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To avoid spamming the board, I'm going to keep all my actual play posts in a single thread per scenario, rather than 1 per session.  Also... is this a worthwhile thing to post, or are actual play threads not really a thing here?  I don't want to be "that guy" who constantly puts threads on a forum that are meh or not really what the forum is for.

Anyways, the intro scenario, a murder mystery on a caravan, ended with the players fully invested in their characters, which is awesome.  Now the PCs are heading to Selgos.  Lady Featherjoy is a noble of Selgos owes them favours for "saving her" from joining a cacodemon cult, and they intend to extract those favours from her to improve the caravan's business.  Additionally, Dara possesses a strange magic item that she wishes to research more: an intelligent, musical axe that feeds off the psychic energy of crowds.  She hopes one of the temples in Selgos has some information.  Here is a quick "community sheet" for the caravan:

1802305650_CalamityCrew.thumb.png.915bd7739d1280d916b9b2cc831f03e5.png

Selgos, meanwhile, is going to be an awesome viper pit despite its small size (about 2,000 people).  Here are some things I'm planning on simmering there:

  • The year is 1623, and emissaries of Greymane are in the city trying to recruit Nimistori and mercenaries for their next glorious campaign into Esrolia.
    • the PC Kullen, now a healer, is a disgraced Ditali warrior labelled as a coward and cursed for refusing to kill a fire priestess in Thonble on his first raid.
  • The Cacodemon Cult is still active in Selgos.  The Ogres are working toward trying to unleash a summoned cacodemon in the city.
    • Featherjoy's family, is also in trouble.  They turned to the cacodemon cult because they were getting pushed out of the market by another family (who maybe were also in league with the Ogres.  Will the PCs try to save her family, or let them fall and spend their effort elsewhere?
  • King Volusus of Jaraz plots to centralize his power over the Nimistori, and dreams of annexing Fay Jee and taking over Handra's sea trade
  • <<Something Something 52 Tombs of Castelein Something>>

The main thing I need to decide by Wednesday is a "bang" (to use Ron Edwards' terminology) that the players need to react to.  I think it's something like, "The PCs arrive at the Featherjoy estate the same time as Greymane's recruiters, who are renting the place for their recruitment drive."  The PCs will then be forced to decide if they're ok with Featherjoy getting in bed with the Solanthi.

 

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22 minutes ago, Nevermet said:

Also... is this a worthwhile thing to post, or are actual play threads not really a thing here?  I don't want to be "that guy" who constantly puts threads on a forum that are meh or not really what the forum is for.

Much more interesting to read than endless debates on Sword Trance!  Personally I like to see what others have been doing in their campaigns, so go for it! 🙂

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1 hour ago, Nevermet said:

and I reserve the right to ask for help when I get stuck

That's what we are here for! 🙂

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7 hours ago, Nevermet said:

I don't want to be "that guy" who constantly puts threads on a forum that are meh or not really what the forum is for.

If you don't totally feel like the forum is the right place, you can use the "Blogs" section of the forum, too. Other people have been using that to post actual plays. This has the advantage that each session's report is a separate blog post with its comments underneaths: basically one thread per session report, but tucked neatly in your own little corner.

But otherwise, one thread per adventure works fine too! Either way, I enjoy reading your group's games, so keep it up!

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Just now, lordabdul said:

If you don't totally feel like the forum is the right place, you can use the "Blogs" section of the forum, too. Other people have been using that to post actual plays. This has the advantage that each session's report is a separate blog post with its comments underneaths: basically one thread per session report, but tucked neatly in your own little corner.

But otherwise, one thread per adventure works fine too! Either way, I enjoy reading your group's games, so keep it up!

Thanks!  I like their antics too :)

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Calamity Comes to Selgos, Session 1

Short version: I love my players, and this gloriously gonzo campaign.

 

The Hook for the Session

The player characters are going to Selgos to cash in the favours an aristocrat owed them.  Also, one player has a magic item she wants to investigate.

