Friday, September 26, 2014

Law & Order ... or why modern games feel grittier than fantasy

While not always true, your average game set in more civilised times tends to reach a grittier and more tragic point than the average fantasy game.  While some Game Masters are skilful enough to make the wildest fantasy game feel realistic and gritty enough that every death matters or the most sedate and civilised countries feel playful and unserious enough that death is glossed over, generally it's easier to feel conflicted about killing in a modern world than a fantasy one.

And yes, naturally it does vary by player ... some players really couldn't give a damn about a fictional character no matter how lovingly evoked while others will find some way to empathise with a mass murdering serial killing undead squirrel enough to feel grief at their loss.

But generally, more often than not, it is easier to kill dozens of folks in a fantasy game without it feeling like murder while killing even a baddie in a Sin City-style modern world has a little kick of "Couldn't there have been another way?!"

I think it's partly because modern games tend to have a more linked in flavour than fantasy worlds.  We're so used to orphan heroes and stand alone villains that we don't think in terms of the highly kincentric big family world that actually filled the medieval era.  If you kill the evil king, there's no sense of loss to anyone.  He was just this one thing - this particular archetype - and no one would mourn that.

Plus, and more importantly even than that, the NPC reactions help build that perception.  If you clear out a thieves den in Fantasyland, the mayor will give you a medal and the locals will shower you in gold.  If you clear out a thieves den in the modern world, well, kicking down the door to a slum and slaughtering the desperate denizens for pinching stereos and television sets just has a different sort of feel to it.  If you were showered in gold for the act, you'd feel like you were in Sin City again and the average player would start eyeing off the Mayor as a better target for vigilante justice.

So I think it's also the context that surrounds the actions.

Thirdly, modern eras tend to sometimes, but not always, provide the sense that there might be an alternate option or at least there should be.  Though certainly not standard in every modern-ish genre, generally there's a sense that in any post-Victorian game there should be another way even if there isn't.  The greater the sense that jail is a suitable option, the greater you feel like a bad guy for killing folks instead.  If you want television shows involving vigilantes, especially in the modern era, there's often a sense of loss of innocence and anger that there isn't a better way to go about things.  The good guys feel forced to do bad things ... rather than happy to do what needs to be done.

Finally, and probably most importantly, modern games often colour their bad guys in shades of grey.  This isn't always the case, especially with mooks, but those games that do give a sense of potential redemption in their bad guys creates more ambiguity by necessity.  In many fantasy games, some races are bad by birth which creates a disturbing eugenics context when you look too deeply into it that allows many a forum rant about how a paladin doing their job right would slaughter infants in their cribs.  Even in those races that aren't always evil, there's more of a sense that people can fall from grace then lift into redemption (also often a theme in modern games that have a lot of violence).

Now this last example certainly isn't true of all modern games.  In a Call of Cthulhu game, the cultists are irrevocably evil so you don't feel bad about killing them.  In a World of Darkness game, on the other hand, most creatures have some semblance of redemptive possibility in them (no matter how small) reflected in their final few morality traits left to them.  Hence why the World of Darkness is so dark, you can't just slaughter people with moral impunity.  You know you're doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.

But yeah, these are all my own meanderings so feel free to query, refute or outright reject my considerations in the comments below.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Khenarthi's Roost Adventure - Part 3 (Temple of the Mourning Springs)

The Temple of the Mourning Springs is an ancient Maomer ruin that holds Uldor trapped within it, sealed by the ever rushing water of the Mourning Stone.  The garden grounds themselves are filled with a variety of ghosts, many of whom see the PCs as the ghosts, but all are calm and otherwise at peace while Uldor lies sealed away within Rurelion.  Gathwen pleads with the PCs not to harm Rurelion while he's worn for otherwise she will never be able to save him. 

