I spent all the Sunday sessions camped out in the Games on Demand rooms, so none of these games were on the schedule.
Session 4: The Adventures of Throndar the Barbarian ON THE MOUNTAIN OF FIRE! Dungeon World.
I don’t like to run games with more than four or five players these days. I usually advertise all my games a 4 player games, and will sometime accept a fifth. With that said, I’m not sure exactly how I ended up with six in this game. Despite that, this was right up there with the best Dungeon World games I’ve been involved in thanks in no small part to a table full of excellent players.
When I’m running one off games, I like to get some adventure seeds from the players then craft them into something while the players make their characters. In this case, I gave each player two pieces of paper and had them write a fantastic location on one and a terrible monster on the other. I was going to pick one of each at random, but several of them worked well together, so I used about eight of the suggestions in this game (which I described as the serious suggestions), and shelved the rest (the wacky suggestions) for round six. The resulting adventure was traversing a fetid swamp to reach the lair of a fire demon in a Dragon graveyard atop volcano. Badass, bring it!
The characters were as awesome as the adventure seeds:
- Walton, Chef to the Tzars, (Dennis) the Fighter who carved up defeated enemies for rations.
- Fo Thun the Petulant, (Ian) the Wielder of Magicks, Blinder of Lizardmen, Dowser of Fire Demons!
- Zorica, the Cleric of Zorica, (Rose) having saved the mayor’s daughter now teaming up with a new Throndar the Barbarian and on the hunt for converts...
- The ever so polite Sir Ptolemy Chumley-Smythe Worthingtonsonness (Svend), Paladin of bloody vengeance.
- A different Throndar the Barbarian (Nick), with Smoldering eyes, revealing leathers, elaborate tattoos, mighty thews (of course), “strange” piercings and, as it turned out, a penchant for narcolepsy.
- Melliandre the Elven bard (Sam), gifted with a bewitching voice by Zorica.
The adventure began with Walton leading the party through the swamp, secretly in search of a legendary manticore (the culinary equivalent of a box of assorted chocolates), while Melliandre regaled them with the tale of a hero who had soothed a giant bat with music and a particular food and ridden it on a might quest. On the way through the swamp they were ambushed by lizardmen, the leader of whom Throndar messily decapitated. Sir Ptolemy recruited the survivors as bearers, mostly for the sleepy Throndar – berserking is tiring work! On the body of the leader they found a crude map showing a couple of paths, “home” and “pit of death and batshit”. The body of the leader himself was rendered down for rations by Walton.
Continuing to the crossroads marked on the crude map where they camped for the night, resolving to approach the pit of death and batshit in the light of day. During Throndar’s watch, they were ambushed by a large band of lizardmen. The ensuing fight was chaotic: Throndar was off in the swamp berserking amongst a group of lizardmen; Walton picked up his shield-cum-wok from the camp fire and, resisting the heat, threw it at a large lizardman, but the lizardman ducked and the shield sunk into the swamp with a hiss, where it elluded his attempts to recover it; Fo Thun, Melliandre and Zorica all spent most of their time wrestling with lizardmen in the camp while Sir Ptolemy dressed with the air of his bearers and went to their aid. As the dust settled in the camp proper, the still-raging Throndar rushed screaming from the swamp, across the camp, and back into the swamp, pursing a single lizardman with multiple wounds and blinded by Fo Thun who had cast embers into his face with his staff. Squelch.
Amongst the loot was a bag full of big bugs and mushrooms and a magical net. Fo Thun spouted lore and declared that the favoured food of bats was truffles, but that mushrooms would be close enough. Thus they continued to the pit where they battled a fierce manticore while ankle deep in the bones of its previous victims. Despite the attempts of several of the group to ensnare it in the magical net, it was left to the mighty axe of Throndar to slay the beast; the cover of this chapter of Melliandre’s tale would no doubt feature an airborne barbarian leaping at the leonine face of a similarly airborne leaping manticore. Walton butchered the manticore and imagined the feast he would serve to his wealthy patrons back in the city, they searched the bones for gold, finding a Sword of Man Slaying, partially by the misfortune of Throndar having fallen on it during the struggle.
When the giant bats returned, they tamed them with song and mushroom, mounted them and rode them to the dragon graveyard atop the mountain of fire. Needing to summon forth the demon, Melliandre related how demons could usually be summoned forth by offering a virgin, so Sir Ptolemy was tied to a giant dragon skull and Throndar gave forth a might yell of challenge.
