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I haven't posted in a while.  Sorry.  It's been a complicated few weeks.

On 6/8/2020 at 8:03 AM, Tartarosso said:

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?

The short version is yes, though I also had a very wrong understanding of how the pass / fail cycle, so I didn't use it at all last session.  I don't think I'm bring it back this next session.

 

Anyways, last week, I was 1 player short, so the other two decided to be investigative, and the session abbreviated.  All three players have decided they are all shocked and appalled that someone would dare to assassinate a spirit, and they have more or less sworn revenge.

They tried to investigate the murder scene with minimal success, and then they realized they could look up help through their communities.  And thus began me making some improvised NPCs very quickly.

  • The Musicians Hall of Selgos is basically a Temple to Donandar.  I'm not 100% sure such things are common in the setting, but bah.  So, musicians often travel with the caravans, and there is often a musician's collective somewhere in or near the walled cities of the Trader Princes.  
    • "The Conductor" gave them rumours of ogres, though he has no idea what is true and what isn't.  He also told them there was strange, discordant music coming from a nearby hill out of the city about a month ago.  They checked it out later and found nothing, but the music sounded wrong to the magically sensitive musicians.
    • The musician PC has a magic item, an intelligent musical instrument.  The conductor failed his lying roll VERY badly when he claimed he didn't know anything about the magic item.  The musician PC, for political reasons, decided not to call the Conductor on the lie.
  • Next, they went to "Old Patch" of the Yellow Campers.
    • The Yellow Campers are a spirit society I developed with one of the players for his character.  They are, in short, the non-warrior auxilliaries that follow Manirian war-bands.  They hold camp, tend the wounded, make food, take care of animals and prisoners, etc.  His healer is a member of teh Yellow Campers, having turned his back on being a warrior.
    • The Yellow Campers are found throughout the Manirian Tribes, and they have a hospital camp just outside the walls of Selgos.  Old Patch in their unofficial leader.
    • The PCs were VERY diplomatic and repectful, and that paid off well.  They were told details about how the spirit that was killed was part of razing a village to the ground in an attempt to kill an ogre there.  They were also told where that vilage used to be, and that the shaman of the village probably is still there.  They were also told some details about the ogres, who are DEFINITELY in town.
      • (What the PCs do not know yet is that the ogres are working on a ritual to summon the cacodemon)

 

So, next session, they are debating whether to go out to the village, or do something in town.  They're probably going out of town.

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9 hours ago, Nevermet said:
  • The Musicians Hall of Selgos is basically a Temple to Donandar.  I'm not 100% sure such things are common in the setting, but bah. 

The temple of Drogarsi in Dundealosford is a basically a tavern. LOL So, I say go for it. Performing artists are a special sort!

I am enjoying the recaps. My money would be on leaving town too! Players have to explore!

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Also, we have an agreed upon summary of the game:

"A Rockstar, her manager, and their spiritual adviser fight an evil conspiracy of evil."

I submit that Comic Sans is the correct font for that sentence.

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Also, I have created a relationship map of key NPCs.  White are Manirian tribespeople.  Yellow are the Trader Princes of Selgos (with Purple & Green as other TP groups).  Black are ogres.  Blue are Greymane's men.  Circles are NPCs, and diamonds are communities.  As I organized this, two things became apparent.  First, I set things up that the ogres are in town, but they don't really have control of the city, which explains why they're just trying to blow it up.  Second, the PCs are heavily leaning into getting help from the Manirians to solve the ogre problem, rather than leaning into their Trader Prince contacts, trying to play nice with Greymane's men, etc.  

736497166_SelgosRelationshipMapNokids.thumb.jpg.edb1cfb54706416b319a4083fff8b3a0.jpg

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Back in undergrad, gaming sessions were most of a Saturday.  We'd start gaming a little after noon, and end around 11PM.  As an adult, with 3 adult players, that's not really an option.  So, sessions are now 2- 2.5 hrs, online.  Fortunately, I realized before the 1st game that would mean I can cover much less ground in a session, and that I needed to figure out pacing for this capaign.

