A: False Presupposition. There was no loot.

    “They had no loot. Eh, sometimes the men help themselves to the belongings of the dead thugs. It’s not like they’ll miss them. But I doubt you’ll find anyone willing to talk about it freely.” He answers.

    This is a big point for Leówyn. She’s willing to give it all to find out.

    “Ask your men. I’m willing to pay double its price if you find it. And if you let me talk to the man who has it.” She proposes.

    Leówyn: Rhetoric: 76: MF

    “As I said, the men won’t talk about it freely.” The guard replies.
    Leówyn puts a shilling worth of pennies on the table.
    “Here’s a shilling for your trouble. And if you let me talk to the bandits. Another shilling for you if the locket is found.” She tries her best.

    Leówyn: Rhetoric: 92: MF

    The guard doesn’t take the money.
    “You have trouble hearing? I said no!” He replies, annoyed. “You wanna go find the bodies of the bandits, be my guest, but there’s no talking to the prisoners, nor annoying the honest men of the guard. Begone.”
    Leówyn knows when she’s pushed her luck. She puts her money back in her pouch and leaves.

    She’ll return to the inn.
    Encounter: 1: No encounter

    Q: Has Wyny hired any additional guards?
    A: No
    Q: Has he bought another cart?
    A: No
    Q: Is everything as expected at the inn?
    A: Yes
    Q: Does the night pass by uneventful?
    A: No, but, nothing dangerous happens
    Q: Is is a guard to talk to her?
    A: No
    Portent: Loudly Messy, Trust Normal
    Ah so it’s quite simple. Since Leówyn made the mistake of booking lodgings at the most rowdy inn, they can’t get a good nights sleep due to patrons being loud and messy, but it’s the normal everyday business of the River’s Edge.

    Leówyn returns to the River’s Edge inn, and finds her bedding. It’s not comfortable and the rooms are next to the main hall, where partying drunks sing and yell until the morning.

    Day 31st, Hithui

    Come breakfast time she approaches Wyny.
    “Have you covered up your casualties in men and supplies?” She asks.
    He looks at her sideways.
    “Found any more guards? Maybe a second cart to relieve the horses and men of their burden?” She insists.
    “No, I haven’t. What’s it to you? Why the sudden interest? No one else has complained.” Wyny responds.
    Leówyn is no longer torn to her feelings. This decision is clear to her. The caravan master seems like a very selfish man.
    “You should take my advice. Can’t go like this to Tharbad. Or even better hire a barge downriver.” She pauses for a moment. “I’m leaving.”

    Q: Is he angry?
    A: No

    In a strict business way he responds to her. “Then our business is concluded. Since you voided our deal, you won’t get any pay for your work.” He waits patiently for answer.
    Leówyn scoffs, and takes her leave.

    She will try to get some information about the bandit prisoners. Will there be a public punishment?

    Q: Is there publicly available information?
    A: Yes
    So an Intrigue roll won’t be necessary.
    Q: Will there be a public punishment?
    A: False Presupposition. So there is publicly available information, but it only relates to the defeat of the bandit group.
    Donjon: the bandits are known as “Bely’s Fangs”.
    So the intrigue roll is necessary.
    Leówyn: Intrigue: 6: MS.
    Q: Will there be a public punishment?
    A: No. Random Event.
    Excitedly Familiar.
    Dispute Mundane.

    She hasn’t walked two steps out of the inn, when she hears a boy yell.
    “Bely has been defanged! Bely’s Fangs are no more! Thanks to the brave work of Thorlavan! Travel will be safe in the new year!” The town crier shouts.
    “Hey you!” She shouts to him back. “Will we get to see a hanging?”
    The boy startled, pauses for a second. “Dunno mylady. What I know is they’re either dead or in the dungeon! They’ll trouble us no more!” He answers and goes back to his task of telling the people of Fennas Drunin not to be afraid of Bely’s Fangs no more.
    With that in mind, she goes back to the inn.
    She carefully places the bait so that the conversation will begin.
    “I sure hope we’ll see a hanging. Make sure all of them are dead. Rotten scum.” She tells the innkeeper, just loud enough so that the patrons nearby can hear her.
    Soon the chatter begins, and she overhears just what she needs. “…my nephew in the guard said they’ll keep them, see if there’s any bounty for any of them in Tharbad, gain some extra coin if possible…”
    She turns to walk away. She has enough time to ride the Dunnish track and back before the guard clears out with Tharbad.
    But as she does, she bumps onto a big burly man.
    “You!” He says as he looks at her. It’s the hillman who beat her back at the Last Bridge inn.

    Q: Does he start a fight?
    A: No. He taunts her again.

    “Came to have another beating? Rohirim shield maiden?” He laughs at her face, spit drops flying all over.

    Q: Is he drunk?
    A: No, and he’s very sober.

    I’m not sure if Leówyn will start a fight now.
    Q: Does Leówyn fight again?
    A: Yes, and without warning.

    I’ll give her a free Turn.

    Turn 0

    Leówyn: Unarmed: Leg: 69: MF

    Once more Leówyn lets anger take hold of her. She swings her leg in a sidekick but misses and hits a barstool.

    Turn 1

    Leówyn has higher Initiative than the Thug.

    Leówyn Attack Declaration
    Thug Defense Declaration: Counterstrike
    Leówyn: Unarmed: Knee: 15: CS
    Thug: Unarmed: Hand: 59: MF
    Strike is A3. Location is: 54: Thorax: Strike Impact: 8+1-2=7: S2 Serious Fracture.
    Shock Roll: 8/13: Not shocked.

    Thug Attack Declaration
    Leówyn Defense Declaration: Dodge
    Thug: Unarmed: Hand: 79: MF
    Leówyn: Unarmed: Hand: 28: MS
    Stand-off

    Now the hillman smirks and raises his fists ready to fight her. She follows with a knee strike to his chest, as he counterstrikes at the same time with a right jab. She avoids the attack, grabs his left shoulder and her knee lands at his ribs, fracturing them.
    The hillman loses his breath for but a moment as he follows with a left jab, which Leówyn gracefully dodges.

    Turn 2

    Leówyn Attack Declaration
    Thug Defense Declaration: Block
    Leówyn: Unarmed: Leg: 74: MF
    Thug: Unarmed: Hand: 64: MF
    Block: A2 on Leówyn’s leg, and on Thugs Hand.
    A2 on Thug: 4: M1 Minor Bruise on Hand.
    Shock Roll: 9/13: No shock
    A2 on Leówyn: 6-2: M1 Minor Bruise on Calf.

    Thug Attack Declaration
    Leówyn Defense Declaration: Dodge
    Thug: Unarmed: Hand: 45: CF
    Leówyn: Unarmed: Hand: 55: CS
    DTA

    DTA:
    Leówyn Attack Declaration
    Thug Defense Declaration: Dodge
    Leówyn: Unarmed: Leg: 48: MF
    Thug: Unarmed: Hand: 95: CF
    Defender Stumble: 13/11: Stumble: Falls Prone

    Leówyn has wiped the smirk off the hill and face, and she goes in with a front kick which he tried to block with a fist. The leg is stronger than a fist though, and he bruises his hand as much as Leówyn bruises her calf.
    He shouts and goes with a right jab, which Leówyn dodges by stepping to the side. She tries to sidekick him, but hits thin air. On his attempt to dodge it, he stumbles on a low table, and falls, face down to the floor.

    Turn 3

    Leówyn Attack Declaration
    Thug Defense Declaration: Dodge
    Leówyn: Unarmed: Leg: 54: MS
    Thug: Unarmed: Hand: 79: MF
    Strike is A1. Location is: 33: Upper Arm. Impact: 6+1-2=5. M1 Minor Bruise.
    Shock Roll: 16/13: Unconscious.

    As his opponent is still down, she kicks him hard on his upper arm. He groans and moans, and stops moving from all the beating.
    “And stay down!” She says, knowing he can’t respond.

    Q: Do the inn patrons return to their business? (Likely)
    A: Yes. Random Event. Entity Positive (Leówyn, Hillman, Wyny): Leówyn.
    Portent: Fortunately Exotic, Adversity Attention.
    My interpretation is that the fellow clients enjoyed the show, and she has a crowd.

    “To the shield-maiden!” A man raises his tankard up and the others follow and cheer.
    A couple strong armed fellows pick up the stunned hillman and throw him outside, in the stables.
    She smiles. Revenge is a cold bitch. The slight bruise on her leg actually feels good. She drinks an ale she’s been treated.
    “Tell us your name!” Shouts another one.
    “Leówyn” she answers and they all cheer her name.
    “Who’s this?” She asks.

    Donjon: Rirde.

    “I thought you knew! Seems like you’ve had some past the two of you. That’s Rirde. He used to be a tough macho hillman.”

    Q: Do we have a backstory?
    A: No

    “I’d like to think our story is now over.” Leówyn adds. She spends some time in the Rivers Edge before heading out.
    She purchases two weeks worth of rations before riding out towards the Dunnish track.