 

Before IC Play

As my players are all completely new to Glorantha, I am dribbling out setting bits.  This session had a few bits:

  • An explanation of the Uz
  • An explanation of Castelein
    • An explanation that there are 52 total tombs with various body parts of Castelein.
    • IMG, the Great Tomb of Castelein in Selgos contains the right hand and both feet of Castelein
  • A discussion of the trade trying to shift toward the sea and Fay Jee, but friggin' Handra.

This went too long (just over half an hour), and everyone was getting impatient, but they were also asking a lot of questions.  


My plan for the Session

My goal was to set up a problem the PCs need to solve:

  • The aristocrat that owes them favours is in financial dire straights
  • To avoid bankruptcy, she has allowed recruiters from the warlord Greymane to set up shop at her vineyard just outside the the city walls of Selgos
    • One of the PCs was branded a coward for not properly killing and pillaging in Greymane's last march into Esrolia
  • The head recruiter's son is an obnoxious hothead, and he will cause violent trouble in town that may come back to haunt the PCs and their noblewoman

...that was my plan.

 

What Happened: None of That

  • The PCs also find out Greymane's men are in town, and none of them are big fans of a massive army, so they agree quickly they DEFINITELY need to make a ton of money to keep their noblewoman out of Greymane's pocket.
  • The Initiate of Donandar offered to put on a benefit concert.  They spend the day planning & promoting the concert
    • The Ditali healer actively avoids Greymane's men while promoting the concert.  He also finds out that herbs and alchemical components are being stolen from merchants in town.  He does not know that these are ogres collecting things to summon the Cacodemon.
    • The Merchant of Jubal rolls a COMPLETE VICTORY on trying to hunt down political gossip on the city, and a major victory for promoting the concert.  As a result, I basically showed her the core relationship map of the NPCs.  Also, I decided that since they are planning on holding the concert in honour of their noblewoman in the main plaza, I decided that the Greymane recruiters hold a rally in the plaza every night.  I am explicitly leaning into what the PCs are asking for, and I am going to give them a Manirian Battle of the Bands.
    • The Skald with the magical instrument plans the concert with the innkeeper who is allied with the noblewoman, Happy Steve.  Upon finding out that she will be having competition, she marches over to the Greymane-aligned bar, announces her intention to hold a concert, and then rolls to try to show her stuff.  She burns a HP to get a complete victory... using a magical instrument.  This game is increasingly inspired by Tenacious D.

 

And that was our short, 2.5 hour session.  The game is goofy and glorious as my PCs scheme their way into being economic players in Maniria, and the Bard is actively seeking fame and fortune.  Along the way, they're going to tick off Greymane's lieutenants, and confuse the current lord of Selgos, who is going to FREAK that his younger sister is apparently trying to endear herself to the public.

 

I love how proactive my players are.  They plow ahead, and make glorious messes that they totally own.

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To me actual plays  are very very welcome! Instead I lament (is it correct in english to use lament in this case?) the lack of actual plays nowadays. And moreover of true actual plays. Often there are no reference to the rules.

And remembering the times of storygames and "the forge" forums I have to underline that an actual play has not to be a very long text describing the whole session but it should usually be a report of the salient moments of play (but it can also be an almost complete trascription of the whole game if you have time and the will.

 

So seeing more actual plays of one of my favorite game makes only me happier :)

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Also, um... question: I don't want this to be a narcissistic activity, occasionally punctuated with cries for help.

How do I make an actual play thread that encourages discussion?

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As was said above, mention what rules are used and when. And why. Like, "My group was trying to cross the flooded plain and I let them discuss what their goal was and how they might accomplish it. In the end, they said they were going to try to push across by doing X, Y, and Z. So, I made it a group simple contest and decided it should be a costly automatic victory. Because if they don't get across the plain they can't further the plot by being framed for stealing x, y, and z." 

And it may just be me, but I love reading about a really great success or failure and when players surprise the gm. And any good lines! My Humakti, when talking about the Lunar witch the Half Death remarked, "I look forward to finishing the job." Ok, I think it is a good line!

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Regarding mechanics...

 

One thing my players are having trouble with is how specific HQ rules are about when you roll. 