 

I don't have the pacing down perfectly yet, but I'm getting there.  Last week, the PCs told me what last night's session was supposed to be about: they were going to leave Selgos to investigate a small village that was partially destroyed by a berzerk spirit that was trying to kill an ogre (it failed).  I knew they would go, and they would meet the Kolati shaman who lives near the village, and he would help the with understanding the ogres a bit more.  I also knew that whenever things slowed down, there would be a threat of violence: the ogres know the PCs are around, and the PCs have already killed 1 ogre.  It stands to reason the ogres are going to target them.    The PCs, being PCs, are aware teh ogres are onto them,but haven't realized that means they are in danger, bless their hearts.  Oddly, I've come to the conclusion the less I plan, the more fun everyone has, because I just react to what the PCs do.

 

Anyway, on the way out of town, the healer remembered that the Conductor of the Donandari talked about a hill outside of town where a few weeks passed, there was weird music being played.  So, on their way to investigate the village, they stop at the hill and investigate.  They all roll profoundly mediocre scores, so I decide they (1) have a vague notion of a chaotic taint at the hill, and (2) they find a disorder rune burnt into the top of the hill.  They surmise that bad rituals go on here.  The healer has a fire spirit companion (that looks like a flaming terrier) that has the ability "agent of purification," so they sick the dog on the hill to try to destroy the chaotic taint.  The spirit gets a minor victory, so I rule the hill has been damaged as a site of ritual magic for the ogres.  I also tell teh PCs they can do more, but it would take the day.  The PCs really want to get to the village, though, so they decide that's enough screwing up ogre ritual for now, and head out.

 

They get to the village, and I ask one of the players to tell me its name.  She wasn't expecting that, and stammered out, "Lilly of the Valley-Ville," and I just run with it, cuz thats the sort of game this is.  It's not necessarily the campaign I planned on running, but everyone seems to like the light humour that pervades everything, so we go with it.

 

They find the village of Valley-ville, and as they were told, half of it is a charred ruin.  streaks of ash run up the hillsides.  A cautious watchmen greets them as they ride into town.  They ask where they can find the shaman, they tell them.  They find the Kolati Shaman Windcliff, and they just explain everything very openly: They run a merchant caravan, they came to Selgos, they found a spirit that was cursed, and then it was killed.  They then found out it was an anti-chaos spirit of some kind, summoned to kill an ogre, but it ended up destroying this village rather than the ogre.  

 

The shaman filled in some more bits: animals around the village were being slaughtered and mostly left to rot in the wilderness.  Crops were being ruined.  strangers were lurking in the wood, so the shaman contacted another shaman who had a reputation for rooting out evil.  ...That shaman, unfortunately, summoned a spirit that destroyed the town, and no ogres were killed, even though the investigating shaman swore ogres were lurking.

 

A bit more conversation happens, and they start to talk about ritual magic: What rituals could ogres do.  The Kolati talked about 3 possibilities: (1) they erode the function of the law rune around the city, enabling lawlessness, (2) they summon the cacodemon to destroy the city, or (3) something he doesn't know about.  The PCs realized the ogres have probably been behind the rash of alchemist robberies they've heard about, and they begin to Worry(tm).

 

That night, the musician decided she would cheer up the town (and satiate her sentient instrument) by throwing a concert in town in the large, intact barn in the village.

The concert goes well, and during the small talk after the concert, the watchperson ran in to warn everyone that there are riders in the night, watching the town.  The PCs quickly realize they are probably the ogres (or their agents).  They begin trying to figure out how to get the villagers out the barn and how to confront the riders, who have now started chanting and entering the village.

 

Next week: We Fight.

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Posted (edited)

Oh, and mechanically, my players are getting the hand of the basic success & victory structure of rolling.  They're all rather amazed that a game can be fun without it being combat oriented, which I'm amused at.

 

I'm slightly worried they think next session they need to go into COMBAT MODE! and act like its a bland dungeon crawl event where the PCs must engage in mortal combat with The Enemy(tm), and both sides will slug it out until everyone on one team is dead.

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When we have sessions that will involve combat, @Shawn Carpenter will ask the players what they want out of their turn when the fighting can start. Especially those who go first. "OK, there are creepy monsters here. What do you want to accomplish on your turn? How are you going to do that?" Because, sometimes, a player wants to talk to the creepy monsters...didn't work. They attacked them anyway! But I tried. It does help trigger ideas that are not just Hulk Smash!

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That is a very valid point, but sadly not the only one.  I need to consistently have a handle to use the rules to facilitate play and resolve points were the outcome is important but uncertain.

 

Will write more later.  

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The story that unfolded Wednesday night continues to be a relatively light adventuring romp as 3 characters not min-maxed for combat attempt to unravel a conspiracy of ogres operating in the Trader Prince city of Selgos and beyond.