    Bookkeeping

    Injuries: M1 Minor Bruise on Right Calf
    Load: 54.2
    Encumbrance Penalty: 4
    She spent 52.5d, so she now has 2 pounds, 9 shillings and 3 pennies.


    Session Summary

    I’m exploring different avenues on how to handle the story and meta mechanics during solo play, and I’m enjoying it.
    I kinda wanted a fight to happen in this session, and dunno if I forced it subconsciously, but nonetheless I wasn’t disappointed.
    Hârnmaster really shines in delivering combat situations. I could see the the fight unfolding before my imagination, with minimal effort.

    Now as to the story, there’s a solid chance that Leówyn will find resolution. In that case, she might return to her friends in the Trollshaws. If not, she will head south towards Gondor, alone.

     
  • giorgis 10:59 pm on August 20, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    To Tharbad. Ep01 

    With no minis available during travel time to play Five Leagues from the Borderlands, I went back to Solo RPGs.
    I’ve decided to continue on Leowyn’s adventure from the Last Inn to Tharbad with the caravan. Putting the knowledge from my several plays of A Call to Glory, to use, I decided to go forward with Harnmaster as a system.
    To do this I’ll have to convert Leowyn to the Harnmaster system.

    For Harnmaster I will first try to convert the stat to the closest, and then fill in the rest of the stats with average values, or whatever makes sense.

    Appearance Attributes

    Height: 65″
    Frame: 8 (light)
    Weight: 130lbs/5
    Comeliness: 15

    Physical Attributes

    Strength: 15
    Stamina: 14
    Dexterity: 15
    Agility: 17
    Eyesight: 13
    Hearing: 9
    Smell: 11
    Voice: 10

    Personality Attributes

    Intelligence: 13
    Aura: 18
    Will: 11
    Morality: 11 (Law Abiding)

    Occupation

    Occupation: Soldier/Huscarl/LH
    Initiative/5, Foraging/4, Survival/4, Heraldry/2,
    Physician/2, Weaponcraft/2
    Riding/6, Initiative/6, Lance/6, Broadsword/5, Dagger/5,
    Roundshield/5, Shorkana/4, Seamanship/3, Piloting/2

    Optional Military:
    Cookery/4, Engineer/2, Embalming/2,
    Fishing/4, Fletching/2, Hidework/3,
    Horsecraft/2, Law/2, Masonry/2,
    Metalcraft/2

    Parents: Herdsman: Animalcraft/4, Tracking/4, Survival/4, Weatherlore/4

    CLIMBING (16): 64
    JUMPING (16): 64
    STEALTH (12): 36
    THROWING (14): 56
    AWARENESS (11): 44
    INTRIGUE (14): 42
    ORATORY (13): 26
    RHETORIC (11): 33
    SINGING (10): 30
    INITIATIVE (13): 65
    UNARMED (16): 64
    Foraging (13): 52
    Survival (14): 56
    Heraldry (13): 26
    Physician (14): 28
    Weaponcraft (14): 28
    Riding (14): 84
    Lance (15): 90
    Broadsword (15): 75
    Dagger (14): 70
    Roundshield (15): 75
    Shorkana (15): 60
    Seamanship (16): 48
    Piloting (14): 28
    Animalcraft (13): 26
    Cookery (12): 48
    Bow (14): 56
    Weatherlore (12): 36

    Equipment

    Chain Armor -> Mail Byrnie
    Steel Helm -> Plate 3/4 Helm
    Shield +20DB -> Round
    Broadsword
    Morningstar +5
    Composite Bow -> Hartbow
    35 arrows
    Dagger
    Horse
    Clothes & Personal Effects
    Belt Pouch (with money, Flint & Steel) _ 1 gp, 19 sp, 31 bp, 5 cp 24 tp
    (Added up her share of the party pool plus 1 gp I forgot to award them for saving the cart and Ambald, to her personal pool).

    On a rough conversion scale it seems that each MERP bp is about 2 Hârnic silver pennies, so that would mean that Leowyn has about 643 pennies and 2 farthings, a hefty amount. This is 2 pounds, 13 shillings, 7 pennies and 2 farthings.

    The equipment was converted either at 1:1 or what was closest that made more sense.
    The Hartbow is the elvish composite bow, but since MERP was more high fantasy than Hârn or Tolkien’s Middle Earth, I went along with it. I chose the 3/4 Plate Helm as the Rohir Steel Helm. Finally I decided that the Mail Byrnie is the equivalent to Chain Armor, based on the weight of each armor type. What worries me though is that Hârnmaster is way more gritty and realistic with regards to armor and wounds when compared to MERP, and usually armor is layered to cover many areas. The way this works right now, means that Leówyn is vulnerable at many unarmoured spots. I’m going along with it, and may have to purchase some armor to cover these at Tharbad, provided she survives that long.

    Saddlebag (Bedroll, Lockpick kit, 25′ superior rope, 9 torches, waterskin, rations).

    Advancement

    I went through the previous actual play reports and identified which situations justified an Experience roll, and proceeded to roll these. To each roll, the Skill Base is added, and if it’s greater than the Mastery Level of the Skill, its increased by 1.
    The results per skill are as follows:

    Broadsword: 7 rolls: 51,87,16,14,57,34,54: 1 increase (76)
    Roundshield: 6 rolls: 80,74,32,21,23,80: 3 increases (78)
    Bow: 1 roll: 48: –
    Unarmed: 1 roll: 79: 1 increase (65)
    Climbing: 1 roll: 5: –
    Jumping: 1 roll: 68: 1 increase (65)
    Stealth: 4 rolls: 37,93,16,28: 3 increases (39)
    Initiative: 8 rolls: 63,17,37,93,44,54,86,55: 3 increases (68)
    Riding: 1 roll: 13: –

    Also as soon as the month changes, we’ll have 30 Skill Maintenance Points to spend, and as far as I recall, we’re only a few days away (it’s Hithui 26 when they ride out).

    The Story

    So a short recap:
    Leówyn split from the party and has joined a Caravan heading south to Tharbad. She is paid 5f per day.
    The caravan comprises of two carts drawn by a horse each, another guard called Enryn, Wyny the Caravan Master, Ambald the Teamster, Suse the Healer, and three hands, Berter, Eram, Sige. They have a spare horse that belonged to the downed guard Hreodhelm whose place Leówyn took.
    Once they reach Tharbad she’ll probably look for a way to continue towards Gondor, to complete her personal task to get revenge from her lover’s killer.
    Something that bothers me is that Leówyn first met the caravan outside of Bree on the East-West road. If they were meant for Tharbad then it’s most likely that they should have been on the Andrath Greenway. Maybe there’s a story there. It could be something as simple as avoiding a certain guard, or maybe something more foul. I’ll keep this as a possible thread.
    Doing a quick count, it seems that Tharbad is 300 miles if they keep east, and go south in the Angle, to cross a bridge and keep south next to Mitheithel in order to stay on trails that the cart can traverse.


    Day 26, Hithui, 3rd Watch

    Weather (8) is cold, sky is overcast, winds are breezy and there’s sleet flurries.

    Q: Has the caravan crew repaired the broken cart? (Likely)
    A: No, and it’s not possible to repair it with the tools at hand. They’d need to be in a town or village with a carpenter.
    Q: Can the goods fit on the other cart?
    A: No, but, they can be spread amongst the horses and crew. The crew becomes baggage crew.

    The axle of the cart has been split in half. With no carpenter nearby for miles, the crew carries the goods to the other cart. They load Hreodhelm’s horse and the broken cart horse with as much as they can carry without tiring them, and split the rest amongst them. It’s going to be a slow march south.

    Encounter: 2: No encounter.
    10 miles east.

    Day 26, Hithui, 4th Watch

    Weather (10) is cold, sky is overcast, winds are a gale and there’s snow furries.

    Encounter: 8: No encounter.
    10 miles east. Reached crossroads to south.

    Day 26, Hithui, 5th Watch

    Weather (9) is cool, sky is overcast, winds are windy and there’s light rain.

    Encounter: 1: No encounter.
    Camped.

    Day 26, Hithui, 6th Watch

    Weather (9) is cool, sky is overcast, winds are windy and there’s light rain.

    Encounter: 9: No encounter.
    Camped.

    Day 27, Hithui, 1st Watch

    Weather (8) is cold, sky is overcast, winds are breeze and there’s sleet flurries.

    Encounter: 1: No encounter.
    Camped.

    Day 27, Hithui, 2nd Watch

    Weather (9) is cool, sky is overcast, winds are a gale and there’s light rain.

    Encounter: 13: No encounter.
    Camped.

    Day 27, Hithui, 3rd Watch

    Weather (10) is cold, sky is overcast, winds are a gale and there’s sleet flurries.

    Encounter: 2: No encounter.
    Moved South 10 miles.

    Day 27, Hithui, 4th Watch

    Weather (10) stays the same.

    Encounter: 7: No encounter.
    Moved South 10 miles.

