Wednesday, January 31, 2018

On Moonlit Wings: Valtyr #1

I’m interrupting my interlude. On Moonlit Wings came out on the 31st, and, as I downloaded that and a couple other titles, I realized that I have nearly a thousand digital role playing books. That does not include physical books or sources other than RPGNow. I think I’m going to do a few playthroughs and reviews before I move on to my other monstrosity.

On Moonlit Wings is an alternative take on M20 Adamantine Edition, which is a Microlite version of 5E. It’s twice the size of the original; a whole 36 pages with OGL included. What sets this apart from other versions is the inclusion of Hope, Despair and Madness, a Dread Track and using a Candle. It appears there’s a Candlelight RPG in the works.

Briefly, Hope takes the place of Inspiration. The Dread Track is a tool that, when full, gives characters Despair, and monsters get more powerful the further along the track progresses. Despair and Madness has mechanical uses, but if Madness overtakes a character’s mental faculties, the character is retired. The Candle is another tool that signals if a character’s actions are resolved as normal or if they’re rolling at Disadvantage. Some actions will relight the candle; other actions will extinguish it.

Character creation includes a fourth ability score (Might, Agility, Intellect and Personality instead of Strength, Dexterity and Mind) and uses an ability array instead of rolling. You decide on your character’s Heritage (Race in other titles), choose a Class (the four core with six advanced classes), then choose a Background.

Resolution is similar to what you would find in M20; the same goes for magic. If you’ve played any of the Microlite titles before, you’ll be familiar with it. On Moonlit Wings defaults to using a magic point pool with optional rules for Blood Magic and Ritual Magic.

The one thing I don’t like, and this is true with M20 Adamantine Edition, are the armor costs. Getting a +2 bonus to armor, if read as written, costs 100 gold. That seems incredibly expensive, but I suppose it also depends on how you want to run the game.

All in all, On Moonlit Wings, is worth the $5 cost of entry. I’ve enjoyed most of Gallant Knight Games’ micro-RPGs, the Tinyd6 series, and For Coin and Blood. I expect I’ll be reviewing those soon after this.

On to character creation and an actual playthrough…

I’m going to use The Northern Reaches for this character; it’s a Basic D&D supplement that I’ve never got around to using. This character will be an M20 take on a runecaster, using the words and forms instead of a spell list.

Valtyr Rorikson, Human Cleric and Viking
+2 Might
+1 Agility
+2 Intellect
+0 Personality

HP: 10
MP: 10
AC: 17

Proficiencies: Communication, Physical; Intellect saves; medium armor and shields

Class abilities: Divine spellcasting; channel divinity

Spells: Cantrips - Frost Shards (60’, 1d10, Magic attack), Light; The Four Actions - enhance; The Five Realms - body, energy

Equipment: scale armor (+4 AC), shield (+2 AC), holy symbol, mace (1d6), 15gp and fast pack C

That out of the way, it’s time to create an adventure to test him on. Going back to the Dungeon World Adventure Builder with the Aladdin Technique (thanks again to Sophia Brandt for compiling all these solo resources), I roll some Story Cubes and come up with:

“I am exploring [a temple] that lies [within a profane tower] seeking the [origins of a ruinous cult]. I am here to [find the sagas of Njordr] guarded by [gnolls] and [undead]. How far has their infectious beliefs spread?”

Finally, inspired by Five Room Dungeons and Castle Gargantua, I devised a small board on a 3”x5” index card instead of using a random content generator. As the average roll of a d6 is 3.5, an average adventure will last five rooms. Rolling above average shortens the adventure; below average lengthens the adventure. Instead of having to land on the final spot with an exact roll, this session will end once the character reaches the final room.

To start:

Option A: monster
Option B: trap
Option A - 1, Option B - 5

Unexpected. I suppose that’s why it’s a trap. Opening Sly Flourish’s Random Trap Generator, gets me:

02 - invisible swinging axes with crushing walls triggered by magic sensing spheres.

Well. I guess we’re falling for that one; can’t justify finding that simply by walking by, so…

A day’s journey south following the Otofjord River from Whitehart, Valtyr steps amongst the rocks that litter the Hardanger Mountains. The warmth of the Whitehart Valley gives way to the pressing cold coming from the cliffs. The sky is overcast, threatening snow, as Valtyr reaches his destination.

Built encased within the mountain side, a tower of rock seems carved and constructed into the cliff face. Facing opposite the valley, it has been inconvenient for all but the most adventurous to enter. A set of double doors stretches open, easily twice the height of a northlander. Snow covers the first few feet into the wide corridor, leaving the barest hint of corpses rotting along the side of the hall.

Valtyr walks cautiously up to the double doors, studiously eyeing the bodies.

