Wednesday, January 29, 2014

7th Sea: St. Gregor

30. Septimus 1668, Atemlos

We left Donnerfall for Atemlos. Both Aidan and I want to find a branch of the Explorer's Society. There is one in Freiburg, but Aidan thought there might be one in Atemlos as well and it is on the way.
Phillip Knef came to see us when we left, not entirely by chance I believe. He asked us to come and see him on Eulestein Castle when we reached Atemlos, he might have something for us to do. It took us the best part of two days to reach the city. The houses nestle up against the mountain and the castle rises up above the city, it is an impressive sight. The city is home to many people who have lost one thing or another in the war: limbs, loved ones or their mind and they fill the streets, begging for some coins. Together with the steadily pouring rain, it made for a sad welcome to Hainzl's capitol.

We took board in one of the better hotels and I introduced myself at the League. I was not exactly surprised to find out that the man in charge knew my father. While I sometimes wish for a family not quite so intent on tradition, my family's name does make things easier. We were directed to the local branch of the Explorer's Society, but decided to make our visit at the castle first.

There, Phillip Knef told us that the two sons of the Eisenfürst have not been seen or heard from for a month. They set out to find the legendary shield of St. Gregor, as Knef told us while making his disapproval clear. The two boys are twins and inseparable and they are invaluable to the kingdom since the Fürst is not only a widower but also ill and not likely to produce another heir. I'm not quite sure why he chose us to look for them, but one thing I do know: it will be less conspicuous then sending people from his own household and if I were him, I would want to keep the disappearance a secret as long as possible.

We also got a look at something that Knef would have preferred for us not to see, I'm sure. When we were leaving, we encountered the Eisenfürst in person. Everyone knows that he is ill, but no-one knows for sure what exactly is wrong. I do not know either, but the man is clearly deranged - he was fighting an invisible dragon and it was all his servants could do to keep him from coming to harm. Like his city, the man is impressive until you take a closer look.

We were going to leave in the morning and Aiden decided to visit the Explorer's Society. We found nothing but a shuttered, empty house, with a beggar sitting in front. The man couldn't tell us anything, but he slipped Aiden a letter. Whatever the contents, it's clearly troubling Aiden and he said that he would have to leave once we had found the boys. But he would not talk about it and I did not want to ask.

next time

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Shadowrun: Shaman

To be honest, I dreaded our Shadowrun game this week. Huge sums of money had gone missing from various people at the Rat's Nest and we had found out that a rat shaman had messed with the heads of a lot of people. I wasn't at all sure that we were up to the challenge of catching the shaman, that guy had some great tricks up his sleeve other than making people think what he wants (as if that wasn't bad enough). Like illusions and invisibility. There was a very real chance that Neil would die that evening.

When we started, the shaman had just set foot out of the container we were all in and thanks to an epic roll by our technomancer, we noticed him. Neil called a spirit, the most powerful one he had ever called, asked it to search for the shaman and followed him outside. He was just out of the door when a huge rat spirit appeared, but he left that one for the others.

In the end, it worked out. Barely. Neil's spirit found the shaman, grabbed him and Neil managed to shoot him, despite being attack by the rat spirit. But I was down to two health points and I burned all but one of my Edge points. Burned as in I have to buy them again with XP, about the most drastic thing you can do in Shadowrun. I was shaking with nerves by the time it was all over, absolutely high on adrenaline.

Neil has been living in my head for close to two years now and I use those words on purpose. We not only play every week, we play a ton of play by mails/chat scenes in between and talk about the setting all the time on Skype. I invested a huge amount of time into the Rat's Nest and into Neil. He's very much my alter ego. I don't want him to be invincible or something and he certainly isn't. Neither is the setting, the community of the Nest is far from indestructible. That's part of the fun. If he had died that evening, he would have died, no complaints from me. But it would have taken me quite a while to get over it, I would miss him terribly.

The Rat's Nest campaign is on Obsidian Portal.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Backwater Gospel

As a warm-up for the Deadlands campaign that will continue after a lengthy pause on Thursday:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Slam Poetry

I went down the rabbit hole of slam poetry of YouTube and you can't really do that without coming across Neil Hilborn.
Carver was the first one I listened to - he had me with that first line and it gets even more intense as he goes:

OCD is funny and heartbreaking at the same time

Breast Allergy - I would love it for the pun nice to teat you alone

You can buy the Button Poetry e-book with some of Hilborn's poems and more from equally talented authors here and you should because there is not one poem in there that doesn't do its best to set your mind on fire.