    They went through some ruins.
    Q: Is there anything interesting in the ruins?
    A: No, but they didn’t get close enough.

    Day 27, Hithui, 5th Watch

    Weather (10) stays the same.

    Encounter: 1: No encounter.
    Camped.

    Day 27, Hithui, 6th Watch

    Weather (10) stays the same.

    Encounter: 19: 66: Reroll as Highway: 70: Reroll as Wilderness/Rural: 10: Farmer: 67: Villein/Wealthy Thrall: 45: At Leisure (non-work related): 92: Escaping the law/service.
    Attitude: 47: indifferent

    Time: 4/8: 10 pm.

    Donjon: Eryel: Female Halfling Peasant, Evil. Eryel has copper hair and dark green eyes, and an unusual scar on her face. She wears well-made clothing and a wooden holy symbol. Eryel has a raven named Donny.

    Q: Is Leówyn at watch?
    A: Yes

    Leówyn: Awareness: 40: CS
    Eryel: Awareness: 44: MS

    Leówyn detects Eryel first.


    Now here’s a thought on how to work with meta knowledge on the fly.
    First I need to split Character knowledge and Player (meta) knowledge. There’s also Derived knowledge that my character may deduct easily.

    Character knowledge: Female, Hobbit. Indifferent. She has copper hair and dark green eyes, and an unusual scar on her face. She wears well-made clothing and a wooden holy symbol.
    All the above are easily discernible. One can see them at first glance. So since these are given by the random tables and generators, I consider them as true.

    Derived knowledge: Farmer, Villein/Wealthy Thrall. Peasant.
    These can be deducted within moments, or by careful observation. The combination of the clothing style and their quality, along with the fact that it’s a hobbit living at the angle, means she’s a farmer quite high in the class. It’s quite likely she could even be a freeman or yeoman, therefore I’m keeping the derived knowledge results as highly likely. They may or may not need verification by the oracle. Essentially this is meta knowledge that is almost real, waiting to become character knowledge.

    Meta knowledge: Escaping the law/service, Evil, name is Eryel, she has a raven named Donny.
    None of these could be easily known to the Character. Unless Eryel gives this information or something extraordinary happens to reveal it, this all is in the sphere of imagination. The hobbit’s name could be Eryel or not, she could have a raven or not, but most importantly there’s no way to say she’s evil or that she’s escaping the law/service. So, the moment they come up, these may need to be verified by an Oracle if they’re story relevant.
    With regards to the name’s relevance to the story, If the hobbit gives a name it is going to be Eryel, but it may or may not be true.
    With regards to the rest, they’re story relevant, but will need to be verified.

    Now there’s two ways I can go about this meta knowledge.
    The first approach is to disregard it until it comes up. Until then, it’s like Schrödinger’s cat. It exists, buts it’s nor dead nor alive. Our information has been given, but it’s nor true nor false. The moment we look up into the box, is the moment we ask the oracle for verification. That’s mostly how I’ve dealt with meta knowledge given to me until now in my solo plays. Also that’s the main concept on how to solo play prewritten modules.
    The second approach is the prejudice approach. The meta knowledge is character knowledge as to what the character believes is true. Call it hunch, cognitive experience, collective unconscious or whatever, but for some reason, my protagonist believes this hobbit is evil, she’s escaping from law/service and she heard a crow before she appeared (let’s not forget my protagonist’s previous encounter with crebain). What’s even more interesting is that all these fit together like puzzle pieces as we’re talking about a lone hobbit with a scar, walking in the middle of a cold winter night, in the Trollshaws. Therefore she will act with this prejudice, until it’s verified or not. This could be embarrassing or a lost opportunity if she’s wrong, but it will make the story even more interesting, give a behavioural approach to my protagonist and also give an extra reason for this additional information to exist instead of me trying to compartmentalise the knowledge away.

    Another topic of interest is with regards to the following text in Hârnmaster:

    Only significant encounters are detailed to the players. Scores of people may be seen while walking through a busy marketplace, but only a few are likely to interact with the PCs. A generated encounter is assumed to be at least potentially significant.

    So what means significant in terms of solo play here? The way I interpret it, it’s an encounter that has the potential to evolve a story thread. It could be an existing or a new thread.
    Beware though of two things: first it doesn’t have to be a main thread or story arch, secondly, it’s only potential. The encounter could be a dud, depending on how the player reacts.


    It’s been two days that the caravan moves through the trollshaws without any issue. It’s not to wonder though that the trolls, orcs and hillmen would rather stay around warm fires than brave the snow and sleet flurries that are whipping the caravan.
    They went eastwards on the highway for about a score of miles, and camped near a crossroads before continuing south on the trail. They passed by a few ruins, but dared not go closer. Winter time is when creatures feared by men make their homes at abandoned places.
    They camped further south on the trail, near a few trees, and set up a few tarps so that they would be protected by the weather.
    Winter nights are not only colder, but longer too, so Leówyn took the first shift on the 5th and 6th watches.
    It’s around 10pm, when she notices a short figure in the distance. Shorter than dwarves, she knows it’s no goblin, but whoever travels alone in the middle of a cold winter night, may carry a dark story with them. She puts her hand on her sword hilt, and calls out to what she makes to be a hobbit.
    “Halt! Who goes there?” She asks, giving away her position, but showing that she’s not afraid.
    The hobbit steps closer.
    “Just a weary traveler, Lady. May I join your company for the night?” asks a hobbit woman. She’s wearing well made clothing, and a wooden symbol hangs on her chest. She’s got copper hair and dark green eyes. What draws Leówyn’s attention though, is the deep scar running down her face. Something about her doesn’t seem right. She keeps her hand on the hilt, and looks to Wyny, see if he’s sleeping.

    Q: Is Wyny sleeping?
    A: False Presuposition. So it’s either that Wyny is not there or he’s dead (unlikely).
    Q: Is Wyny missing?
    A: Yes.

    Ok, that’s interesting.

    Leówyn looks around but she can’t find the Caravan master. How did he sneak out during her watch, and most importantly, why. She’ll have to decide on her own what to do with the uninvited guest.

    So from the MERP Core rule book, I get that her Demeanor is Formal, Personality is Cautious and Alignment is Neutral.

    “You may sit by the fire where I can see you, but you’ll have to surrender any arms you’re carrying, and place them by the cart. Come first morning light you’ll go your own way and we go ours.” She says.

    Q: Does the hobbit agree?
    A: No, Random Event.
    Descriptors: Partially Warm
    Actions: Praise Physical

    “My lady. I’m not as strong as you are. I wouldn’t even consider turning against a warrior such as yourself. I could keep some distance if that would make you feel safer, even if that would mean I won’t be as warm as I’d like.”

    So since we have a conflict here, I’ll turn to game mechanics.
    Leówyn will use Rhetoric: 21/33: MS.

    Leówyn draws her sword from the scabbard just enough that the blade itself is visible. “I think I made myself quite clear. I will not let a traveler freeze in the cold, but I won’t let the caravan get robbed either. If you won’t let go of your arms, then leave. Or I’ll have to make you leave.”
    The hobbit nods. She reveals a long dagger, places it by the cart, and moves to the warmth of the fire.

    Considering the events, the unexpected hobbit arrival and Wyny missing, Leówyn will wake up Enryn.

    Q: Does Enryn go after Wyny?
    A: No
    Q: Does he stand guard? (Likely)
    A: Yes

    Leówyn goes to Enryn and wakes him up. She tells him about their visitor and about Wyny missing.
    “You go, look for Wyny. I’ll stand guard here and watch over our guest.” The caravan guard replies.
    She packs some gear, and heads out, torch in hand to see where the caravan master may have gone.

    Since Leówyn hasn’t got a Tracking skill, I’ll have her use Awareness instead to see if there’s something obvious.

    Leówyn: Awareness: 73: MF.
    She can’t find anything.

    After an hour or so, walking around in the dark of the night, around the camp, she can’t find any sign of Wyny, and Leówyn returns empty handed.

    Q: Has Wyny returned maybe?
    A: Yes

    “There you are.” He says as Leówyn returns. “Thought you had abandoned your post, but Enryn filled me in.”
    “I was looking for you. The timing of the little one’s appearance and your disappearance felt odd to me.” She replies.
    “Just relaxing myself. Needed to hit the pot before a good nights sleep.” He looks at Enryn and continues. “I see the two of you have everything under control, so we’ll talk again in the morning.”

    Day 28, Hithui, 1st Watch

    Weather (11) stays Cold, but it’s Snowing heavily now. Winds are North and Windy.

    Encounter: 5: No encounter

    Day 28, Hithui, 2nd Watch

    Weather (11) stays the same.

    Encounter: 5: No encounter

    Day 28, Hithui, 3rd Watch

    Weather (10) stays the same.

    Q: Is Eryel there in the morning when Leówyn wakes up?
    A: No
    Q: Is everyone alright?
    A: No, and stuff is missing.
    Q: Is Enryn dead?
    A: Yes, but no one else is hurt.

