February 24th, 2012


OrcCon 2012: Saturday

Continuing with Saturday:

The Wayward Shipment (Morning)
I hadn't played Mouse Guard before, and I'd had a brief conversation about its use for Shadowrun, so in some ways, this was a research mission for CyberWorld. It definitely simplified Burning Wheel's arcane mechanics down to a one-shot-suitable level, which I liked, and it helped us tell a nice little story about finding a lost shipment of medical supplies. I'm not sure if I got much out of it at a research level, but it was a fun game with a cool ending as our little mice braved a storm on a flooded lake, found the shipment and negotiated a settlement with two rival mouse villages and a bandit band.

Living Dungeon World: The Spine of the Gods (Afternoon)
This was part of the second round of Living Dungeon World games. In the first round of adventures, the players had discovered that someone was attempting to resurrect Orcus (he'd been killed by another Demon lord). In this second round, the adventurers were tasked with recovering the two parts of the Wand of Orcus, the rod and the skull, before the his followers could get them. My game concerned the rod, which lay amidst a dragon's treasure.

This was my first Living Dungeon World game of the weekend was the only one I'd properly prepped. I had two fronts, a couple of main monsters stated up, some custom moves, a few pieces of treasure, and a good idea about what the place looked like. In fact, I'd even run the dungeon before (with different fronts and monsters), as a prelude, a couple of weeks ago in Wellington. This is not my usual MO for DW, but it went really well.

The players I had included a set of friends who had, with no previous experience of Dungeon World (or, I think, the Strategicon scene), signed up for every round of Living Dungeon World, including Colin's round 0 villager prelude game on Friday afternoon. It was a four player game and three of the characters had continued from at least round 1.

The first part of the game was an arduous journey across the Lands of the Horse Tribes who Leave Not Their Steeds (where they impressed the horsemen with their strength, offended the spirits of the ancestors, but appeased the cult of Those Who Walk), the Plains of Woe (where they avoided being eaten by the carnivorous plants that dotted the bare earth), and the Desert of Steel (lifeless and razor-sharp, of course) where they nearly run out of supplies. The evil Cleric, Boots, converted the Wizard, Ysolde, to the worship of the Banshee Queen with promises of great power, and sacrificed and reanimated two healers hired by the Fighter, Chopps, when the food ran out.

Once inside the Spine of the Gods (essentially a barrow mound within which lay a dragon and a pile of treasure), they fought off a swarm of nasty beetles then, after hearing the Dragon roaring in anger, made camp in a small tomb after which they raised on of the inhabitants as an undead minion (Boots, Speaking with Dead: "Out of the people currently in this room, who is the toughest". Dead Warrior: "Me." Boots: "Animate Dead".) While this was going on, Emory the Ranger, who had been approached and converted by a vengeful nature spirit/god called Fern-Thrall (h/t drbunnyhops), approached the dragon with the mission of his new master in mind: to convince the dragon to ravage the horse tribes. The dragon's previous roar had been his discovery that the rod of Orcus had been stolen, so with a deft Parley roll and no small amount of pant wetting, the Ranger convinced the dragon that the Horse Tribes had stolen it. The party now set off in pursuit of the real thieves, the Orcus cult, but they lost them in the wastes.


The Kurosawa Extraction (Evening)
This was my second playtest of CyberWorld and was a much more rigourous affair than the first. I learnt a lot about what I have and what I want, some of which has since been written into the game, and some of which will be soon. We played with 6 players, which didn't really work in gameplay; like Apocalypse World, it really needs time to be spent on interpersonal scenes between players and NPCs. The best thing about the playtest was probably the buzz that it generated among the players. Over the subsequent days of the con, and over the last week on Twitter and G+, I've had many conversations with the playtesters about the game. Exciting!

OrcCon 2012: Sunday

Pirates DBG (Morning
Rob (@azaroth42) and I are working on a deck building game of fantasy pirates. It turns out the event was on the schedule, but incorrectly such that eight people had signed up for a four player game. Fortunately only half of them turned up, so we were able to handle it. We played three games, all of which played well and produced some useful feedback. We were both pretty happy with the way the game looked and played. Kaitlynn Peavler's doing the art and it looks sweet.

Living Dragon World: Clean Up Duty (Afternoon)
We had four extra players (could have possibly picked up even more), so I ran an unscheduled breakout session of Living Dungeon World on Sunday Afternoon. While the two main groups were attempting to recover the rod and destroy the skull respectively, this group (including Ysolde from Saturday afternoon) was tasked with cleaning up the mess that the dragon had made of the Horse Tribes. There was a swarm of cave rats and several Ice-Rock golems to content with, then a tough fight with the dragon, but by the end, the band was victorious, if somewhat scarred by the experience.