As they enter the courtyard, the ghosts become hostile as the temple wards reactivate (+6 bashing attacks with their swords, 3 corpus, take half damage from nonmagical attacks, two new ones enters combat each round until they leave the area or defeat 13) - roll a 1d4 for each one slain, on a 1 the players can pick up ectoplasm from the creature's remains.  Ectoplasm has two alchemical uses (Toxicity and Double Magicka Regeneration - so gain 2 rather than 1).  Remember that an alchemical ingredient cannot be used with itself so the players, thus far, won't be able to combine them with anything.  If the Nord, Hamasel the Innocent, was allowed to journey with them than she will avoid attacking any enemy ghosts by claiming that she didn't believe her sword could damage the ghosts.

Destruction Staff of Trifling Flame (7 dice)
(does bashing damage to Dunmer)
Initiative 6
Speed 10
Defence 5
Health 7
Magicka 10
Novice Robes of Conjuration

Gathwen can temporarily disrupt the Scorpion and Spider Wards which are on either side of the tomb's entry area though she must be escorted and protected while doing so (takes her 3 rounds to disrupt one ward as she has to head up the stairs first to find it).  Once disrupted, the main entrance to the catacombs (a trapdoor on the western side of the courtyard) will open and they can enter the temple itself. 

Well, after they have defeated three skeletons (+5 bashing attacks with their swords, 3 corpus) that are just within the trapdoor and step out once it is opened.  Again, roll a 1d4, on a 1 give them bonemeal from the skeleton (-1 Stamina rolls; Resist Fire - i.e. take only bashing damage from flame).

The Catacombs consists of a large room with a simple puzzle along one wall. There are four pillars with etchings on them; each pillar has a different symbol corresponding to a phase of the moons. To proceed, activate the pillars in order: New, Waxing, Full, Waning. They will light up if the correct sequence is followed; if not, you will get a mild shock (but no damage).

Once activated, they can step out into an outdoors area where they will be immediately set upon by Kottami Sabletongue awaiting any possible intruders who will fight them.  If Hammasel is armed and present, she will now turn on the PCs.

Kottami Sabletongue
+0 Steel Sword (+6 dice)
Initiative 4
Speed 10
Defence 5
Armour 3
Health 9
Amulet of Stendarr
(+1 Health Trait)
Iron Armour
Hammasel the Innocent
As equipped by players (+6 dice)
Initiative 4
Speed 10
Defence 5
Armour 1
Health 8
Amulet of Dibella
(+1 Socialise Trait)
Rawhide Armour

Uldor's tomb ... Rurelion's new sleeping place.

Finally down the steps off the pedestal and past the bone piles, the PCs can find a set of stairs that lead down into the Great Hall (which is empty) and then move through another set of steps into Uldor's tomb.  Inside they will find Galydasea Krevyn hurriedly removing the tears of the two moons from the four pedestals, having heard the battle with the other two in the other room.  She will have removed 1 tear for every three rounds that has passed since the battle commenced so if the battle (and any following conversation) took twelve rounds, she will have removed them all.

Galydasea Krevyn
Destruction Staff of Trifling Frost (6 dice, 17 yards)
(does bashing damage to Nords)
Initiative 6
Speed 11
Defence 5
Health 7
Magicka 12
Minor Health Potion
Amulet of Azura
(+1 Magicka Trait)
Ring of the Mage
(+1 Magicka Trait)
Novice Robes of Alteration 

The PCs will know if the ward is still sealed as spouts of water surround Uldor's body and the possessed Rurelion also lies against the stone slab.  Rurelion will have a tearful moment with Gathwen before directing the PCs to stop Evuliban from removing and destroying the Mourning Stone which was placed in the Central Ruins.