    Okay so that escalated quickly. My first impression is that Leówyn’s instinct was correct. The hobbit was a murderer escaping from the law.
    There’s a chance also that something else killed Enryn and Eryel got kidnapped or run away.
    There’s plenty of questions that arise in either case. But let’s try to set the scene.

    Q: Is there any sign of struggle?
    A: Yes
    Q: Is Enryn’s body away from the campsite? (Likely)
    A: Yes, Intervention. 1: New Entity.
    Q: Is it animal?
    A: Yes

    As the sunlight falls on her face, Leówyn wakes up. The rest of the party does, as well. Soon it hits her. Where’s Enryn? He should have woken her up.
    She quickly gathers her gear and looks around. Further away, half buried in the snow is Enryn’s body in a pool of blood. The throat is mangled. Bite marks everywhere. The face has been eaten off, and if it weren’t for his gear, he’d be unrecognisable.
    She looks for tracks, but the constant snowfall has covered everything.
    She covers the body in the cloak, and drags it over to the caravan.
    “Something attacked him at night.” She says to Wyny.
    “And someone took lots of our food and some valuables.” He responds. “Probably that hobbit. Nasty little creatures. Can’t trust them. You thing she had something to do with him?”
    “Doubt it. I think she saw an opportunity to rob us and took it, while Enryn fought for his life.” Leówyn thinks out loud. “She can’t have gone far, as she can’t ride our horses. And she didn’t scare them off because they’d have woken us. Want me to try to go after her?”
    “The snow will have covered her light foot tracks.” He shakes his head. “What do you think killed Enryn?”
    “I’d say a lone wolf, or considering how close we’re at the Trollshaws, a warg. Went for the throat first that’s why we didn’t hear a thing. It either didn’t notice the rest of us, or we were hid by the snow.”
    “We need to bury him and move on. Guarding now doesn’t make much sense. I want you a bit ahead, scouting. If you see danger, gallop back to us.” Wyny orders her.
    After handling everything, the caravan moves on.

    Encounter: 9: No encounter

    “What valuables?” Leówyn asks. “What are we selling to Tharbad?”

    Leówyn: Rhetoric: 65: CF.

    “I’m not paying you to ask questions. You’re meant to get us there. Leave the rest to us.” Wyny responds, obviously offended by the question.
    Leówyn wanted also to ask for how many days their rations will last, in the middle of winter, but she feels like it’s not a good moment to do so.
    They do have one less mouth to feed though, no matter how grim this sounds.


    Bookkeeping

    Development rolls:
    Rhetoric: 15: No increase
    Awareness: 44: No increase


    Session Summary

    Okay, so far I’m still getting the hang of Hârnmaster as a system.
    I’ll have to read more into when to use opposed rolls and some generic difficulty penalties.
    I think that with regards to mechanics it relies more heavily to rulings vs rules than I’d like. I’ll know for certain after a few more sessions.

    As for heading south to Tharbad, at this pace I’m not sure the caravan will make it.
    It’s very much likely they won’t. But it’s not like they have much choice. I’m thinking that there’s something not right with this caravan. Otherwise what could explain their odd path, odd time travelling, and unwillingness to discuss the cargo?
    Again these are not just my thoughts, probably Leówyn also considers that in the back of her head, as she rides through the snow.

    This leads me back to the approaches to meta knowledge. I’ve done some discussions on the matter, and may write a short blog post about it in the near future.

     
  • giorgis 9:34 am on August 2, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Miniatures pt87 – Nagas 

    Here’s some Naga Swords and Naga Archers from the Alternative Armies Hordes of Things range.

    I tried making my own DIY sand using Acrylic Matt Medium, Yellow Ochre Paint and Baking Soda. The texture came out nice but I wasn’t a huge fan of the colour since coverage wasn’t great and I had to apply wash and drybrush on top. Came out a bit darker than I’d like. The texture is right though. Next time I’ll apply it over a light brown undercoat and it should be fine.

    Naga with Sword
    Naga with Sword
    Naga with Sword
    Naga with Sword
    Naga with Bow
    Naga with Bow
    Naga with Bow
    Naga with Bow

     
  • giorgis 5:01 pm on July 31, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    In the Aristrax Marches – Ep11 

    Previously in the last episode of the actual play report of Five Leagues from the Borderlands in the Aristrax Marches, the Ravens of Gadun suffered a serious defeat while trying to destroy Ugmal once and for all. Despite gaining an initial foothold in Ugmal’s burial site, soon they were overwhelmed by the enemy troops. Lady Liana of Trenne lost her life in that fight.

    Turn 18

    Rolling at Camp Events, since we’re in the Blighted Vale, we get a result of and so the story went, gaining an extra Story Point. Our Upkeep Costs are low this turn so we lose only one Gold Mark. Boots scratches of one Recovery turn, as Bolga tries to Forage for herbs but fails. Since Myrick is the lowest level of our warband, he will Train, earning +1 XP.
    For the Adventuring stage we will just Travel to Newhorn (4). On the Travel roll, we get an Obstacle, which is Marshlands, and as we fail our Scouting roll, it is randomly determined that Omac lost his Throwing knives.
    Finally at News Events we get that someone important needs adventurers, but we won’t follow up on this.

    Turn 18 – Map

    The morale is low as the Ravens try to come to grip with their defeat. The halfling is still injured and can’t join yet in any upcoming battle, and they’re also one member down after Liana’s loss.
    Omac is in no mood to order them around, so the Ravens choose their own tasks. Bolga’s attempt to find any herbs to refill their supply was unsuccesful. Myrick on the other hand focuses on training, he wants to be prepared next time he faces the enemy.

    Once all is said and done, Omac gives the command to gather round and travel to Newhorn, but they take a wrong turn in their path, and have to go through marshlands. None of them is an expert in scouting proper ground, and with a misstep Omac finds himself in the bog. Bolga quickly pulls him out, but as he does so, Omac’s belt with the pair of throwing knives, is caught on something. The buckle gives way, and the knives are lost forever in the bog. The gloom mood yet continues as they finally reach the manor town. A crier at the square calls for adventurers, but they pay no heed, and head directly to the inn.

    Turn 19

    Rolling now at Town Events it’s a Market day, and we get yet another Rare trade item roll, for a total of 3 since this is a Town. Our Upkeep costs are high at 3 Gold Marks so we’ll use one pack of Rations this time.
    Boots scratches of yet another Recovery turn and he’s ready to fight.
    Myrick will train this turn as well, for another XP gain. Since we need to recruit someone, Boots will get on it, spending 1 Gold Mark, and he’s successful, so we get a Follower to cover up Lady Liana’s spot.

    I definitely want a non-human Origin for the Follower because I want to see what is available. I decided to roll on the Follower table first, and then either decide or roll randomly. I get the result that it’s a Stout Yeoman. So from the non-human Origins that I don’t have in my warband, what fits me best is either Fey-blood or Dwarf, with a higher chance for Dwarf. I roll randomly and it’s a Dwarf. His name’s Undin.

    Time to re-arrange some equipment. I’m giving Undin, Myrick’s Fine Standard Weapon & Bolga’s Fine Shield. Myrick gets the 2nd Heart Seeker. Since this is a major event, I’m trying to have a warband more akin to WYSIWYG. As Bolga is without a shield, he gets to retain the same miniature (yes, I had kept the same mini in the past few episodes despite Bolga carrying a shield). Omac will get a new miniature, that of the bearded mercenary captain wearing plate armor and carrying a bastard sword, that is until his staff is repaired or he switches to a different set of equipment. Boots has a pretty generic miniature carrying a torch, therefore no change is needed there. Temir has a longbow and a sword therefore no change is needed there as well. Since Myrick now sports the Heart Seeker as well, I want a miniature that fits the bill, so I’ll be making a change here also (plus I wasn’t a big fan of the current miniature I used, felt out of place). Finally Undin will get a proper shield bearing dwarf miniature.

    Rolling on the Rare items table I won’t make any purchases of the available items (Delver’s kit, Map making kit, or any item at +2 Gold Marks).
    For regular trade I’ll sell the damaged light armor, two light weapons and two standard weapons, and buy a new partial armor for a total cost of 1 Gold Mark, which will be given to Undin.

    Finally, for Adventuring stage we will Battle the enemy threat and our target yet again is the Whispers from Beyond. They’re at the Wilderness (so we need to travel there), they’re just passing through (meaning they’re using the Unknown Enemy rule) and if we fail, they will entrench themselves further. We cannot afford to lose this fight.

    On the Travel roll we Meet someone, the result is a Young runaway, but I decide to take the next available entry because I’ve had a Unique meeting of a Young runaway in the past, and the new result is a Beggar, Sociable who will make us a Contract offer. We’re not interested and reach the enemy at the Settlement outskirts. The enemy rolled is Broken Fanatics, 6 in total with 1 crossbow. They’re lead by a Unique Foe, who is a Mighty Warrior, and an Agent of the Dark. Our objective will be to Hunt the enemy, in this case eliminate the Mighty Warrior.