You do not roll  just to see "what happens."  You roll when (1) Risk is emotionally interesting to the story, and (2) you need a specific goal and strategy.  I keep asking them what their goals and strategies are, but they are very locked in a mindset where every 10 feet they need to roll Climb Walls again.  However, they are getting the idea of augments, both of their own rolls, and helping out other characters' rolls.

 

Also, it took a few sessions, but they're all clear on what keywords vs abilities are now.

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Keywords and abilities are something our group has struggled with as well. Eventually it clicks. Most of the time. I still get them mixed up sometimes. LOL

 

The not needing to roll all the time is a big adjustment from other games. I like it, but we've played with people who did not. It's such a personal preference thing I suppose. As someone who wants to do badass and awesome stuff, I like being able to try and not know I'll fail cause I have a low str and there's no way I can accomplish this feat cause I am at disadvantage and etc. :D 

Gentle reminders are the way. @Shawn Carpenter has been reminding players before rolling starts to remember to think about what they are trying to accomplish and be able to explain it all before he decides if a roll is needed. 

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Story obstacle resolution is definitely an adjustment from task resolution, especially for old-timers like me who have been answering the question "what do you do" with an answer like "hit the orc with my sword" since 1976. ;) I still stumble from time-to-time, but I'm getting the hang of it!

 

 

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On 5/31/2020 at 4:00 AM, Nevermet said:

Regarding mechanics...

 

One thing my players are having trouble with is how specific HQ rules are about when you roll. 

You do not roll  just to see "what happens."  You roll when (1) Risk is emotionally interesting to the story, and (2) you need a specific goal and strategy.  I keep asking them what their goals and strategies are, but they are very locked in a mindset where every 10 feet they need to roll Climb Walls again.  However, they are getting the idea of augments, both of their own rolls, and helping out other characters' rolls.

 

Also, it took a few sessions, but they're all clear on what keywords vs abilities are now.

Especially if you have been coming for years of traditional RPGs, it is a bit difficult to get used to not having to roll for every action. However usually after a while I think you get used to it.
I can not bring my experience because, despite my age, many of my peers started with the red box or with the advanced d&d 1st edition, for a series of cases in life I "re-started" to play late and so I played more time non-traditional games than traditional games.

One piece of advice I would like to give, even if as I said I haven't tried it on the field, is that the players has to act as if they were in a story or a movie. But not so much in the sense that they must have a directorial attitude (and therefore make their character do the most interesting thing even if it conflicts with what the character wants) but rather to think that since they are the protagonists of the story (strong or weak protagonists, it doesn't matter ) we are not interested in seeing them do things of little value, like climbing a wall (unless the wall is very important in the plot, of course). That wall is either climbed or NOT climbed but all automatically.
Instead we are interested to see what the hell happens in the fundamental moments when they organize the concert, when they play at the concert, when they will fight with some NPCs for the resources necessary for the concert itself.
It doesn't matter if they know how to tune their instrument (unless this is one of a character's flaws, in which case it was the player himself who said being created to tell you "I want this disadvantage to be in the spotlight!" ).

 

Ah only compliments for the fact that you are playing a story with practically no fighting. It is precisely in a situation like this that Hero Quest shines and shows how it exalts situations in which one does not fight by integrating the mechanics with the free flow of roleplaying. In many other games you should either do all this part without mechanics (because they are oriented almost only to body-to-body combat) then do everything in free form (which can also be fun but, I personally prefer to be supported by mechanics if I need it) or even ignore the mechanics because they get in the ways.

 

 

 

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14 hours ago, Tartarosso said:

Ah only compliments for the fact that you are playing a story with practically no fighting. It is precisely in a situation like this that Hero Quest shines and shows how it exalts situations in which one does not fight by integrating the mechanics with the free flow of roleplaying. In many other games you should either do all this part without mechanics (because they are oriented almost only to body-to-body combat) then do everything in free form (which can also be fun but, I personally prefer to be supported by mechanics if I need it) or even ignore the mechanics because they get in the ways.