The PCs must then hurry into the Central Ruins where they will find Evuliban dressed in the full armour of a First Auridon Marine Captain (female Altmer), calling herself Artriel, and will explain that the Dunmer fled and the rest of her squad is in pursuit (Subterfuge 7 dice).  He will attempt to send them off in a wild direction so he can finish his assault on the Mourning Stone.  If confronted, the illusion breaks and the Dunmer snarls that: "Uldor will wipe this island clean and then be a blight upon the Khajiit!"  He will fight to the death.
Evuliban Dresnimn
Destruction Staff of Trifling Shock (7 dice, 18 yards)
Initiative 6
Speed 9
Defence 4
Health 7
Magicka 13
Amulet of Sotha Sil
(+2 Magicka Trait)
Ring of Sotha Sil
(+1 Magicka Trait)
Novice Robes of Illusion
Once they are successful (presuming they are successful), the PCs are treated with a feast by the war fatigued Khajiit-y and their Headwoman Harrani is eager to see these matters settled and hopes there shall be no more excitement.  If any of the Ebonheart Pact are in chains, rather than dead, she will gratefully take them and hold them bound and gagged until the next naval ship can take them back to Summerset Isles.  The PCs are given the opportunity to return to Summerset Isles with that naval vessel and so ends the Khenarthi's Roost adventure.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Khenarthi's Roost Adventure - Part 2 (Mistral)

This is part two of the Khenarthi's Roost Adventure (overview here and Part 1 here).  So the PCs have either been handed over to or escaped into the hands of the Dominion Navy, the Gold Fleet, who are heading to Port Mistral in the northeast of Khenarthi's Roost.  Vicereeve Pelidil demands to be returned home to Auridon but is flatly ignored in favour of the more pressing mission mentioned by Gathwen - to prevent Uldor's reawakening.  Harrani just wishes to go home and feels rather ashamed and humiliated by the whole ordeal.  If, by some chance, the Maomer captain and ambassador are alive after attempting to take the PCs to their home country, then they don't get much say in the matter but are rather grumpy and annoyed.

They are quietly interviewed by Captain Githil Sagelock (Bosmer) of the White Gold Heiress before docking at Mistral on the southern tip of the island.  The lush island of Khenarthi's Roost holds calm beaches, tropical forests, moon sugar plantations, marshy bamboo farms, tide-swept grottoes, hidden caves and a northern mountain that sits on the Topal Sea.

If the PCs don't know much about Khenarthi's Roost, specifically about the hurricane and the Tempest storm detailed in earlier articles here, then a Khajiit crewman called Jo'shanni can fill them in.  He can also tell them about the islands' namesake, Khenarthi, Goddess of the Winds, and that the goddess breath sustains her kin, the moons Jode and Jone, on their path through the sky.  She is said to have given the Khajiit swiftness and upon their death they are said to be flown by Khenarthi to the Sands Behind the Stars.  Both sailors and farmers popularly worship her in her guise as a great hawk.

Khenarthi's Roost.

The White Gold Heiress navigates carefully down the divide and the PCs get a good lock at the island's tropical landscape before it finally pulls in at the dock.  There are a few locations of interest to the PCs in this little town alone.  Dockside, there are the three warehouses (light brown squares by the docks), the alchemy shop and the enchanting shop (two dark brown buildings).  Ahmuna-La (spotted Khajiit) will approach the PCs for information on faraway lands, drawn with curiosity to happenings in distant lands.  She can show the PCs around in exchange for such gossip.

Rope bridges connect the various island sections together.  The large building in the far northeast is the Maomer Embassy - now converted to being a Dominion Navy HQ - and the northernmost large building is the Chancery - the administration HQ for the settlement and island as a whole.

One of the sights to see is Burtie, a brown dog who has been caged by Tahara, Khajiit female, who pretends that he is a fierce and terrible predator (while snuggling with him at night).  She charges people to see him up close (5gp) or pet him (10gp).  She won't sell him as she's grown rather fond of him.  She has a young daughter called Climbs-Into-Bushes that occasionally feigns a limp said to be due to dogs.