 

Last game ended with them in a barn, trying to usher villagers to safety as dark riders at the edge of town began chanting for the PCs to come out.

Here's the game in summary:

The Villagers went one way, the healer sent his dog to find the local shaman, and the PCs devised a plan.  The merchant PC (who is also the least combat-ready of the 3 PCs) snuck out the back with the villagers, and then snuck around several buildings to flank the riders.  Meanwhile, the warrior-turned-healer and bard with a magic axe flung open the barndoors to chat with the riders

There were 3 riders.  The leader introduced himself as the cousin of the Ogre the PCs killed in the 1st scenario.  However, they are not here to kill the PCs, they are here to take the PCs back to Selgos to meet someone.  The players have taken to heart my description of Chaos as a force that wishes to unmake the world, and so they have no interest in going with the ogres.  Instead, they try to lure the riders off their horses and into the barn.  They do this by... coming up with a patently ridiculous story about having a very large amount of luggage which they need the ogres to help them carry.

At this point, the merchant uses two of her more dangerous spells to good effect: "Curse with Aphasia," and "Forget Orders."  She's a merchant from Jubal, and specializes in communication sorcery.  In either case, she utterly befuddles one of the riders.

Meanwhile, the other two PCs have decided to continue heckling the riders by insisting on the luggage story, despite the fact nobody believes them.  

Eventually, the leader ("Jim the Ogre") loses his temper.  The idea that he had to safely escort humans back to a patriarch is bad enough, but the fact these humans killed his cousin, and are now trying to make him look like a fool... it was too much.  So, he and the other rider engage combat.  The Ditali healer and Nimistori skald bum-rush Jim, ignoring the 3rd ogre.  The merchant, meanwhile, has charged the befuddled ogre and forced him into a bizarre, rambling conversation to keep him out of combat.  A moment later, Jim gets crunched by the two PCs, collapsing in a dying heap.  The skald looks to the ogre taht was with Jim and says, "You can flee now."  The ogre feels this is a good idea, and does so.  On his way out, he grabs the attention of the befuddled ogre, who realizes he should go too.  

 

The party then heals Jim enough that he isn't dying, tie him up, and interrogate him. They decide to do full-on psychological warfare on him, with sleep deprivation, healing, music, and the hyper-likable merchant being the good cop.  The result is that Jim utterly breaks, willing to tell them anything to try to save himself.

  • The PCs get the name of the Ogre patriarch of Selgos: Cauv.
  • They discover the ogres are in fact trying to summon the Cacodemon to destroy Selgos
  • A Human Cacodemon cult helping the Ogres are called the Holy Survivors, as they have been promised the Cacodemon will spare them.
  • The Ogres have seen the Skald's super magic axe, and they want it, but for reasons that Jim the Ogre does not know, Cauv wanted her to give it to him (coercion ok, kiling her and taking it not ok).

The PCs, Jim tied and in tow, are returning to Selgos now.  They are unsure how much of the city's rulers are compromised, but things are going to get messier, one way or another.

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Mechanically, there are two things:

  • My players really are in a frame of mind where they ask, "Can I roll X?"  There's a few issues there.  First, it flips Vincent Baker's maxim of "say yes or roll the dice." on its head to become, "Say no or roll the dice."  I'm working through that.  I also realize I need to be more assertive (and to a lesser extent consistent) in my rulings.
     
  • I was expecting this to be a combat of some kind, and it was.  However, from my POV, it was slightly anti-climactic.  I think I did a few things wrong.
    • I let the merchant be too creative with the "forget orders" spell.  It's not a general amnesia, its a "What did the Boss want again?"  Instead, it was a general confusion, which worked well for the PCs and was entertaining, so... eh.
    • The fight between the 2 PCs and the 2 ogres was an extended group contest.  However, it turns out I'm completely confused how to do that when the 2 PCs gang up on 1 opponent.  Fortunately, they rolled so well they got 5 RPs in 1 round, so it was sort of moot.  
      • I'm also not sure what I should have done with the other ogre mechanically.  Narratively, I guess it worked for him to flee after seeing his boss get stomped.

In short, I'm not confident in my knowledge of the rules, but my players are enjoying outsourcing all rulings to me.  Which feels... odd?

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1 hour ago, Nevermet said:

However, it turns out I'm completely confused how to do that when the 2 PCs gang up on 1 opponent. 