 

I have to point out this is very much my players' choice.  They've consistently chosen to make their characters non-combatants and look for non-combat solutions to things.  They really like the general strategy of using social skills to develop a political network, and then us HP to concretize the relationships. They're also having fun being goofballs, or I would suspect they'd want to take over a city.

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Prepping for tonight's game.

 

In short, they are putting on a concert, welcoming their allied noblewoman back to Selgos, promoting her wine, and taking donations so she can fight the (extremely undefined  and to-be-determined) Good Fight.

 

They will be doing so at the opposite end of a large plaza in Selgos, while recruiters from Greymane will be at the other.  More or less on principle the PCs have decided they need to annihilate all competition and get all eyes focused on them.  I have re-watched Scott Pilgrim vs the World for inspiration. 😜

 

The head of the recruiters is an initiate of Finovan the raider, but he is aided by an entire entourage.  The main people doing public recruitments are an initiate of Drogarsi the Skald, and an initiate of Issaries & Thereltero.  The recruiters are not really looking for trouble per se, they're just looking for warriors to join the next glorious invasion of Esrolia.  

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The plot of the session was very simple: The players set up a concert, and the bard of the group performs.  Meanwhile, at the other end of the plaza, Greymane's recruiter's are trying to drum up business.  2 side issues are becoming apparent:

  • 2 of my players are 12 years younger than me.  As a result, all Rush and Neil Peart jokes fell flat on them Wednesday night.  This saddens me greatly.  Rush is one of the reasons I moved to Canada, dammit!  ...ok, not really (my wife got a good job), but it sounded good.
  • The dicerolling bot I'm using in Discord loves my players.

 

What Happened

So, I tell them I want to ask them a series of questions, and how they answer will structure the mechanics for the session.

  • The first question I ask them is I know that they want to put on a great show, but what are the consequences of that?
    • After some lengthy discussion, they agree they want a concert that raises their profile, and as a secondary effect improves their noblewoman's standing (either in terms of reputation or financially, as they will be selling her wine at the event)
    • They're definitely starting to get that when dice are involved, it's not just trying to do something, but what's the point the matters.
       
  • I then ask each of the three players what their character is going to do to prepare for the concert.  These actions will have rolls, and they will end up being augments for the concert.
    • The merchant has a TBA spell on her sheet, and decides she wants it to be "Slap a Logo on it!" which allows her to etch a logo or brand on an inanimate object.  As this is gloriously thematic, I agree.  She then goes into the market and buys a ton of swag: scarves, tankards, hats, etc, and she brands them all with either the caravan's symbol, or the noblewoman's symbol.  "What's a good concert without swag?" she asks.  I cannot argue.
      • She rolls a marginal failure.  I rule that she has swag, but a lot of it is kinda cheap in an obvious sort of way.  They give no benefit to the concert, and if the concert isn't a success, she's going to have a "cash flow problem."
         
    • The Healer at first decides he's going to help make food in the kitchen, but then starts asking if he can try to find spirits in the plaza.  He's decided he'll let the others do immediate planning, because he wants to try to get more information on the Ogres and any other odd supernatural activity.  I was not ready for that question.... but I say sure as that has opportunities for fun.  One success later, he finds 2 spirits of note: An earth spirit is living in the arch of the main gate into the plaza, and some sort of warrior spirit that is small, in chains, and has been obviously cursed.  The earth spirit gets along with him, wants to tell him the history of the city walls over the last 4 centuries but isn't immediately helpful.  The earth spirit can, however, detect Chaos and other threats to the city walls, so it has sensed ogres passing through in the past.  The healer had less time to spend with the other spirit, but he learned he was a combat spirit summoned to help chase down an alleged ogre in an outlying village.  Things got out of hand, and the ogre escaped and a massive fire engulfed a lot of the town.  The spirit magician who controlled the spirit was exiled, and the spirit was cursed by a local shaman.  The spirit was VERY confident it acted in a very rational manner.  (I couldn't remember off the top of my head if there was a way to make an Uroxi spirit, but this was basically a stormbull anti-chaos spirit)
       