The Chancery holds Captain Rahiba, Khajiit female, who is in charge of the militia and who investigates any crimes committed in Mistral (which generally aren't very many and are generally traceable to the Khajiit Chickenthief).  It also holds the Khajiit male banker, Sanaz-dro, who can exchange coinage for a Writ Amount when the PCs get too many coins to carry.  Helmsreeve Talambarel, male Atlmer whose family owns a shipping line and who is rumoured to be sleeping with Headwoman Harrani, will give the PCs 200gp for rescuing her while Vicereeve Pelidil gives them 250gp for saving his own life.  Gathwen requests that they spend a few hours in town while she gathers information before setting off for the temple.

The chancery also contains the golden-skinned Altmer male envoy, Ciricollo and Nauviemil, who take the PCs aside (seeing as they are heroes and all) and tell them about how Maomer are allowed to retain their jobs in the city despite being obvious spies and how it's all an example of Headwoman Harrani's failure to take control.  They're snooty but not supremacists.  Altmer are above average but the other races can be reasonable so long as they are Dominion.  They genuinely worry about Maomer influence.

In the merchant's court there's Firagaer the leatherworking Bosmer male (Hide), Ladrelas the male Bosmer armoursmith (Iron price links), Leila the Redguard weaponsmith (Iron weapons), Iteldil the woodworking Bosmer male (Iron arrows).  Noryariel is a sweet female Altmer tailor who sells regular clothing but will buy Mage's clothing.

There's Juraira the female Khajiit general merchant and Indilure the male Altmer mystic who sells soul gems (of which only the empty common soul gem at 88gp can be bought as well as an Alteration spell - Trap Soul).  Grildoriel is a Bosmer Grocer selling herbs and spices - she has little interest in the Green Pact as she's not in Valenwood.

When selling goods, players will gain 50% sale price (+10% per success on a Manipulation + Persuasion roll - roll once per merchant).

Fishcatcher, the chef, is a female khajiit, who runs an open air stall and sells a variety of seafood dishes, sometimes sugared.  Huthnak, male Khajiit, sells alcohol at the same place such as Dark Meat Beer, Rotmeth, Spiced Wine and Grape Brandy.  They're not especially tasty but it's only 9gp a jug so it's not so bad.

The Alchemy Shop offers:
  • 1 x Blessed Thistle (+1 Speed buff and +1 damage bonus), 3gp
  • 2 x Blue Entomola (+1 Health heal and 6 round invisibility), 3gp
  • 1 x Bugloss (+1 Health heal and +1 Magicka replenishment), 3gp
  • 2 x Columbine (+1 Health heal and +1 spell dice buff), 3gp
  • 3 x Corn Flower (+1 Magicka replenishment and +1 spell dice buff), 3gp
An Intelligence + Alchemy roll can identify the qualities of plants equal to successes or they could pay 5gp to be informed of their characteristics.  A Wits + Alchemy roll can combine two ingredients + 1 per dot in this skill beyond the first (cannot do untrained).  An alchemy station or kit (125gp) is required.  Yes, their abilities stack so three +1 Magicka ingredients would create a potion that instantly replenishes three Magicka.  Failing this roll destroys the ingredients and produces an unworkable potion.  Such ingredients may also be occasionally found in the wild (call for a Wits + Survival / Alchemy roll for PCs to notice them as they go).

The Enchantment shop is run by Haranwe (Altmer female) and holds several runes that can applied to objects to give them a mystical flare.  These are all trifling glyphs (+1) and the Enchantment skill is used to apply them to an object (special powers allow one to make them).  The Trifling Glyph of Flame, Frost or Shock (52gp) can either flavour a weapon with that particular element (no bonus to damage but can turn the damage aggravated if the creature is vulnerable to that type) or can be applied to a staff to make it magical.  The Trifling Glyph of Health, Willpower or Magicka (67gp) or Trifling Glyph of Speed or Initiative (60gp) provide a +1 bonus to that trait while the enchanted boots, helm, robes/armour or belt are worn.