It's fairly straightforward - you just have two combats vs. the one foe, each working to get to 5 RP. The 1st attacker takes on the foe at full difficulty. The 2nd attacker gains the multi-foe benefit (i.e. the difficulty is reduced by 3 for each subsequent attacker).  This provides some ability for the attackers (usually the 2nd attacker) to defeat a single really tough foe.  Often what my players do in a situation such as 3x3 with one really good foe is to do 2x1 vs. the good foe (wear them down and gain the multi-foe benefit) and then have a 1x2 fight vs. the weaker foes using the Defensive fight mechanism (don't get any good hits but can keep multiple opponents reasonably at bay).

1 hour ago, Nevermet said:

I'm also not sure what I should have done with the other ogre mechanically.  Narratively, I guess it worked for him to flee after seeing his boss get stomped.

Seems reasonable. The question might be what insight or information he provides to the next higher Boss - information that prepares them for the PC's, or even lures the PC's into a trap.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

We had an abbreviated game last night, but it was a case study in how dice can really help the story.  Or, put another way, you know a game is going well when the players OOC laugh and cheer when an NPC gets a Major Victory for resisting their IC efforts.

 

The events were very, very simple:

  • They leave the small village they visited, with their captured ogre (Jim) in tow.  Their goal is to hand him over to the Ruling Trader Prince of Selgos, to get his help in routing out the ogre conspiracy.
    • They're paranoid about Ogre assassins attacking them or killing Jim, so they planned a lot to get Jim safely back to town. 
  • They get back to the city, talk their way through several gates, and then are left waiting, at dusk, to be allowed into the Princely Ward at the center of Selgos.  While waiting, they begin to worry that they are being watched, and they harrass the gua
  •  
  • rds into going and  see what's taking so long.  They manage to send all the guards away for a moment, at which point they realize they are alone in a usually busy courtyard.  Panic sets in. Panic leads to them breaking the gate lock and getting into the Princely Ward, just as the guards were returning to escort them to the Steward of Selgos.
  • Steward Dom appears to the Court Pavilion at roughly the same time the PCs do, accompanied by his guards and still donning his regalia.  He is a tall, rough looking man, whose age is amplified by his Patrick Stewart level of baldness.
  • The Merchant PC whose distinctive trait is "Always Likeable" charms the pants off the Steward, offering a powerful tale of how they came to be investigating the ogres.  The Steward has Jim the Ogre escorted away, and asks the PCs to continue investigating.  They will talk more in the morning.
  • Meanwhile, the Skald PC peers into the darkness around the Court, and sees a figure standing there, motionless.  She points it out to the Steward, who also peers into the darkness, only to recognize him as the Chief Wizard of the Great Tomb of Castelein, and the Steward's Brother-in-Law.  Suspicious, the skald demands to know why he was in the darkness.  The Wizard explains he heard a commotion, came, and then stopped, stunned, when he heard talk of ogres.  All the PCs agreed he seemed amazingly sincere and honest.

That doesn't sound like a lot.

But each of those bullet points involved rolls by the players they were genuinely worried about.  They constantly were looking over their sheets to see what they could possibly use to make a solid roll or augment a roll.  They've figured out they can assist each other.

Also, because EVERY roll is resisted, they were only slightly suspicious when I had the Wizard roll to resist them trying to see if he was lying.  When they all rolled ok, but not great, and then he rolled a critical with a bump, they all started laughing hysterically.  It was the first 1 I have rolled as a GM.  And they immediately all just jumped on the idea that this Wizard is AMAZING.  "I want to lend him money!"  on exclaimed.

 

This continues to be a light game, but everyone is having fun, and the group is working well together.

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Things I to add to the game:

First, I want more mythology & heroquesting.  Right now, it's a bronze-age fantasy game where 3 non-combat characters struggle against an Eeevil conspiracy.  It's not really about the gods, religion, the elder races, etc.  I have a few plans on how to change this.  I haven't done this yet for two reasons.  First, as a GM, I'm more comfortable dealing with social-political webs rather than mythical ones.  More accurately for Glorantha, it's all one web, but I'm comfortable focusing on the former strands rather than the latter strands of that web

Because the players are new to Glorantha, I pepper them during the week with a couple images of distinctive Glorantha lore.  The amazing pic of Heler that went around a week ago, the story of Arkat, etc.  This week, I introduced them to the Ducks, and lo they were amazed ;) I then made them rather disappointed when I told them there is not a Duck community in Maniria, and then I showed them a pic of the Newtlings.  Upon hearing that the Dragonewts like to use them as slave labour, one of the players, bless their heart, suggested a future adventure where the characters go forth to set the Newtlings free from their bondage.  They truly have no idea what they're suggesting, and it's glorious.

