Jacobi Silverheart in Godbound
I have been reading Sine Nomine's upcoming Godbound RPG and decided to make my my Lunar Exalted PC. Beast doesn't quite deal with Lunar's transformation but its so close that I am happy with how he turned out.

Jacobi Silverheart (Silver Jack)

Strength 14 (+1) Check 7
Dexterity 16 (+2) Check 5
Constitution 13 (+1) Check 8
Wisdom 8 (-1) Check 13
Intelligence 10 (-) Check 11
Charisma 18 (+3) Check 3

Saving Throws
Hardiness: 14
Evasion: 13
Spirit: 16

Wealth: 0
Experience: 0
Dominion: 0
Influence: 2
Effort: 2

Hit Points: 9
AC: 1
Deadly Beastman Transformation 1d10+2 Check 17
Moonsilver Reaper Daiklaive 1d6+2 Check 17
Fray Dice d8

Facts: Survived on the edges of the wild, Stories are told of told of Silver Jack, Compassion stolen by a parasite god

Goal: To reunite with his true love

Alacrity, Beast, Passion

Cannot be surprised.
Can speak to animals and is never willingly attacked by unintelligent natural beasts.

Gifts of Alacrity
Swifter Than The Sun On Turn: Commit Effort. Your movement rate is twice as fast as your fastest pursuer or quarry, to a minimum of 60 feet per move action.
Walk Between the Rain Constant: Your natural AC is 3. You cannot be hit by anything not driven by a purpose unless you allow it.

Gifts of Beast
Red in Tooth and Claw On Turn: You have or can instantly manifest natural weaponry that does 1d10 damage and counts as a magic weapon. Against natural or magical beasts, these weapons always strike against AC 9.
Many-Skinned Mantle Action: Adopt the shape of any beast, natural or magical. Alternately, transform a human within sight into a natural beast; Commit Effort until the end of the day to affect those of greater hit dice, who also get a Hardiness save to resist.

Gifts of Passion
Fashioning a Friend Action: Commit Effort for the scene to beguile a visible creature, inspiring it to feelings of friendship and cooperativeness towards you.

Kapcon 2016 Report
I attended Kapcon 2016 in the weekend. Though the energy seemed more subdued than normal, it was a good Con. The energy (though lower) felt more focussed, it ran smoothly, and I was really happy to see people acknowledging and enjoying the long-lived social aspects of the Con (no doubt enhanced by the disappearance of the mid year Cons).

On Friday, Sam and I had a nice meal with Margie, Hix and James, before a fleeting visit to the pre-Kapcon drinks. The space was tight and noise made talking hard, but I was able to catch up with a few of my favourite people. I then managed a relatively early night's sleep, which paid dividends later.

Saturday morning I took off and helped the Kapcon Organisers and chatted with Nasia, Morgan and Hannah. Given that it was a scenario of my own making, I was happy to hear that Sam's first run of Ryuutama went well. Players of both this run and her second one later in the Con said they were keen to play more, which is always a good sign.

This was followed by my first run of Shadow of the Demon Lord. It ran pretty good with a standout player performance by Cat as a hard bitten Dwarf witchhunter who died of a heart attack at seeing the big bad. I wasn't happy with my own performance as GM, to be truthful, but it was a good wake up for my later games.

In round 3, I ran my second game of Shadow of the Demon Lord. This was a low powered game and with random PC creation. I was worried about it to start (character creation with tired player can be woeful) but it was reliably fun. Robert Vincent owned his murdernating goblin gangster resulting in one of the most hilarious hostage negotiations I have experienced.

I offered to withdraw my round 4 game at the start of round 3 to allow Conan to run his game, only to find that Conan withdrew his game at the last minute. I played in Undying run by MikeS instead. It was enjoyable (it felt like a Vampire Diplomacy) and I would definitely like to see it in action over a few sessions. As it was, I found that only one session skewed some of the play, leaving me a little unsatisfied. I also struggled with the walls of text move sheets, but that would disappear with some more play. I wrapped up the day being the last to leave the building with Russ and Morgan.

I woke up on Sunday tired. Adventure Squad loomed and its always a massive energy sink. Luckily, in the first round Karen ran a game of Mermaid Adventures and Dylan ran 5e. So, I dodged the GMing bullet. I did introduce the squaddies to Tsuro and Love Letter. the best pick me up that morning was seeing how much the squaddies (and their parents) enjoyed themselves. Adventure Squad continues to grow and I think its a great thing for Kapcon.

In round 6, I ran my second run of Shadow of the Demon Lord. I was worried about energy levels but I had a great group, with JonB being the driving force of the group with great player support all round. The session was probably my most enjoyable of the Con. I was happy to see that both Ayla and Sophie had run in round 6 as well and people were impressed. The Kapcon Organisers were also kind enough to recognise Sophie as the youngest Kapcon GM to date :). Fraser also ran a 10 session D&D5e game that round (which I had asked him to prepare on really short notice) and it went very well, resulting in him winning the prize for best single round. I left with my family after round 6.