    • The Skald announces she's.... going to find a drummer.  Because what's a good show without a drummer?  So, she finds a drummer.  I ask her to give me the name of the tavern she finds him in, and she blurts out "The Broken Femur!"  Awesome.  I decide that the roll is not to find a drummer, but whether the drummer augments the concert mechanically.  She finds this guy, and his name is Neil:
      • bdba582aced6dd28055083b977435765_large.jpg
      • She rolls a marginal success, and she returns to the Plaza, Neil in tow.  The player of the Healer and I then try to explain who Neil Peart is to the other two players.  They are very nice and humour us middle-aged geeks politely.
         
  • I wanted the concert to be climactic... but honestly it wasn't.  I made the Recruiters stiff competition for attention, but the PCs rolled well and burned HP to win.  The result was a victory in 5 rounds, 5 points to 0.
    • One nice touch: the player of the skald had come with a music playlist of rock her PC was going to play.  We're definitely leaning into the game world being one big 1980s heavy metal video.  (and honestly, there are worse ways to do things)
       
  • My coup de grace, though was when the concert was finishing victoriously, I asked the Healer to make a Spirit roll.  The ogres have been shadowing the group since they killed an ogre in the 1st adventure, and the ogres saw the healer talking with an anti-chaos spirit (I'm going to assume there is an animist ogre in the mix somewhere, somehow).  Anyways, the ogres are not a fan of this, and assassinated the anti-chaos spirit during the concert.  The Healer failed his roll, so he did not see the murder, but he found the dying spirit after the concert.  Another failed roll, and the spirit died in his arms.  The Healer is NOT happy.

 

Closing situation

Here's where things stand now

  • The big issue in the game is now apparent to me: the ogres are in town, and they are going to summon Cacodemon to destroy Selgos unless the PCs stop them. 
  • Meanwhile, the Greymane recruiters are not happy with the players, and are going to angrily (but not violently at first) ask why the PCs ruined their recruitment for the next invasion of Esrolia.  Exactly how much they are a threat moving forward will depend on how the players manage them.
  • At the same time, the Noblewoman is just trying to figure out how to stabilize her situation, but the PCs are being PCs, the ogres want her dead, and now her older brother, the Lord Mayor of Selgos is going to have a paranoid concern that she's trying to take over the city.  She doesn't want to overthrow her brother, but she may find herself in a situation where she is either going to be killed or lead a palace coup.

Closing Thoughts

  • My players have gotten to a point where they want to do things they think make sense plot-wise, but they have no idea how its represented mechanically.  They assume I'l figure it out and let them know.  This is a mixed blessing: While I like their creative thinking (swag, get a drummer), I'm not COMPLETELY a fan of "just tell me what I need to roll, when."
     
  • They continue to succeed too much.  I worry they're going to get bored because they aren't being challenged enough.  If this was a combat oriented game, they would all be Steven Seagal characters: badasses who squint and then rip people limb from limb.  I realized I wasn't adjusting the base based on prior rolls, so I'm going to do that more moving forward.  I don't want to be one of those mean GMs, but players need to be challenged.  Its no fun if you just instantly win.
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4 hours ago, Nevermet said:

They continue to succeed too much.  I worry they're going to get bored because they aren't being challenged enough. 

This was one reason why I added intermediate levels of harder resistance as it created more challenges.  At the same time, there's some natural ebb and flow of difficulty.  The Pass/Fail method is one approach to that.  I find I just tend to wing it depending on my feel for what's happened recently.  Whatever works for you - it's really just a balancing between too easy and too hard, and keeping it changing without being too predictable (and it's also ok to have both very easy and nearly impossible in the mix).

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There's a musician, a merchant, and an eventual shaman.  If that's not a team to spread the Glory of Rock, I dunno what is ;) 

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@Nevermet

A question about setting the difficulty in the tests.
It is a problem that I have also encountered in HeroQuest in the past.
When you say "I realized I wasn't adjusting the base based on prior rolls" do you mean you didn't use the pass fail cycle of the manual? How did you determine the level of difficulty in general for the individual tests?

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