Most of the bodies are decrepit, left there exposed to the elements for an unknown period of time. Belongings seem to have been stripped, just scraps of clothing left behind. The remains share similar features: broken ribs or arms, torsos that show the telltale gashes and tears of battle.

Valtyr looks closer at the bodies. Are they all human?

Yes. There’s a soft click accompanied by a whirr. Another echoes the first, and a third answers the other two. Roll Agility + Physical to reduce incoming damage.

DC 15, major trap
Agility + Physical
Player rolls save: 17; DM rolls damage: 14 (7)
Valtyr has 3 HP remaining.

Valtyr creeps closer to the threshold; the whirring intensifies followed by a razor sharp slash across his shoulder. The viking leaps forward and hears the rushing air of another unseen blade passing by. When he lands, the stone floor gives a minute amount. One of the walls falls free and collapses toward him. Valtyr manages to almost entirely avoid the falling stone; a large section crashes into his leg, nearly breaking it. When he moves to get to his feet, another invisible blade swings down and cuts a long furrow into his arm. The whirring slows and comes to a stop with an audible click.

First, Valtyr winced at the first slash, followed by a loud grunt when the wall fell on him. The last wound made him grit his teeth and rise up angrily.

“What kind of raven starving churl traps the front door?!” he shouts.

He was fortunate he survived. Valtyr eyed the corpses from the other side of the door. He’d made it further than that lot. The cleric had precious few resources at his disposal, but healing himself was the wisest course of action. Trembling fingers used his life’s blood as ink, tracing uruz and berkana across his thigh, again on his chest, and once more on his shoulder. Valtyr used the runes as a focus, asking for healing from Eir.

Player rolls healing: 14
Valtyr has 10 HP remaining and 7 MP left.

Fully healed, Valtyr is left in a silent hall as wide as five people, and the corridor stretches back into darkness…

That’s the end of the first scene. I’ll roll on the 3x5 to see what unfortunate event happens next. As a side note, I always thought the B rune was berkano, not berkana. Language is always evolving, I guess.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Interlude, Waypoints: Breaking Point

I keep trying to get back to Blood Like Roses but someone else's story wants to be told. Two someones, actually. So, I blended some RPGs together and came up with the following to use for those sessions.

Chart your path: name your character’s concept and describe five to seven interesting facts (marks).

Example Arcane Gunslinger: bound spirit (name and choose two areas of influence), eagle eyed, elemental bullets, stasis round, the unseen shot, triggered reflexes

Example Thief: acrobatic, an eye for traps, hidden knives, locksmith, move like a shadow, the concealed attack, vials of poison

If we have questions about a mark, tell us why it's awesome.

Make your mark: choose any number of marks as the story and table demands.

Find your way: describe two waypoints, some character defining challenges. Achieve these to make a mark.

Gear: what is needed by the story or taken as a mark.

To act: make a move. When you make a move, roll 2 six sided dice. +1 die if you have the right gear or mark, and -1 die for any disadvantages; max 3d6, min 1d6. Choose the highest die result.

6: Yes, and gain an advantage or create an event.
4-5: Yes, but an event may be set in motion or an oncoming event takes effect.
1-3: No, and an event takes place or a future event may be created.

Make a move: should you write down moves as they arise?

Events: take possible outcomes of a failed action and choose one or offer choices to the player. Maybe use some moves from other sources for inspiration.

[:60] [:45] [:30] [:15] [:10] [:05] [--:--]
Minutes to Midnight: everyone begins at 60 minutes from midnight. Suffering harm moves you closer. Can you resist harm? Does armor reduce harm? How fast do you heal? Ask your table.

Harm: 0-harm, non-lethal or minor damage; 6-harm, kills a human outright. Where do weapons go along this scale?

Waypoints: The outcome of a session or multiple sessions may also be a waypoint. Fulfilling a personal or campaign waypoint, choose one: make a mark, redefine an existing mark, discover a new mark.

And some sample characters to experiment on:

Vincent Landry
Arcane Gunslinger: bound spirit (napana, fire and mirrors), conditioned reflexes, implanted smart-link, noram thunderbird mk i (2-harm, close, loud, piercing), patient marksman, stasis round

Wendy Byrne
New Age Fox: bound spirit (delanach, storms and wind), long distance runner, new age tech ocular implants mk ii, noram thunderbird mk ii (2-harm, close, loud, piercing), opportunity strikes, perceptive intuition

Fetu Kahale
New Age Ghost: elegant hacker, ghost in the machine, implanted electronic defenses, imposing physique, steady stream of income, unrepentant tinker

Monday, January 15, 2018

Blood Like Roses: Season 1, Episode 1, Scene 3

That was a longer break than I expected. Work and winter storms have kept me busier than usual.