My main impressions from this Con were:
1. Shadow of the Demon Lord is a really fun game.
2. I did a lot to make the Con fun for other people.
3. Adventure Squad is awesome and needs to continue to grow and be supported.
4. I am tired.

[Shadow of the Demon Lord] Character Sheets
I have finished the PC Sheets for my SotDL game at Kapcon. I must say that they are some of the most evocative I have come across, with its use of white space and the ritual circles, whilst also being mechanically rigourous and complete.

PC SheetCollapse )

[Shadow of the Demon Lord] My first pregens
I made my first set of six 4th level pregens for my upcoming Con game, Measure of Faith, and I went with rolling almost everything randomly outside of the main choices. These are a group of badass witch hunters, who are on the periphery of the Cult of the New God.

This is what I got:

The PregensCollapse )

I am very happy with the result. I can see these as a group in a book or movie, and each one is one that I would happily play.

Kapcon 2016 Plans Redux
My plans for Kapcon have been all over the place this year. Despite what I posted earlier, my plans had moved to running Urban Shadows only, but this has now changed again. I have ended up with a streamlining my offerings to a single RPG (outside of Adventure Squad) being Shadow of the Demon Lord.

Round 2 and 6 - "A Measure of Faith" for Shadow of the Demon Lord: This is a medium level scenario which reminds me of Joe Abercrombie's First Law series. I will be interested to see how well SotDL handles PCs that are more powerful than starting PCs and I have hopes that it will do much better than D&D5e in this regard.

Round 3 and 4 - "The Apple of Her Eye" for Shadow of the Demon Lord: This is a simpler scenario with starting PCs. As such, it is intended as a demonstration game, including players creating their own PCs (which is a quick and fun process).

Round 5 - Adventure Squad: As already posted, I will be in Adventure Squad. I will have Icons ready to run. However, I am hoping to just support Ayla and Sophie. Ayla will have Star Wars (using Far Away Land) and Sophie Far Away Land.

Unbridled Blade: 2016
Despite intending to take a break from Atlantis in 2016, it looks like we will be back with the first two chapters (chapters 5 and 6) of the second major arc. The first chapter is "Deadmen's Deadlock" for which I will be pillaging RQ6's Monster Island.

Though I thought I would need time away from it, I am quite looking forward to continuing to tell the rambling saga with some very different locales and situations. We will also be joined by a new player, which will get us back to the magic number of 5 PCs and provide an injection of new PC subplots.

Urban Shadows will continue to fill in the holes around Atlantis as our alternative break game.

Urban Shadows - Handful of Dust
We had PC creation for Urban Shadows on Thursday. It went well, though we didn't get to actually starting play (the session was under 2 hour in length). I came out of it with a good handle of the PCs, their issues, and the rapidly evolving setting around them. The story for this short run was quickly whittled out of the wood of ideas.

My process for the session was as follows:

1. I read the 4 page City Guide for Los Angeles.
2. I have been skim reading a travel guide called "A Rough Guide to LA".
3. I came up with a matrix of 6 proto-threats; 1 for each of the 6 pairings for the 4 Factions.
4. I had ideas for an opening scene, with a couple of hazy backup ideas.

The PCs chose (randomly) the Fae, the Oracle, the Tainted and the Veteran. This is good as the first two are prominent supernatural types for LA, and the last is also well established. The Tainted was an outsider but married well with a story line I had thought about.

Character creation was marvellous. The use of directed questions, like those in Dread, and mechanics that simply and transparently establish character concept meant that all the PCs felt different and interesting. Unlike a traditional RPG, where it may be hard to mingle these different PCs together, the differences were interesting for each PC. This was followed by the Debt questions that ensured that the bonds between the PCs were tight.

Then came the the session start moves that gave everyone something to do off the bat. This also gave me a collection of NPCs and they quickly filtered through and settled onto my net of proto-threats. Following the session, I created my Storm Front by have taken my 6 proto-threats and turned two into Dangers and created a third new Danger riffing off existing ideas. Given that the game is likely to be only a few sessions, a single Storm Front with three Dangers seems fine.

As said, I am happy how it turned out. The story feels as if it has organically grown for the PCs even before play began. Most of the issue of traditional RPGs are addressed up front. As a GM, I didn't have to exercise much creative muscle before receiving player input, and the mechanics ensured that those contributions happened and were focused. Add on top of that the ease of play and maintaining momentum, I am keen to see how the game goes. I am also pretty sure that this is where I would like my gaming to develop on the whole. It hits so many buttons for me, and it has finally opened up a genre that has long been closed from me.

Urban Shadows - Asymmetry
My discussion on this concept is around 5 years too late, but just to compliment my last post, another aspect of PbtA RPGs that I really like and I think plays a large part in their appeal is their asymmetrical nature. Lots of RPGs have adopted an asymmetrical approach to the GM and players, and have been almost since the dawning of RPGs. The reason for it is that the role of the GM and the role of the players is different and trying to treat them same only real achieves a veneer of "simulation" that doesn't really hold up under scrutiny.