Like so:

Pinata by Pages Matam

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

7th Sea: Caesura

I wrote about the problems our weekly 7th Sea group was having a while ago. So, the first session we had this year was going to be devoted to talking it out. But the GM was a no-show due to the believe that we weren't playing and due to not reading the weekly mails we write to avoid that problem.

That pretty much sealed the deal. We are going to start playing Deadlands again and I'm very much looking forward to that, it's a system I love. The 7th Sea campaign will move to a play by post game because we all still have stuff we want to do with out characters and it would be a shame to just abandon them.

I've been thinking about GMing another play by post-game anyway and I didn't need any convincing. I need to make a small cut because there is no way I wil be able to take over smoothly where we are now, not with all the NPCs and intrigue going on. We'll play out the next big scene and then I'm going to see to it that the group finally arrives in Charouse, at the court of L'Empereur, where I can bring my own NPCs into play. Which I need to write first. And I need to read up on rules. And background, of the PCs and the setting. I'm already having my customary pre-campaign-panic.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

7th Sea: Black Knight

last time

26 Septimus 1668, Donnerfall

We had some time before the last trial of the competition took place and so I decided to collect the first sample of shot for my sling from the Castillian and take a walk outside the town to see if it works. Aidan and Gregor accompanied me and after I did some experiments with the marbles. It seems that they cause an explosion when they hit stone and a powerful one - a big boulder I used as a target was almost split in half. The marbles are useless after that. I don't know if they can be, how shall I say, replenished?

Sooner than we all liked it was time for the log rafting. The time spent on ships helped me here and I did fairly well. Especially after I realised that some logs were much more stable in the water than others (I suspect the League had a hand in this). Our opponents were not content with balancing on their logs, they did try to push anyone they could reach into the water. The rope someone spanned across the river did not help matters any and so I found myself and Hansen from the Hainzel players the only people left when the race drew close to the waterfall. In that moment, a knight in a completely black armour raced towards the town, creating a panic among the spectators.

I saw to it that I reached the river bank and commandeered a horse to follow the knight. Gregor was ahead of me and Aidan not far behind. The town was deserted and although it was only midday, the light grew dim and dark. I heard the buzzing of flies, like the streets were filled with carrion and it was all I could do to go on. The knight had reached the town square long before me and had speared someone, but I couldn't see who it was. He was yelling and tried in vain to take off his helmet, while his horse reared up, screaming like I have never heard a horse scream before. Aidan grabbed me and dragged me into the hotel. He ran upstairs, but I saw Gregor step closer to the knight and help him with the helmet. I could not leave him out there alone. The knight was Archibald Hauenschild, the nobleman we had met on our first day. I do not know what was the matter with him, but when he was free of the helmet, he attacked his horse and so did Gregor. I did not dare go closer, but I used my sling and I think I did hurt the horse, but not nearly enough to bother it. Gregor did that with the axe he grabbed from the saddle and Hauenschild finally killed it after a desperate struggle. I am still not sure if I really saw this, but the horse seemed to breathe black fire at one time. It would be more comfortable to say that I imagined it, but to be honest...I do not think I did.

The horse collapsed, but the darkness did not lift. The door to the local temple had opened and out stepped the corpse of Doppelkeuche, the minstrel killed on the day before. Aidan had finally come out of the hotel again (he later told me about being attacked by something that looked like a corpse and I believe him) and he had brought the artefact and the marbles. I used one of the marbles to shoot at the minstrel. It hit the stone steps and almost tore Doppelkeuche to pieces. But he would not stop moving. Aidan managed to activate the artefact - the light melted Doppelkeuche's body like wax in a flame. I do not think I will forget this sight, although I wish I could. The light of day finally returned, together with Knef and his men. Now we recognised the person Hauenschild had killed: Alena Doppelkeuche, the wife of the minstrel. Knef beheaded Hauenschild then and there and the nobleman accepted his death calmly and with relief. When Knef later told us that Alena was Hauenschild's daughter, I understood why. It seems she had run away with the minstrel and the grief had killed her mother.