The Maomer Embassy is guarded by Khakidan, a male Khajiit guard.  It also contains Chryseis, Maomer, who records supplies, Helmsreeve and Aldmeri envoy conversations, and other paperwork.  She retains her original job, though under guard, which Captain Rahiba and Headwoman Harrani state is because so many were slain during the battle that they lack the numbers to get the job done ... besides, Chryseis has been here a hundred years.  This is home to her.  Despite any misgivings the PCs might have, Chryseis is genuine in her duties and sees herself as a local here.  She's also shocked at the Tempest plans which seems unusually and unfairly brutal to her.  She also had a minor crush on the Silvenar which translates to an interest in any Bosmer she meets, though she won't admit it.  She particularly has a crush on Draugorin (see two paragraphs below) which is a sad state of affairs as he won't believe her innocence - she won't mention it though.

Clerk Aryaamo, Maomer male, is under house arrest and may not leave his room without an escort of guards.  They hope to transfer him to Auridon at some stage as they haven't the resources to manage him.  He is clearly an arrogant Maomer, though he's not keen on returning to the home island after learning that the Tempest plans would have wiped him out with all of the others.  He wasn't privy to the ambassador's plans and therefore could have been slain by the Green Lady or the Tempest itself.  He won't admit it but he could be won over to the locals' side if he were to remain here for a few more years (especially since Khajiit are more forgiving than most).

When they leave the Embassy, Draugorin, Bosmer male, approaches them demanding to know when the Maomer will be executed in memory of the dead Green Lady and Silvenar.  Does the Dominion not take us seriously?  He also wishes to know what happened to the ambassador.  He will chastise any Bosmer known to have dealings with the Maomer quite a bit.  He will demand they search the Maomer's rooms again.

Should the PCs do so, they find that the clerk really hasn't anything much of interest but Chryseis has a letter to Draugorin that has a few tear marks that simply states:

Dear Draugorin,
I recall you entering the embassy hot on the heels of that most wondrous of fellows, the Silvenar, and as he went to try his luck with our cruelly genocidal ambassador, you leant against the wall and regaled us with tales of Bosmer exploits and Silvenar antics until Clerk Ayaamo was blue in the face with telling you to be silent.  I did so love hearing those tales.  The Maomer are never so clearly happy, forever turbulent, and we would never speak of our king's 'antics' nor even use such familiar tones.  I see much in the Bosmer that I wish could have been experienced by my people.  A freedom there, a happiness, yet in your dealings with us you have been stung as all those who deal with venomous creatures are stung.  I know my apologies are not enough, can never be enough, but know that though my grief cannot hope to match your own, I do miss him and pity the world for his passing.  I also I think I  Oh to Oblivion with it all, you'll never read this.  I love your infectious smile and your freely given Bosmer ways.  I know you wish me dead
And there it stops.  If the PCs were to give this to Draugorin, he would wryly state that the Maomer have a soul, after all, and will be tickled pink by how the Silvenar converts all and that Ulondil must've just been soulless to do what he did.  He'll make his way in there, brushing off the guards as one of the Silvenar's men, and when she cowers back from him (thinking he will kill her), he instead pulls her in for a kiss that she obviously quite likes.

Once this quest is resolved, one way or another, Gathwen will approach the PCs.  She's ready to go.

Elder Scrolls Adventure: Khenarthi's Roost

The first Elder Scrolls Adventure will take place after the events of Khenarthi's Roost in Elder Scrolls Online.  The Silvenar has been assassinated using Daedric poison by the Maomer to ensure that they can finalise their Tempest mission to summon a hurricane to destroy more Dominion ships in order to maintain their control over the seas and Khenarthi's Roost (an island belonging to the Khaijit).  The Green Lady was persuaded to spare Ulondil, the ambassador and mer responsible for the assassination, and he was instead imprisoned and interrogated.  However this didn't stop the mighty Tempest ritual from being undertaken where the Maomer fed storm energies into a mighty storm-slave who was designed to explode and wash the island over with such energy - tearing apart the mountain to the north and wiping off all life forms barring the Thunder Bugs.  This ritual was undertaken while a number of Maomer were assaulting the island -- some of whom unknowing of their likely death.