 

I suspect I deal with the 1st point in spades to the point I take the second point seriously.  I dunno how you'd try to deal with Dragonewts without serious mojo backing you up.

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Just a short update

 

We had a short, 2 hour session this week.  The previous session ended with the party handing an ogre over to the ruler of Selgos, and then going to bed.  They're plan was get a good night's sleep, and then figure out the next move to hunt the ogres.

 

The ogres, however, are proactive.  The players have captured on of their own after killing another.  So... they kill one of Greymane's men in the city and set a massive fire in the Welcoming Third (the merchant ward).  The ogres are worried they won't have time to summon the cacodemon, so its time to unleash whatever mayhem they can, try to get Greymane's army involved just to create more potential for conflict, and then look for opportunities to tear things down. 

 

The party spent the session trying to figure out how to help with the fire, and investigating things after the fact.  After many bad rolls, they finally realized one of the dead was a recruiter for Greymane.  

 

The player agenda are really starting to fuel the game.  The healer is dumping every HP he can into spirit to become a shaman eventually.  As a group, they are angling for all sorts of political power.  And they're generally defining themselves more and more as anti-chaos hunters.  Oh, and the bard came up with a neat idea: she wants magic, based off her Harmony rune and her connection to Donandar, to create a feat that detects the discordant rhythms of Chaos flowing through the world.  I was happy with that.

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That is an amazing idea for a feat. Ask her if I can steal it for a player in our game new to Glorantha as well and playing a Donandar. :D Just for the home game.

Letting the players set the agenda is a great way to learn what they want to know more of in a new setting. There's no need to overload them with everything and find out only 10% is what they truly care for.

Also, sounds like there needs to be a durulz pass through just for them to meet. ;) Not saying we added a durulz innkeeper in the Dundealos Valley just cause I love them so much. But, well, there he is in book 2 of the saga.

 

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I'm sure she'd be happy to let you steal it.  I really love how players who get Glorantha (or at least an aspect of it) can use the open-endedness of the HQ rules to their advantage :) 

 

I'm planning on their being a Humakti Duck troop they meet at some point, hired by Kaxtorplose to defend them against the Dragonewts.

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3 hours ago, Nevermet said:

I'm planning on their being a Humakti Duck troop they meet at some point, hired by Kaxtorplose to defend them against the Dragonewts.

It's not Glorantha without durulz and trollkin! (Not just cause I like the funny voices the GM makes with them! Ok. But mostly.)

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On 7/18/2020 at 1:11 AM, Nevermet said:

The party spent the session trying to figure out how to help with the fire, and investigating things after the fact.  After many bad rolls, they finally realized one of the dead was a recruiter for Greymane.  

Investigation rolls are a great time to use costly automatic successes. This allows you to ensure that the players get the info they need to move the story forward, while potentially suffering for bad rolls or benefitting from great rolls. I usually assume that any result gets them the info they need, but failures include some potentially misleading information and brilliant successes allow them to deduce something else that increases he value of the clue.

If my players are investigating something that doesn't impact the story (although they may THINK it does), I have them make normal contests and narrate the results however I see best. Frequently that involves me messing with their minds. :D I like false rumors better than "you don't uncover any useful information." It keeps my players on their toes. :D

 

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I did a costly automatic success for when the bard helping to organize the bucket brigade from the river.

And yeah, false rumours are fun.  Another thing I've done which was fun and shocked a player was they did an investigation, rolled a total victory, and I asked them what they wanted to find.

 

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2 hours ago, Nevermet said:

they did an investigation, rolled a total victory, and I asked them what they wanted to find.

YES! This is an awesome tactic to use. Give the PCs a chance to influence the story without spending any Hero Points. That's a great suggestion, that I'll definitely start using!

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I get it from games like Houses of the Blooded (or much older, Donjon), where rolling successes doesn't mean "Do the thing" as much as "establish facts."  It could be you hit them, or it could be that the building catches fire, or whatever.  

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I guess in HQ rules, it really comes down to the question of goal & strategy.  I think it's potentially fun to encourage players to say things like, "I want to establish there is a secret passage using my Masonry ability" as opposed to "I want to check to see if there is a secret passage using my masonry ability."

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