The characters were Ysolde (now in the hands of a different player) who was unerring in his ability to strike his companions with his magical bolts and blasts; Halek the Ranger and his stupid but enthusiastic bear companion who insisted on eating everything that wasn't disintegrated by Ysolde's fireballs; Karas, the Cleric of the Unspoken Lord who had taken a vow of silence and had fought evil with only his pure body; and Omar the good-hearted thief (who had continued with the same player from the previous round).

Living Dungeon World: The Tower of the Flame (Evening)
The grand finale session! At my table, Ysolde, Halek and Omar (with new players at the helm of the first two) were joined by Regulus the Paladin and Daelwyn the Bard to destroy the Flame of Orcus, the villager who had resurrected the demon lord and now scourged the land clad in Orcus' bone exoskeleton and at the head of his undead hordes. At Colin's table, Boots, Chopps, Cherish and Emory ventured to Orcus' home plane to slay the demon while he was weakened by his connection to the Flame.

The band travelled to the city of Dusk's Harbour, Omar's home, where the Flame had established his tower of bone focus his siphoned power. On the way the fought skeletons, ghoul-zombies and death knights, before infiltrating the tower and facing the Flame himself on a platform atop the tower, crackling with magical energy!

Somehow the Flame had recovered the rod, but Daelwyn fascinated him with his bardic tongue and Halek shot it from his grasp. Omar seized his opportunity, snatched up the rod from the edge of the platform and vanished over the edge and into the woods (10+ on the Thief escape move!). Halek's arrows and Ysolde's fireballs carried the day, the former wearing down the Flame and the latter blasting apart the construct which allowed him to siphon power from Orcus himself. The Flame in turn was thwarted by Ysolde's mirror images, until the Wizard had only his magical construct left. He tried to throw his simulacrum in the way of the Flame's crushing fist, but missed (<6!). "The fist drives into you for 30 points of damage", I said. A killing blow! Then, from the other side of the table, a hand is interposed, thrust between me and Ysolde's player, as Regulus the Paladin spends his last two hold on defense to throw himself in front of the Flame's fist, halve the damage, and survive on 2 hit points! One more shot from Halek and the Flame, his bone armour now all ablated by the weakening magic of the tower, teeters, then BLAM! Ysolde blows the floor of the platform wide open sending the Flame crashing to his death.

At the other table, the heroes have crushed Orcus' will, convinced him that with his power stolen he is a pale shadow of his former self, and he should abandon his plans (epic Parleys!) when I sidle over to Colin.
"They just killed the Avatar"
"What happened to his power?"
"It's going back to where it came from."
"Which is?"
Colin turns back to his table.
"Before you faced a powerless demon, NOW YOU FACE A GOD!" As Orcus shifted gravity through ninety degrees and sends everyone falling across his demonic realm.
I went back to my table.

There followed some falling through the fireball hole, some rescue attempts and failures, the sacrifice of Halek's bear to save his life, and Ysolde stabilising the decaying magical power of the tower and allowing the heroes to escape.

Then we, along with the small audience which had now gathered, all watched as Orcus was defeated in an epic and fatal battle and the world saved.


My 2011 Music Charts

It's late, but I'm going to do it anyway, in no small part because I'll enjoy reading it again next year. Even if it will be a bugger to find on my LJ calendar... Here's what I had to say last year; the same caveats apply to 2011.

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I don't think there are any purchases on the immediate horizon, but I note that I haven't yet bought Manslaughterer.

OrcCon 2012: Monday

Geiger World Playtest (Morning)
Gonzo Peyote, the telekinetic cactus; Click, the giant insectoid; Motel, the sentient roach swarm; and Pylon, the electrokinetic hawkoid (re-skined as a lightning bug). We battled mutant rabbit men, irradiated trees, psychotic robots, and an immense sentient tree from another world in search of food for our small forest community.

Geiger World is the working title of Colin's hack of Dungeon World for Gamma World-style mutant apocalyptic gaming. Because Gamma World is cool, but the system is... not as fast-paced and action orientated as one would like. After playtesting this at Big Bad Con last year with an awesome character, and not being a fan of entirely random character generation, I was a little reluctant to play it again with a different character. But not to fear, once again the dice produced a little bundle of mutated apocalyptic awesome and a great final game to the con was had.

I have a few ideas for a Aotearoa After the Bomb expansion for when Colin puts this in motion, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Mmmm. Peeled... eyes!