Sebastian wants to add, “A sinister bell rings in the distance,” to the 1st Motif card.

Option A: Add the phrase as normal.
Option B: Do not add the phrase to the card.
Option A - 6, Option B - 5

1st Motif Card
  • Blood colored petals coalesce into a kneeling man.
  • A sinister bell rings in the distance.

Overplayer rolls for Tone:
Option A: Feral
Option B: Insightful
Option A - 1, Option B - 3

Overplayer rolls for Phase:
Option A: Perilous
Option B: Rogue
Option A - 1, Option B - 3

Overplayer rolls for Scene Guide, if this is a Feral:
Option A: Discovery Phase
Option B: Perilous Phase
Option A - 1, Option B - 6

And, if this is an Insightful:
Option A: Rogue Phase
Option B: Perilous Phase
Option A - 6, Option B - 1

The streets of the Court are cobblestone marred by pools of dark water. Carriages burn on the side of the road, bodies heaped atop the makeshift pyre to cleanse the district of some unnamed disease. Doors to homes are barred shut against the lunacy outside as packs of crazed citizens roam the alleys.

An iron wrought fence marks the perimeter of a previously high valued estate. The garden has long since deteriorated into brown grasses coupled with weeds. The front door barely hangs from its hinges, offering glimpses of eyes like burning coals watching Sebastian from within. A porcelain woman sits stoically on a stone bench in front of the house, a living doll animated by a previous Hunter.

The howl of the werewolf echoes from the rooftop, stalking closer to its prey.

Overplayer picks up the dice and hands them to Sebastian.

Show us how Sebastian helps the Doll escape the Court of Gaols.

Sebastian rolls for Tone: Feral - 2, Insightful - 5

Sebastian slowly walks slowly up the cobblestone steps, taking a seat beside the woman. His eyes watch the darkness behind the door warily.

“This place is not safe, my lady,” he says in muted tones.

Her distant voice replies, eyes staring down at the joints of her ceramic fingers, “Where else would I be?”

“Home?” Sebastian inquires.

“This is home.”

Sebastian glances around the courtyard with moderate disbelief. The cracked earth and dying foliage. The susurration from beyond the broken doors. Dark grey clouds a barrier against the sun.

“No, my lady, I think we should get you back to the Workshop.”

The door bursts apart, a barely human form shambles forward. Its pupils are dilated too wide with madness, hair falling away in mangy patches. The thing’s speech is indecipherable, just one long scream.

Sebastian leaps to his feet, quicksilver tonfa snap into his hands. He flips one and grabs it lengthwise, the handle jutting forward like a hook. The tonfa swings down and smashes against the skull of the delirious man with a heavy wet crack.

Another maniac jumps from a window and charges at the Hunter. Sebastian’s second tonfa twirls, the shorter end level with the beast’s head. The two meet, tonfa pressed against the head of the madman, and Sebastian pulls the trigger. A mercury bullet burrows through the man’s skull and emerges from the other side with a thundering roar.

An unseen third tackles Sebastian from the wilting bushes. The Hunter is forced to the ground and retaliates with quick jabs to the side of the thing’s head. He pulls himself up to his feet and wields the tonfa like a pair of clubs, alternating strikes against the thing’s arms, chest and head. Sebastian continues to club the insane individual as it falls to the cobblestone walkway until black ichor begins to puddle across the ground.

All the while, the porcelain doll remained stoic and still, focused on the joints of her fingers.

Sebastian’s breath is labored and quick. He swallows, noting the strange pulsating tumors growing upon the building. His hand touches the Doll’s, “We should go.”

“Go. To the Workshop,” her placid expression reveals no emotion.

The two walk back along the alleyways and into the room where the lamp bleeds its lavender light. He presses a palm against its glass and the two disappear into the Hunter’s Dream, leaving rose petals drifting upon the wind.

Sebastian picks up the dice and hands them to the Overplayer.

Show us what is behind the tumorous growths.

The bulging tumor pulsates under the darkened skies. An opening the size of a man pries apart, a starlight eye blinks lazily with twin pupils like a five pointed star. The growth ripples and a tendril extends across the roof. An emaciated arm ending in a hand with obsidian claws. The madness is spreading and the incubation is almost complete.

Sebastian wants to add “eyes like burning coals” and “A porcelain woman sits stoically” to the Motif Cards.

Option A: Add both
Option B: Choose one
Option A - 6, Option B - 5

1st Motif Card:
  • Blood colored petals coalesce into a kneeling man.
  • A sinister bell rings in the distance.
  • Eyes like burning coals

2nd Motif Card:
  • A porcelain woman sits stoically.