In response, a giant shadow appeared in the belching flame and a demonic figure emerged down from the caldera to the graveyard making for the skull, its four arms wreathed in flame. Melliandre spouted lore once more about how fire demons eat their sacrificial meal after they have crushed their enemies, and battle was joined. Throndar ran up a dragon spine and leaped at the demon, hacking off one of its arms while Walton attacked it from below and was thrown repeatedly into a dragons ribcage. Seizing upon an idea, Zorica offered to deflower Sir Ptolemy, but only if he converted to her... religion... Rose rolled a 10+ on her Parley and Svend chose to... mark experience.
By now the demon had seized Throndar in two of its arms and was squeezing him with flame-wreathed claws. Fo Thun had collected waterskins and dowsed the demons legs, extracting a roar of pain, and the removal of the offering disrupted its demonic energies causing an arm to hang limp. Finally, as Melliandre sung a heroic lay, Throndar bit out the throat of the demon.
That game won Best Single Session, for which I picked
Nick's writen a description from Throndar's perspective.
Session 5: The Kurosawa Extraction, CyberWorld playtest.
In the second Sunday session, I offered a playtest of Cyberworld, my cyberpunk action/heist hack of Apocalypse World by way of Dungeon World. This was the first time I’d run the game, so I was quite nervous about how it would go, but by and large it went exactly as I’d hoped. I definitely have some things to work on and think about, but the core is solid, which, given it’s a hack, is unsurprising.
The characters were:
- Quade (James), the Hunter, a scruffy but thoroughly professional Deckard-esque detective, complete with hardboiled voiceovers.
- Karl Cartman (Richard), the Driver, a camo-wearing chopper pilot with a couple of drones.
- Max (Rose), the Hacker, with the Avatar of a scrawny 14 year-old redheaded girl and whose real face was never seen.
- Loulou (Matthew), the Killer, a chromed street samurai with gold and tourquoise spiked hair , a glowing chrome cyberarm and a badass autoshotgun.
Instead of Hx or Bonds, I’m using Links and a SotC-style background generation system whereby each player describes a job they did and the person to their left describes what role they played in it. It went well, generally resulting in a loosely connected team not optimised for helping each other.
I think the most pressing requirement is more colour in the playbooks to help the players get into the cyber-groove.
Session 6: The Lich King of Ragmatag! Dungeon World.
I vacillated briefly with offering Apocalypse World, as requested by drbunnyhops but as I haven’t yet run it and I was reasonably tired by this point, I opted for Dungeon World again. Sorry drbunnyhops! I’ve since offered AW for round one at Kapcon 2012 (as well as promising a Cyberpunk game (maybe a LARP) for 2021).
The other way I like to generate adventure seeds is have each of the players pitch a “dungeon” then have them choose. Then I flesh it out and add twists while they generate characters. That’s the method I used this time. The ideas were:
- The abandoned Dwarven mines, now filled with zombie halflings (which is a potentially quite horrifying scenario for a future game)
- A tower to which the evil lord Varcon has been dragging local villagers for dark purposes!
- A high church taken over by heretics.
- A desecrated temple of the god Ragmatag, now home to an evil Lich.
- Marcus, Paladin of the Order of the Merciful Lady (Freya).
- Rudiger the Fighter (Richard), his bloodstained sword the latest and best in a line of weapons he has been rigorously testing.
- Hur’fulg the Cleric of his most generous lord, Dosan the Bringer (Dale - no, not that one).
- Robin, the thief who had tricked Marcus into a long-running con whereby she siphoned money intended for orphans to a different set of orphans and who stole prayers from Hur'fulg (Karen).
The next day they ventured into the temple, descending a blasted hole into a room with an incorporeal spirit of some sort which they defeated. Robin died in the battle, but made a bargain with death that she could return to help her companions, but she could never leave the caves beneath the temple. She accepted.
Further into the caves, the found magical traps, locked doors and trapped treasure and finally confronted the Lich in his laboratory. Rudiger and Marcus killed him with relative ease, while Robin found his phylactery and Hur’fulg sanctified the Lich’s now decapitated skull. Rudiger was killed by the explosion as he smashed the warded phylactery, but was recognised by Death as a useful servant and sent back to the mortal plane, elsewhere. Marcus tried to drag Hur’fulg dived into cover but he too was killed and accepted into Dosan’s Market by his most generous lord.
Marcus climbed out of the blasted hole, pouches stuffed with the Lich’s treasure (and some herbs), and hesitantly, Robin followed, apparently escaping the notice of death (defy danger), for now!
So that was Kapcon. Only my second, but much better than my first (2003) at which I was not happy with my game due to under preparation. Now that I have a bunch of games I can run without prep, or that I have run before, that's not an issue. I mainly play indie games for two reasons: I can reliably get an awesome and complete game experience in 2-4 hours, and they tap the creativity of everyone at the table more evenly, not just the GM. This weekend was no exception, so thanks to all my players for bringing so much awesome!