    Wow all this makes a great story to narrate! The roll results fit very well together. Finally, our set up distance is 18″, and we have failed to Seize Initiative.

    Turn 19 – Map

    Caldas wakes up to the sound of the market bustling through the streets of Newhorn. He slowly gets off his bed at the Weasel’s Cellar. He’s back in fighting shape. His injuries healed. He goes downstairs to the bar and as Mina serves him some oatmeal and ale to start the day, a stout bearded fella sits by him, setting his ale jug on the table with a loud thud.

    “Are you Caldas? also known as Boots? One of the Ravens of Gadun?” The dwarf asks, and without waiting for an answer, he continues. “My name’s Undin. I heard you’re looking for a strong pair of arms to help you fight beasts. Mina will vouch for me.”
    Boots looks at him. He’ll do. “You can’t go monster hunting with a hatchet, my friend. If you’re to be one of us, you need proper arms and armor. Come, follow me. We’ll see what we have, and what doesn’t fit we’ll go to the market, sell it and get you a nice set.”
    Undin’s eyes lighten up as he’s given an axe and a shield, both of fine make. They’ll last for a long time in the fights to come. Unfortunately there’s no armor that fits him, so Boots hands him a pack of weapons and armor that they’ll sell to the market. They find a set of armor that is to the dwarf’s size.
    “Now you’re ready.” Boots says. “Let’s go.”

    As they head back to the inn, they find Myrick training in the courtyard against a wooden training doll. Boots motions for him to come inside. The Ravens gather round the table.

    Omac raises his drink. “To those that stood here before us, and to those that despite adversity have come to stand in their place. Welcome Undin.” They all raise their jugs and drink.
    “The dead must be put to their final rest. We shall hunt them down and their minions, until only the living walk these lands.” He looks to his companions. “You may have heard of Nabaru the Strong. A mighty warrior. Word has reached me that he’s an agent of the dark and he leads a force of broken fanatics to prey on the remote settlements. We’ll hunt him down and end him and his followers. We leave at midday.”

    Their journey is almost uneventful. They meet a beggar who is eager to talk. Seeing how they’re armed and capable, he tells them of a job offering he’s heard of, but the Ravens aren’t interested, and they push onwards.

    At the outskirts of the settlements they see their part of the enemy force. Nabaru towers above the rest of them. None of the Ravens is eager to face him. They nod at each other and move to battle.


    Combat

    ROUND 1

    The two opposing forces come closer. Two fanatics and Nabaru have taken the South flank, to face Omac and Bolga. A crossbowman sets up on the hillside behind them and takes a shot at Bolga missing by a mile.
    Meanwhile Temir, Myrick and Boots come from the North, where an unknown number of enemies approach.

    ROUND 1
    ROUND 2

    Bolga attacks the fanatics and draws first blood, sending one of them to the grave.
    First the other fanatic, and then Nabaru the Strong attack Bolga, but he pushes them back, one by one.
    The crossbowman has no clear line of sight, so he positions himself better on the hill.


    The unknown enemies are revealed as they hit the centre. It’s three more fanatics who head towards Caldas.
    Temir the Ox closes on the fence and shoots an arrow right at a fanatic’s temple, killing him instantly. Myrick shoots as well, but misses. Boots loads his slingshot and wounds one of his enemies angering him further.

    Seeing Bolga alone against the fanatics, Omac casts a shielding spell to protect him from enemy fire.

    ROUND 2
    ROUND 3

    With a clear shot, the fanatic crossbowman shoots a bolt at Bolga. The spell doesn’t protect him from the perfect shot, but his armor stops the bolt from penetrating further.

    Nabaru challenges Bolga to a duel, and they clash. Bolga blocks the first attack, but as he goes for a follow up strike, his enemy counters. The sword strike brings Bolga down at once.
    The fanatic next to Nabaru now has a clear path to the Beard. His attack is foiled, and he’s wounded by Omac’s bastard sword, before stepping back, enraged.
    His enemy wounded, Omac casts a Bleed spell on him, hoping he’ll fall sooner or later due to exsanguination.

    The broken man wounded by the halflilng attacks the short fella with fury. His blade finds Caldas’ body, and the halfing falls.
    Myrick shoots at him as he stands over Caldas’ body. The arrow wounds him further and brings him down. Temir shoots at the last standing fanatic at the centre of the battlefield, which lodges itself at his knee. The fanatic is furious, but wounded.

    ROUND 3
    ROUND 4

    Omac prepares a Fortune spell to bless his fates in the ongoing fight, while Myrick shoots another arrow at the wounded fanatic, clearing the centre, and opening their path South, for Temir and Myrick to assist their leader, supported by Undin.

    The crossbowman shoots at Temir but misses by a long shot. The furious, wounded fanatic attacks Undin, but the Stout Yeoman holds, and they disengage.
    Meanwhile Nabaru and Omac face off. The fight’s a draw and Omac steps back.

    ROUND 4
    Undin moves very slowly, and finally reached the fight. Yet he's not strong enough to fight either of the enemies in front of him, so he'll wait this turn and act in the Quick Phase of the next round.
    ROUND 5

    Temir shoots his last arrow at Nabaru, but it hits the fence covering the enemy warrior.
    Undin attacks the wounded fanatic, but his enemy is berserk. He puts the dwarf in defensive who parries blow after blow with his shield before the melee ends.
    Omac follows up against the berserker, but his enemy gains the upper hand and strikes back. Despite the fortune spell, Omac can’t block the enemy, who strikes yet once more, piercing the armor and bringing the Beard down.

    The crossbowman takes a clean shot at the dwarf but misses, as Undin is attacked by Nabaru, parrying two hits with his shield, before being wounded himself. The berserker also attacks him at the same time, and Undin is stunned, his armor saving him from the two hits that follow. Undin’s eyes burn with vengeance against the enemies who hurt his friends.

    ROUND 5
    Two rerolls due to Fortune, one at the melee to hit roll, and one at the overcome armor, didn't save Omac who fell.
    Also I didn't take under consideration the no-pushback trait of the dwarf, so he ended up at the centre of the table.
    ROUND 6

    Myrick takes a carefully aimed shot with his bow at the berserking fanatic, and wounds him at last, stopping his spree. The crossbowman answers with a shot against the wounded dwarf, but misses yet once more.

    Nabaru now attacks Myrick who’s behind the table. He counter attacks but his strike is too weak, and Nabaru isn’t a warrior to be stunned by such feeble displays. His next attack is blocked by Nabaru who counters himself now and wounds Myrick twice, putting him off the fight.

    Temir now steps on the table and attacks at Nabaru, his enemy is skilled and wounds him, but Temir grits his teeth and fights on. Feigning more pain than he is in, he hacks at Nabaru, the heart seeker cutting armor like butter, and wounding him. With a follow up strike, he kills the mighty warrior.

    ROUND 6
    I even spent a Story Point for Myrick to survive, as I thought having two people with Heart Seekers gave me a better chance to defeat Nabaru, but he fell anyway.
    ROUND 7

    The Ravens turn their attention to the crossbowman on the hill. Undin charges at him, but it’s a draw, and his enemy steps back. The fanatic attacks back, his strike stopped by Undin’s armor, before they disengage in yet another draw. The two warriors are winded by the long fight.

    Temir pulls some bandages from the backpack and closes his wounds.

    ROUND 7
    ROUND 8

    With some distance between them, the fanatic shoots a crossbow bolt at Undin, but the dwarf ducks just in time to avoid the bolt.

    Undin locks himself in a fight with his enemy as Temir closes in, but can’t get a clean strike and steps back.

    ROUND 8
    ROUND 9

    The crosbowman shoots another bolt at Undin which hits, bypassing armor, and wounds the stout dwarf who falls.

    Temir follows up in melee, and finishes the last enemy standing. The Ravens are victorious.

    ROUND 9
    So during play I didn't take care of bookkeeping properly and didn't realize Undin was down. At the initial play Undin (wounded twice) went in melee and finished the crossbowman.
    Therefore during cleanup, when I realized my mistake, I went ahead and played Temir vs Crossbowman in theater of the mind. After being wounded as well, he eliminated the crossbowman (who he wounded too) at Round 12!
    For narrative economy I decided to sum things up here.
    I also had rolled on Undin's Flash of Insight, and this became an Injury roll which had his Fine Standard Weapon damaged to a Standard Weapon.

    At the resolution, I rolled 5 Adventure points for being Victorious against an Enemy Threat and also +2 APs for the Unique Foe slain, +1 AP for the Whispers of Beyond (5 or more enemies), +2 APs for the Dark Agent Motivation of the Unique For and finally +1 AP for the successful Hunt the Enemy objective. After spending 6 APs for an Adventure Milestone to reduce the Whispers from Beyond Enemy Threat, I’m still +5 APs extra.