However, rather than simply providing shortcut tools for the GM or player facing mechanics, PbtA RPGs take this one step further and interestingly one step back. Most of the rules that we would associate with traditional RPGs are player facing in PbtA RPGs without exception. Only the player roll dice as a result of narrative triggers. This is embedded to the point where the GM does not even need to stat up NPCs in any way that resembles a PC. NPCs are almost indistinct from any other thing that the GM presents to the players for their PCs to interact with and overcome.

This approach is pretty much ideal to me, as it makes the GMs role easy, not requiring that they adhere to the same rules or rigour as the players, freeing the GM to handle more important things like building the narrative and compelling the PCs. However, from a player POV there are all the bells and whistles that I like to help convey my PC as being distinct from the other PCs, inspire me to action, and keep me entertained on a mechanical level.

PbtA then add back symmetry, not in terms of the mechanics, but in terms of the actual play experience. In PbtA games, the GM is a player also. They just use different rules. However, they can enjoy playing the game, as the narrative burden is shared with the players, and they get to play to find out what happens.

The combination of the two is pretty much a sweet spot for me, and I think highlights the genius in the Apocalypse World deconstructed traditional RPGs and then rebuilt them to a result that is familiar in many ways, but is marked different to deal with a number of foundational issues that have plagued them from the outset.

When combined with the way that PbtA RPGs tie antagonism with protagonism as described in my last post, the result is pretty close to what I have been aiming for in the Grand Experiment from the get go. My issue has been building up the new skills and unlearning the old skills as a GM that allow me to run games in this manner.

Urban Shadows - Complication and Protagonism
I am working on a short season or Urban Shadows, consisting of a short three session run this year and then some one session con runs next year. I have already discussed Urban Shadows in respect of running a World of Darkness game here:http://grandexperiment.livejournal.com/273171.html. However, I would also like to revisit one of the core elements of Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) RPGs that I particularly enjoy, and why I think they suit me for character drama campaigns such as WoD and supers (to be covered by Magpie Games' the upcoming Masks RPG) which I have particularly struggled to satisfactorily with traditional RPGs.

One of the focuses of the Indie Scene was about introducing complication to the PCs. Though that may seem a straightforward process in a traditional RPG, that form of complication is generally limited to conflict and antagonism. In essence, complication is equated with failure. This added an adversarial element to the player and GM dynamic that also encouraged players to take a cautious or even defensive stance in terms of complications. This often resulted in PC's being inactive when situations became risky, despite seeming counterintuitive - the avoidance of failure being separate from the possibility of success..

The Indie Scene put more direct focus on conflict, often allowing both the player and GM to agree on the stakes before the risk was taken. By making the consequences more explicit, this put the player and GM in a more collaborative relationship and increased the chance that the player accepted the consequences for their PC. This ultimately smoothed matters and made it more likely that complications introduced would stick.

The issue that this approach often created was that it required the player to stick beyond their PC in an authorial way, which some players did not like. Other methods were conceived to make the process more sophisticated. Notably, Aspects arose to allow the player to provide an explicit set of conditions in which they were prepared to accept complication, which reduced the amount of negotiation needed in each conflict and reduced the amount of time the player was an author for their PC, rather playing their PC.

Where I think PbtA RPGs shine is that rather than making complication a separate exercise, they essentially tie complication with protagonism or taking action. In addition, PbtA RPGs don't require the player to agree to a specific set of conditions in which they were prepared to accept complication, as there is a list of agreed complications that are only applied in specific situations. This simplifies the process in that it allows the player to focus on playing their PC, and the GM can focus on compelling the player to take action. The harder the player plays their PC, the more complicated the story gets and the more focussed it becomes on the PC's actions. This leads to great character drama, solving much of the underlying issue with traditional RPGs.

In summary, I think this process of encouraging acceptance of complication by the players without needing the players to take an authorial stance adds greatly to character drama focussed RPGing.

Unbridled Blade: Chapter 4 - City Atop the Mire
We have finished Chapter 4 of the Unbridled Blade campaign called "City Atop the Mire". The session logs can be found here:

Session 4.1: http://grandexperiment.livejournal.com/278690.html
Session 4.2: http://grandexperiment.livejournal.com/278897.html
Session 4.3: http://grandexperiment.livejournal.com/279754.html
Session 4.4: http://grandexperiment.livejournal.com/279889.html
Session 4.5: http://grandexperiment.livejournal.com/280410.html
Session 4.6: http://grandexperiment.livejournal.com/281213.html
Session 4.7: http://grandexperiment.livejournal.com/281538.html

Achindra: 70
Baram: 116
Phaedra: 118
Stelaro: 120

Chapter 1 - Gods Eye Open: http://grandexperiment.livejournal.com/261425.html
Chapter 2 - Edge of the Endless Ice: http://grandexperiment.livejournal.com/271383.html
Chapter 3 - Scions Scatter and Scorn: http://grandexperiment.livejournal.com/278081.html

We are taking a break from Atlantis for at least a year, but when it returns it will be Chapter 5, "Deadmen's Deadlock".


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