Voltari’s Respite

Gollum from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobb...

Yesterday, after spending most of the day scribbling, scrawling, drawing and fretting, I published a one-page encounter. Voltari’s Retreat isn’t a replacement for Stench of the Sea by any means, just something to tide people over while I finish my work.

Aaron McLin made a couple of very relevant points over at Google+ about Voltari’s Retreat. Firstly, the text should say garderobe, without the ‘U’. I will correct that in the next draft along with the errant spelling of Voltari (which becomes Viltori in several spots). While I hand-wrote all the text in the left panel of the one-pager, it shouldn’t pose much of a problem to make amends. A trifle of PhotoShop magic should suffice.

Voltari’s Retreat

Map square on a stickie noteWhile I continue to work on Stench of the Sea, I have tinkered with ways to create quick and simple maps. Right now, I find I get maximum creativity and quickest results using a Sharpie and a packet of sticky notes. I have some stickies bigger than the ‘standard’ size and some smaller – and, combined, they let me outline an area on the big ones, then zoom in on the small ones.

I originally tried posting an encounter and maps drafted out on the page of an old 2010 diary – and posted it over on Google+. Not content, I scanned the page and annotated the copy with a tool called Quick Markup, because I realised I missed out some details. Then, as if I really didn’t have other fish to fry (like finishing Stench), I drafted the whole thing using my previously outlined combination of stickies.

Sense of Purpose

One Of My Favourite Pictures Of Graham

While I didn’t manage to run a playtest session last night, I did participate in a Cthulhu Dark (Graham Walmsley’s excellent one-page system for running uncompromising Mythos sessions) adventure. While the Keeper (probably) had a plan and a map, I don’t think the adventure had much more preparation. No, I tell a lie – a sensed a hint of a Esoterrorist adventure in there with one very specific and memorable scene.

Basically the adventure had a very vague premise and characters with an awareness of each other and no common purpose. We had a reverend, a funeral director, a lady ex-drug addict, a hostillier, and an ice cream vendor – in a run-down, has-been village. The mayor announced a plan to bring fresh blood to the area with a coach load of immigrants or students (a little confused on the details from the beginning). When they arrived, the village held a fair, but the students (definitely students) seemed to be more interested in visiting a local lighthouse. The reverend (Reverend Ginger) witnessed their visit to the lighthouse and sensed something thoroughly disquieting about the whole affair. Anyway… I digress from the point.

Purpose. That’s my point.

In Place, Typeface, White Space

English: Waterstones

At the weekend, I spent some time wandering around Waterstones and a branch of W H Smith fingering my way through various books, manuals, magazines and newspapers. While I have a draft of my adventure module that stills demands attention, I admit to have become side-tracked with the business of layout.

I have been working on The Stench of the Sea as a boring old Word document. I’m looking to reformat into something slightly more appealing.

Playtesting the Stench 2

Dice for various games, especially for rolepla...

The playtest of my adventure module took a slide out into left field last night, as we lost two players and gained three to the vagaries of the real world. I think, under the circumstances, I managed to get it back on track under the pretext that one of the players not in attendance owed money, favours or anything else besides to the three newcomers. One, a Priest of Norn, had a warrant on Paraxis the Humble, our resident charlatan, which came just after an arrest warrant delivered by a messenger from the city. The upshot, Paraxis had an attempt made on his life, then ended up in jail with a serious bolt wound to the chest.

Another Dimension

Archer
Photo credit: Jacob Whittaker

Non-player character motivation came into focus during the playtest session I ran last Monday, short as that session was. In the two hours played, the characters not only had the opportunity to meet the village smith and the tavern keeper, but also Archer, the settlement owner and administrator.

I originally intended Archer as a simple landowner looking out for the well-being of his workers. A harsh, but fair, man, he had a history from time in the capital only briefly mentioned in the background. He would hire the characters to investigate problems because he didn’t want to risk his own assets, his miners. To him, losing a 100 silver pieces in fees seemed like small potatoes to losing a miner or three who would otherwise work out hundreds or thousands of silver pieces in valuable ore.

However, Archer’s trajectory took a bit of a turn…

No Expense Spared

Character Sheet for Something I Made Up rule systemThe ‘No Expense Spared’ character sheet for the System I Made Up ruleset used for the playtest on Monday. Assign 3-2-1 to the top boxes, then choose four traits associated with those attributes.

Want to wrestle a giant crab? Then roll Body + Heave. How about working out what all that screaming might be about without getting too close? Maybe a Soul + Sense. Need to cast a quick sonic blast spell? Then get that Mind + Recall sorted sharpish.

Throw as many six-sided dice as your Attribute + Trait. Add more dice if you can justify an advantage, a useful piece of equipment or beneficial circumstance. Roll a 5 or 6, a success; but lose a success if you roll a 1 or 2. Compare against the successes of an opponent if doing something contested.

Playtesting the Stench

Role Playing | Technology
Photo credit: Daniele Muscetta

If the game session last night has anything to teach me it is that you can’t underestimate the value of a playtest with a diverse group of players. I had a group of four and we played the initial element of the Stench of the Sea adventure module I have been working on. I think we may have worked our way through about two or three pages of the module proper. Given that we played for two hours, that might say more about the focus of my group than the practical longevity of the game. However, the game did support that length of play with locations, people and a combat encounter, so the text of the adventure did add into the mix.