    For the injuries, I get a Light Injury on Bolga for 3 Turns, a Serious Injury on Boots for 5 Turns, a Dead result for Omac, a Moderate injury for Myrick for 5 Turns and an Item Damaged Fine Standard Weapon for Undin.

    Spent a Story Point and rerolled Omac’s Injury to get a Knocked Out result.

    Every participant earned +1 XP, while Temir being the sole survivor and also defeating Nabaru, earned +2 XP for a total of +3 XP.

    We get one Loot roll, which is a Weapon, Improved Staff, Balanced. Heading right at Omac.

    On the Unusual Finds we roll a Captive and get to add a Villager Friend. Also No Upkeep next turn. Going to https://donjon.bin.sh/ I get Aliol: Male Elf Scholar, Evil. Aliol has an angular face, with straight copper hair and soft amber eyes. He wears modest garments and several pouches hang from his belt. So I’m switching this to Fey-blood instead of Elf and that’s our Friend.

    Finally on the News Events we rolled that an old friend sents you a letter. Our only friend is the villager we just added, but it makes no sense for it to be him, so we’ll add another Adventurer Friend. Again donjon to the rescue. Ales Gylley: Male Halfling Thief, Neutral. Ales is rough in appearance, with matted silver hair and light grey eyes. He wears leather armor and wields a long sword and dagger. Ales compulsively counts things. I’ll narrate this part on the next time they reach a settlement because it makes no sense to receive a letter right now.

    Battered, beaten, but victorious. Nabaru is dead, lying in a pool of blood, with several fanatics around him. Temir, Omac and Undin, having no significant injuries., tend to the battlefield. Undins axe blade was struck hard in the battle during a block but it still holds. Bolga, Boots and Myrick will need time to recover.

    Temir piles the bodies of their foes and builds a pure. He wants to be sure none of them return to pester them.

    Omac contemplates his fate as he’s certain that his opponents blow should have taken his life. But yet, he’s still standing. Walking around the battlefield he finds a finely made staff, carefully balanced. He smiles, certain that it will serve him well.

    Undin tends to his wounded companions before searching the houses. Most of the villagers had left, but he finds a villager bound and gagged in one of the houses. He sets him free, and the fey-blooded man hugs the stout yeoman.

    “Thank you! Thank you! You’ve saved my life. I’m Aliol, the scholar. Forever in your debt. If you ever need a friend. Call me. Here.” He said, pointing to a bag in the corner of his house. “Take this food, it’s the least I can do at a moments notice. It’s fresh though so make sure that you eat it before it spoils.”

    Undin bows. “We’re the Ravens of Gadun, and it’s our task to clean these lands of evil. Your help is welcomed.”

    And with this, the Ravens camp at the outskirts in the care of the villagers.

    Session Summary

    Another intense fight! The scales were turned many times before we won. I got tired in the near end as the last combat drew out much longer than I expected, but it was eventually worth it.

    On another note, I also tried some new trees I made in this battlefield which I held in place using magnets, and it worked well. I’ll slowly upgrade my battlefields further.

    With summer heat burning in Greece, it will be a short while before the next episode.

     
  • giorgis 11:48 am on July 28, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Miniatures pt86 – Winged beasts (2) 

    Here’s a Cockatrice and a Chimera from Alternative Armies Hordes of Things range that I got a while ago and had them sketch primed waiting to be painted.

    I finally finished them, and what I really enjoyed this time around was basing. I got me some packs of sand from the local dollar store, very cheap, in three different colours/shapes. There’s brown sand, gray sand and dark gravel. This means I no longer have to worry about painting, washing and drybrushing my bases. It’s brown paint -> glue -> carefully placed gravel -> sand spots -> grass -> let dry. That’s way faster than before. I always found basing boring (especially after going through the entire mini painting stage) but very important to have a nice looking mini. With this technique I get nice results in a single gluing step.

    Cockatrice
    Chimera
     
  • giorgis 3:10 pm on July 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags:   

    In the Aristrax Marches – Ep10 

    Previously in the Aristrax Marches, the Ravens of Gadun defeated a band of outcasts who were about to ambush them. With the warband in full strength, Omac Gadun, their leader, must decide what to do next.

    Turn 15

    On Town Events I rolled Just drunks and yokels, which means for this campaign turn we can only recruit Followers. This has no impact since I was not intending to recruit anyone anyway.
    The Upkeep costs are rolled at 2 Gold Marks, which I decide to nullify by Helping the Town Guard.
    For the other Campaign Activity I decide that we need to repair Lady Liana’s Helmet and Myrick’s Light Armor. Newhorn is a Manor Town so we can repair 2 items in one turn.
    For Adventuring we decide to Travel to the Blighted Vale (15) so to go to the Quest Finale. Unfortunately on the Travel roll, we got Miserable Weather and subsequently we failed our Travelling Proficiency test, so we must camp.
    Finally on the News travels table we rolled that Someone important needs adventurers, but since we’re way over our heads at the moment I decide to disregard it alltogether.

    The Ravens spend a few nights over at the Weasel’s Cellar. Only drunks and yokels are the customers there this time around, and Omac is quite bored, since there is nothing of interest.
    Once they get their gear repaired, and finish their shifts with the town guard – bashing the heads of the aforementioned drunks when they take it too far – the Beard decides they’re ready. He calls the Ravens together.
    “The time has come my brothers and sisters. We shall head to the Blighted Vale and eliminate this evil forever! Pack your things for we leave first thing in the morning.” He makes his speech, and the Ravens nod.

    One thing they did not take into account though, is that when men make plans, the gods are laughing, and this time it was Sacha, Lady of the Sky who did not take kindly to their task. The clouds gathered while they were on their way, and near the Savage Mountains, a storm poured down on them. Torrents overflowed and blocked their way. They had to stop and camp on high ground, waiting for the storm to pass, and the floods to clear.

    Omac cursed at the events as they unfolded, but steeled himself for what is to come.

    Turn 16

    The Camp Events roll gave the result Time on your own. The random member is Solas who earned +1 XP.
    Our Upkeep costs are high, at 3 Gold Marks, which give me no other choice but to waste a Campaign Activity to Live off the land.
    Omac will go to a Mystic Expedition, which was successful, and he found 1 Congealed Strand.
    For Adventuring we decide to continue Travel to the Blighted Vale (15) so to go to the Quest Finale. Unfortunately on the Travel roll, again we got Miserable Weather and subsequently we failed our Travelling Proficiency test once more, so we must camp again.
    Finally on the News travels table we rolled that The rangers have been scouting the area, and get to add +2 Adventure Points.

    With their path blocked, there is ample time to reflect. Temir, takes the opportunity to train his skills.
    The torrenting rain has ruined some of their supplies, so at least half the warband spends valuable time trying to forage for food. Omac leaves them to their camp as he heads out on a mystical expedition.

    When he returns, the clouds have cleared, and they head out again. It has been only one day on travel over muddy ground when dark clouds gather once more. They quickly make for the hills before tons of water start falling on their heads once more. They wait it out on a makeshift camp near a shallow cave entrance.

    Turn 17

    The Camp Events roll gave the result Poor Hunting Grounds therefore we cannot go to a Hunting Expedition.
    Our Upkeep costs are high again, at 3 Gold Marks, which give me no other choice but to waste a Campaign Activity to Live off the land.
    Bolga will Forage for Herbs and he had Success resulting in Springwind berries.
    On the Travel roll we Meet Someone who is a Pilgrim, Disinterested, so we move on and we reach the Blighted Vale at last!

    Two weeks of constant flooding rain have not only tired out the warband, but have driven away any game. With their supplies mouldy, they have to focus on foraging for food, while Bolga uses his wilderness knowledge to also discern any useful herbs. He finds some springwind berries that they can use.

    As the ground dries out, Omac gives the command to head out again. Their paths cross with a pilgrim, but he doesn’t seem to want to make any friends. He doesn’t even nod back when they greet him. There’s the off chance that he’s on a vow of silence, so the Ravens don’t force a conversation with him.

    A few days of walking later, they’re at their destination. They crouch, draw weapons and sneak in.


    According to the Quest Finale we play out a Site Battle with 6 Enemies + modifier and one of each leader types. The Objective is to either eliminate both the Enemy Captain and Unique Foe or to perform a ritual at the centre of the table.
    Since I got my Hexon table ready I decided to play out the battle on this, and make everything cluttered with terrain to block movement and line of sight.
    Boots makes the first movement and we get a result of Undiscovered depths, adding 3 Exploration Markers.
    Now I can roll on the Enemies table and get that we are up against Grave Walkers and the Unique Foe is a Duskling Champion who is a regular member of the enemy warband. That’s both very dangerous and an interesting combination since Dusklings hate the Undead I can only imagine that the champion is under a curse forcing him to fight for the Grave Walkers.

    Caldas steps in quietly, and soon the Ravens see movement. Groups of skeleton knights patrol the area. It seems that either Ugmal’s remains have strong magic binding them to this place, or the enemy has already arrived, waiting to get their hands on the parchments to reanimate Ugmal.