After all this was over, we were left with the gratitude of both Knef and Franziska Köhl, which is not small thing to have when travelling in Hainzl and Fischler. The benevolence of the Vendel League is also something that no doubt will be useful. We are all not quite sure where to go next, but I think it would be a good idea to look for someone who can tell us more about the artefact and the marbles. The Explorers' Society would be a good place to start and Aidan has, it seems, useful contacts there. I would not be adverse to selling both artefact and marbles, to tell the truth.


And so end the first adventure for our heroes. It was actually planned to play it through in one session and I had some doubt about this because we all love social interaction way too much to be able to play anything through in a couple of hours, unless the GM does heavy railroading. It was absolutely not necessary that we participate in the competition, but it was fun. In any case, we decided to turn the one shot into a campaign. 7th Sea is one of my favourite systems because, among other things, it really rewards good roleplaying and so I'm happy to have a second group to play it with.

Friday, January 3, 2014

RPG Blog Carnival: Transitions

The theme for the RPG Blog Carnival this month is Transitions:
What sort of Transitions will you make in your game or campaign this year? Will you be making the transition to a new game system, starting a new game, or picking up an old favorite? Are you going to take your first turn as a GM, or step back and be a player for a while? Or would you rather tell people about the kinds of transitions taking place within your game, the sorts of changes and transformations taking place among your characters or the game-world itself?

So. I just started as a player in a new 7th Sea campaign, while another may or may not go on hiatus or end. I will introduce another player into my Endland campaign and I want do so a big story arc, something I haven't attempted before as a GM. That will require quite a bit more preparation that I usually do as a GM and I'm not sure I can pull it off, but I do want to try. My players are very good at improvising their own story and quickly latch onto story hooks and run with them, so I think that a multi-layered story arc will be very rewarding to do with them.

In character, my characters in our Shadowrun Rat's Nest campaign are probably the ones who will see the most change in the near future. My street Doc Neil will learn more magic, but more importantly, he will be a father in a few months (if we get that far in-game). Not something he or I planned on when we started playing. And not something I have ever played before - most of my character don't even have relationships, let alone family. I may be setting myself up for a lot of heartbreak. Shadowrun is not exactly the friendliest of worlds.
Rusty, the young ganger with dreams of becoming a runner on day, will start on a new job as a pilot. Not always on the right side of the law, but then what is in Shadowrun. But it's a better job than he ever expected to land and a huge chance for him. And it makes it possible for him to get his little sister to live with him. We'll see how that works out. And finally Ela, the street girl, has the chance to make some sort of life that doesn't involve selling herself. Plus, for the first time in her life she's out as a lesbian...and as a drake (a human who can turn into a dragon), at least to the people she trusts. Being a drake is a huge problem and dangerous because people will be after her, so i have no idea how that will turn out.

The January 2014 RPG Blog Carnival is hosted by the folks at Hereticwerks, so head over there if you want to participate. While you're there, do take a look at their other stuff, it's well worth your time, I guarantee.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

7th Sea: Growing a Bit Tired

We're having a problem with out 7th Sea group. We're playing this huge campaign during the Montaign revolution and one of our players is trying to restore his family's honour and wants to reclaim his title from his brother who is ruining the family. Intrigue is an important part of the campaign and we have a lot of NPCs to deal with and to keep track of, in a web of promises, favours and backstabbing.

Which would be brilliant, but for a while we have pretty much played among ourselves without big involvement from the GM. All of us like playing social interaction, but if the GM isn't part of the game, there's only so much we can do. I'm not sure exactly what the problem is here, but it's clearly time to bring it up the next time we game.

I'm also a bit tired of having details of my character's back story ignored or stuff I asked the GM not to do. Like pretty much solving the problem that sent Marcello into exile in the first place. We talked about it and the GM saved the situation in a way I can live with. But it plays into my impression that there isn't as much background and planning as such a campaign needs and deserves. Maybe it's time to take a break from the campaign and play something else for a while. I would hate to completely retire the campaign because I enjoy playing it very much and I love how the characters fit together. I do hope we will find a good solution everyone can live with.