    What strikes them as odd, is that there is a living, breathing duskling, standing with the grave walkers. What curse could be holding him in place? Bolga knows that this unholiness must be stopped. He will do what he must.

    A group of skeletons has already sighted Boots, and they start moving towards him, while two more groups that patrol, will soon have them in their sights. If they are to destroy Ugmal once and for all, they must destroy the patrols quickly, before the enemy is upon them in full strength.

    The Ravens of Gadun enter from the West.

    The Combat

    ROUND 1

    Boots loads up a lead bullet to his sling, and he swings it so that it’s on full momentum. His aim is perfect, and he hits the duskling right on the chest, a cracking sound confirms a broken rib or two. His enemy is wounded.
    Bolga moves up ahead to support Caldas in case the enemy duskling decides to hurt his friend.
    Temir and Myrick go for the opening to the east, covering it with their bows, while Omac and Liana head to flank the crossroads from the other side.
    The grave walkers move closer.

    ROUND 1
    ROUND 2

    Another bullet from Boots’ sling hits the duskling champion, but his armor deflects it. Bolga points at his enemy with his cleaver, and he takes the challenge.
    Having one of his own brethren at liege with the living dead is something that shakes the very core of Bolga, and he fights with dedication. His opponent can’t parry the hit in time, and the cleaver hacks at the dusklings neck. As the eyes go lifeless, the duskling smiles, thanking Bolga for saving him from his fate.
    Two skeletons charge at the Butcher, and they are felled, one by one, by the duskling as he counterattacks each strike.

    Temir shoots at the grave walkers descending from the eastern hill, but he’s scared of them, and can’t focus properly, missing them. Myrick follows up with another bow shot, but the rusty armor of the dead stops the arrow.

    ROUND 2
    ROUND 3

    Temir with a trembling hand tries, to reach for another arrow, but he fumbles, and drops all arrows from his quiver. Valuable time has been wasted, and he knows he has to switch to melee, drawing the Heart seeker.

    Boots moves to the side and loads his sling, shooting at his target. He aims for a skeleton that has some insignia, must have been a lieutenant in a past life. His opponent ducks at the right moment, the sling shot hitting the wall at his side. The lieutenant strides forward and reaches Boots, who has drawn his rapier. He blocks the first attack, and follows up with another, but his light blade cannot get past his enemy’s plates, and he’s blocked, and steps back.

    A grave walker follows up with an attacks against Caldas. The halfling is flanked, and the hit strikes his leg where the chain shirt doesn’t protect him. Boots is wounded, but blocks the follow up strike and hits back his enemy, crushing a few bones.

    Another skeleton charges at Lady Liana of Trenne. She’s taken aback by the force of the dead, and the strike goes past her armor, blood spewing out from the wound. Stunned from the wound she tries to fight back, but fails, she’s wounded again, and unable to stand by the sheer amount of blood loss, she falls to the ground.

    Myrick takes another shot with his bow at the skeletons, but the arrow flies off deflected by the armor.

    His friend wounded, Omac puts his hands together, fingers touching, and chants in his mystical language. He feels magic slipping away, so he puts his will to the test, and holds everything in place. Caldas, already starts to feel better. The wound at his leg doesn’t hurt him anymore.

    Bolga attacks the skeleton who hit Liana, for ‘vengeance’ he screams. His strike is blocked, but then as the skeleton hits back, he counterattacks, only for his hit to be blocked by the ancient armor, finally he hits once more, but the strike was but a glancing blow, and the skeleton is too tough to be stunned.

    ROUND 3
    ROUND 4

    Temir, closes in on melee against the dead. A couple of strikes are exchanged, without finding their targets, but finally the Heart seeker goes through the armor like butter, destroying a few bones holding together part of the skeleton.

    Bolga fights again the skeleton, but still the fight is undecisive after several blows that aren’t final.

    Now the grave walkers push back. Myrick can’t fend them off, and retreats several steps to avoid being hurt. Boots is locked in combat against them, but he ducks and parries the repeat attacks by his enemies.

    The grave walker lieutenant challenges Bolga. They fight each other, skill against skill, noone wins, and they finally disengage at a short distance.

    Omac lashes out a spell to bring down the skeleton missing several destroyed bones. The spell is succesful, but the skeleton still stands, the magic holding him together remaining strong.

    Boots decides not to get locked in combat and tries to shoot at the enemy lieutenant, but in the chaos of battle and the close quarters, his shot fails.

    Myrick shoots his last arrow at the wounded enemy skeleton, but the arrow gets through the gaps in the bones, missing the target.

    ROUND 4
    ROUND 5

    Bolga attacks once more the enemy skeleton, but his foe fights back fiercely, and he can’t destroy him.

    Omac tries to cast another spell to bring down the damaged skeletons, but he fails to recite the correct incantantion, and the spell fizzles out.

    The skeletons charge. Temir is pushed back, but he blocks the enemy attacks in a draw.

    The lieutenant attacks the surrounded Bolga. But the duskling counterattacks. All dusklings have taken an oath of life, and their hatred burns against the dead. With his strength tapping from the inner core of their origin, he cuts the skeleton in two, destroying him. Only pieces of bones remain where the abomination stood.

    Omac is attacked by the skeleton he pointed his spell at. He blocks the strike, and follows up with an attack from his staff. The oaken staff hits the skull, crushing it to bits and the skeleton drops inanimate.

    The skeleton captain, with a crown on his head now has reached the fight. He orders his minions on the warband. The first skeleton locks himself against Boots, but the halfling is fast and ready. He evades the attack and cuts off his enemy at the knees, destroying the magic that holds it together. He’s flanked by the other skeleton, who hits him with his axe. The strike is strong, and Boots falls under his enemy.

    The line of defense destroyed, the skeleton captain has an open path to Omac, and jumps to the leader of the Ravens. The Beard tries to parry with his staff, but he’s wounded and pushed back. With another strike, the skeleton captain fells the Raven.

    ‘No!’ Myrick cries out as one by one, his companions are down. Furious he charges at the enemy, but the skeletons seem to still remember the skills they had in life. His enemy blocks the attack, and follows up with an attack by his sword. The blade finds flesh, and Myrick falls as well.

    ROUND 5
    ROUND 6

    Only Bolga and Temir remain standing. They look at each other. If they are to succeed, the crowned skeleton must be destroyed.

    Their thoughts are interrupted by the fight ahead of them as a skeleton attacks Temir, who is pushed further back, defending himself.

    The skeleton captain attacks the surrounded Bolga, who counterattacks, but with only a weak glancing blow, before being forced to disengage. That’s enough distraction for a flank attack by the skeleton axeman who brought Boots down. The axe hacks at Bolga’s body, and the duskling falls as well.

    Temir, alone now attacks his opponents, but they stand together, and he can’t manage to score a hit that will break their defenses. He has to step further back.

    ROUND 6
    ROUND 7

    The skeleton swordsman attacks Temir, who is pushed back, as the skeleton axeman follows up with another flanking strike. Temir is wounded.

    Holding his bleeding side, Temir knows he can’t win this battle alone. He looks at the exit, and retreats. The Ravens lost.

    ROUND 7

    Working on the Resolution stage, we earned 3 Adventure Points because we defeated a Unique Foe and a Captain.

    Rolling on the Injuries and Flight in the Dark tables, Caldas got a Light injury for 2 Turns, Omac got a Damaged Staff, Lady Liana Died, Bolga got a Moderate injury for 4 Turns, Myrick was Knocked Out, and Temir had his Fine Longbow Damaged, becoming a regular Longbow. I expended the extra Luck Bolga had during the Quest, so he’s safe, and used a Silvertree Leaf to reroll Lady Liana’s result. Unfortunately she got another Dead result, becoming the first warband member to perish. She will be remembered in our hall of fame, and we earn +1 Story Point. This means that randomly, also her Throwing Knives were Damaged, and her items can be redistributed among the warband. I decide that they won’t be redistributed, except for Heart Seeker.

    The only members who receive experience points, are Temir who survived and gained +1 XP, and Bolga who eliminated the Unique Foe and a Lieutenant, earning him +2 XP. They each gained a level after this, reaching Level 4, with Temir getting an increase in Speed, and Bolga an increase in Toughness.

    Finally the News Travels result is that a monster has been spotted in the fog and we add a Hidden Monster Lair to the region.

    The Ravens, defeated crawl out of the site. They count themselves, beaten, battered, wounded, bleeding. Omac’s oaken staff is broken, Bolga notices that his wound barely missed a vital organ, and it’s only a flesh wound, he’s back in fighting shape, Boots has his leg scathed, he’ll need time to recover, Temir bent his longbow as he fled out, but what grabs their attention is Lady Liana. She’s coughing blood. Omac is over her, holding her in his arms, and removes the silvertree leaf from his pouch. He quickly builds up a poultice and applies it to her wounds. But they’re too deep. The poultice doesn’t stop the bleeding. Liana holds his hand tightly and tries to speak some last words, but her mouth gasps for air, and no sound comes out. She pulls out her sword, and points the handle towards Myrick, and he respectfully takes it. Finally the strong grip of her hand relaxes, and Omac realizes she’s gone for good. The warband stands in silence as Omac closes her eyes.

    They set a burial ground for her. They cleaned her up, and placed a sword and her full assortment of armor, helmet and shield alongside her. The burial of a warrior. Each of them put some dirt and stones until she was completely covered. Finally, they rolled a huge slab of stone on top, so that no animals would desecrate the body. They carved her name into the stone, so that the grave was marked properly.

    At night they all stood around the fire. First Omac raised his flask of wine. “To Lady Liana of Trenne, a warrior so strong that mortal enemies trembled before her! Only the dead who have no fear could face her.” The rest of the Ravens, raised their flasks as well. “To Lady Liana of Trenne!” They said in unison. Then, each and everyone, started reciting tales of her deeds, in remembrance.

    Next morning, they gathered round. “It seems our enemy is still strong. Thankfully, the parchments are still in our posession, so they will need to take them from our cold dead hands before Ugmal is back from the dead. We will return to the Blighted Vale, but not today. For today we need to live, before we come back tomorrow. Until then, we shall fight the dead, we shall fight the rodents, and that plagues the land. We head back to Newhorn next, but for now, we camp.” Noone speaks after this. The loss of one of their own, reminds them of their own mortallity.

    Session Summary

    Wow what a battle! I knew it was going to be tough when the enemy table resulted in Grave Walkers. These dudes have armor, toughness, combat bonus and cannot be stunned. Top it off with max numbers and one of each leader type, I maybe should have walked out the minute we entered the battlefield. We tried to win and since we had eliminated the Unique Foe, we were at 50% completion of the objective. Several skeletons were killed, so I was hoping for Bolga to destroy the enemy captain, and tried to win until the very last minute, even when the scales tipped against me. When it was only Temir standing I knew I had to flee, since he had almost no chance of killing the captain. When even he was wounded it was definite.

    I noticed that I suffer from the CRPGs hoarding potions syndrome, and once more I did not use either Ironshield root, Springwind berries, and I forgot completely about Dragon’s Spite which could possibly have won the battle.

    Unfortunately our first lost battle also had our first dead warband member. Lady Liana was a strong pillar of the warband, and she will be missed. I will need to recruit a new warband member, and I intend to go with an origin that is missing from the group. I’m thinking Dwarf, Feral, Fey-blood or maybe even Preen. I’ll sit on the decision until the next session, where I might roll randomly or choose what I want.

    It might sound odd, but I like the fact that I lost. I consider myself at an advantage, since I know the game mechanics all too well and can choose the best tactics in most of the situations (read above how I failed to use Dragon’s Spite), therefore it’s important to have a challenge. I like that winning a Quest Finale requires the warband to have significant strength, and not just pure luck or tactics in order to win. I only have a second chance to win this, so I won’t be returning any time soon. I need to be certain that we stand a good chance against the Grave Walkers.

     
  • giorgis 11:05 am on July 15, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags:   

    Wargaming terrain – DIY and Hexon 

    Hexon terrain boards from kallistra are considered prime quality and this comes with the associated costs. Since I’ve started miniatures gaming, I’ve been very budget wise and have tried several terrain solutions.

    DIY

    My first DIY attempts were rollable mats using acrylic canvas that I textured with paint+speckle where I applied material (dried used coffee grinds, sand, flock) for a realistic look. I should have been more careful when removing the canvas from the frame afterwards (got them framed so that it doesn’t warp when drying) because I had some rough cuts on the canvas sides. My main concern here is that because it’s stored rolled, when unrolling it, it retains it’s rolled shaped, (which is also a problem with my commercial battle mat rolls) and also due to the constant rolling/unrolling it’s prone to constant shedding.

    DIY rollable canvas mat with speckle
    DIY rollable canvas mat with flock

    Next, I’ve made terrain tiles out of acrylic canvas tiles from the dollar store. These worked okayish but were prone to warping which I didn’t take into account when preparing them. I had heavily diluted my PVA glue when gluing my dried used coffee grinds texture material which made things worse. I’ve taken out most of the warping afterwards. I’ve touched them up with static grass later to improve their look. I did a fresh batch of 3 more tiles recently using undiluted PVA to apply sand and flock as texturing and it worked better, but still if I had used the technique I used in my Hexon boards (read further down) it would have been even better. My mistake here was that I applied PVA in the spots I wanted sand, and then applied PVA in the spots I wanted grass. That was tough to handle and I missed many spots and had to touch it up with a spray of diluted PVA which… caused minor warping.

    DIY acrylic canvas tiles upgraded with grass
    DIY acrylic canvas tiles with grass and sand

    Afterwards, I made tiles with foamcore. I cut foamcore into 20×20 cm square tiles so that I can have a ~2×2′ table using 9 tiles, and they are the same size of my acrylic canvas tiles. I got a grass paper mat which I cut to shape for the tiles and glued it on them with universal glue so that I avoid warping. I went above and beyond here by making various terrain features such as a small hill and uneven terrain, ponds, and a road. I even used magnets so that they lock together. My main issue here was twofold. First, handling foamcore is a pain. It’s tough to cut and I even tried a mix of modelling knife and hot wire cutter. Second, cutting perfect square shapes is hard, and I was missing the right tools, such as a metal corner like the ones the woodcutters use, and a cutting surface. Needless to say I spent way to long on these and there’s some minor gaps where four tiles intersect. The paper grass mat was a correct choice though, as it saved me a lot of time, and it was easy to remove grass from it with a bit of water, to create paths and ponds.

    Paper grass roll
    DIY foamcore tiles

    Hexon

    Finally I decided to splurge and go with the Hexon solution that I was eyeing for so long. BREXIT doesn’t help here. I’m located in the EU and there’s unforeseen customs costs, VAT and handling. I had to be extra careful with my order because if you go over a certain weight, then kallistra can’t ship with the Royal Air Mail, but uses a courier service. Courier services have even more pronounced customs handling fees, and I wanted to avoid this. Also VAT is applied on the shipping cost as well, which means that going overboard would extrapolate everything.

    Having these on my mind I was trying to decide what’s best for me. Buy hexon boards or non-hexon terrain features. I went with the first option. Then I had to decide if I’d go for sloped hexes or just terrain features. I decided not to get sloped hexes as the extra boards needed would increase the weight by a lot. Then I had to decide if I’d buy preflocked or not. The reviews said that kallistra does an excellent job of flocking, but I finally went with the bare brown plastic solution that I’ll flock myself, which meant I’d get more things, but still had to make sure I was not overweight.

    So I got me 6 boards which would make a good 2×2′ table, a 3-tile hill, a 3-tile escarpment, a 2-tile hill, a 2-tile rocky outcrop, 4 single tile rocky outcrops, 4 single tile craters, and a 3-tile lake. Given the modularity of the hex tile system this should give me plenty of options to work with.

    When the package arrived, I was thrilled. Of course VAT and handling was like 30% of the price+shipping, so the final price considering shipping was almost double the price of the goods. Yikes.

    The quality though is unparalleled. Sturdy brown plastic material. The boards are stackable and they’re designed so that they only touch in the corners, so your flocking material won’t be harmed while stacking. The boards have clips to keep them together, but I don’t thing they are needed as they almost slot together. The terrain features fit on the hexes of the boards so that they don’t move around. Overall it’s well worth the cost to me.

    So I went ahead and flocked them. I followed the How to guides in the kallistra website. I was really curious about the “glue PVA in one go, apply everything in layers”. Had to get me some disposable trays, but everything worked out fine in the end. A lesson learned it not to overdo it with PVA because it will drip at cliffsides and also puddle at other places creating bald or shiny spots. But this was only minor, and I may or may not touch them up in the future. The end result was well worth it, and I really love what I ended up with.

    Another thing I love about the hexes is that they define areas. So I could get single based trees and shrubs, and consider that the entire hex is an area with that kind of terrain. There’s also the option to buy single hex tiles-bases that you put on top of hexes and you can have them ready with trees and shrubs and rocks but I find this potentially limiting.

    I am thinking of getting more of these in the future, to make some desert and/or snow terrain. Maybe even badlands or dark forest. But that’s more of a wishlist right now.

    Hexon boards flocked with two tones and brown sand
    Hexon boards with all my flocked terrain overlayed

    Lessons learned

    If I’d go DIY again, I’d go for a paper grass mat solution over acrylic canvas tiles, that id flock the sides so that the ends of the paper grass mat aren’t visible, but if I’d have the appropriate storage space, I’d use a paper grass mat over a big foamcore surface like 50×70 cm so that no cutting is involved.

    Nevertheless as a complete solution, I think the hexon boards are the way to go. It’s like 100% better than what I have, and if you buy them bare plastic, then you get to do your own custom designs as you want. For me, that’s a definite winner.

     
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