The PCs, themselves, were found adrift in a rowboat having been on a ship that had been destroyed by the hurricane and miraculously having survived.

The Ebonheart Pact, however, has other plans.  Seeing the establishment of a Naval Base, they had their most powerful Dunmer Mages open a portal to Khenarthi's Roost where they sent three Dunmer mages and two Nord swordsmen to investigate.  Using mystical illusions and stolen uniforms, they appeared to be Altmer Members of the Dominion Marines.  Through quick investigation they located some of the most important people in town as well as Captain Irinwe's maomer ship which cowered in the northern isolated stretches of the island.

The Dunmer, Mivrose Rilrethi, donned the captain's likeness and stole aboard her ship.  He lay an alchemically treated handkerchief to her mouth and when she fell unconscious he placed her in a chest and had the crewmen take the chest down to a room belowdecks which she locked.  Since the ship had fewer crewmen (too many slaughtered in the attacks ashore), it was easy enough to refuse the crew that one room.

The Dunmer, Galydasea Krevyn, forged a writ from Headwoman Harrani so that she could enter the Maomer embassy where Ulondil was held imprisoned and feed him drugged wine.  During a gap in the guard's change, she ingested a Potion of Strength so she could pick up and carry Uldonil  back to the ship.

The Nord, Kottami Sabletongue, simply strode into the Chancery to speak with Headwoman Harrani alone and using his feigned rank of captain, convinced her of potential treachery in the ranks.  He led Headwoman Harrani out of the building, using the whispered conversations of other guards as evidence of their illdoing, and then while they were out of sight of all, he struck her over the back of the head and hid her in a cart that he pulled all the way back to the ship.

The Nord, Hamasel the Innocent, an ironic name if ever there was on, drew the attentions of Vicereeve Pelidil over sincere and shared distaste for Khajiit food and drink (too sweet).  When they went for a walk together, she clubbed him over the back of the head, threw him in a bag, and carried him back to the ship.

Evuliban Dresnimn, however, had been speaking to Gathwen, Rurelion's Apprentice and member of the Mage's Guild.  He learned how she was part of an expedition to the Mourning Springs Temple on Khenarthi's Roost with her master, Rurelion, but they disturbed an ancient maomer mage called Uldor and one of the two of them had to offer themselves up as a suit so that he could be entombed once more.  Rurelion was the one selected to be entombed with him.  Gathwen still misses him terribly and is eager to find a way to free him yet leave Uldor trapped.  After all, as she will counsel, Rurelion is a fine teacher who is taught even some of Queen Ayrenn's advisors.  Evuliban, curious about this possibility, questioned her further and learned that Uldor's brief freedom had been triggered by the mage, Ealcil's, removal of the mourning stone which produced a plentiful bounty of water that had kept Uldor locked in his body.  Evuliban filled her head with fanciful information about a hidden temple rumoured to be in the northernmost stretches of the island and then while camped out there he drugged her wine.

Evuliban Dresnimn has a plan.  While Mivrose Rilrethi and Hamasel the Innocent take the Serpent's Kiss back up to their place, Kottami Sabletongue, Galydasea Krevyn and himself will visit the Mourning Springs Temple to free Uldor and set him against Khenarthi's Roost and possibly Elsweyr itself -- knowing that he would likely wipe out them all out.

The PCs will be victims of this enterprise - kidnapped along with the others.

Race Guide
Equipment Guide
Adventure Part 1 - Retaking the Viper
Adventure Part 2 - Return to the Roost
Adventure Part 3 - Revelations of the Tomb

PS.  For those who are interested in running this adventure, be aware that I am using my own mix up of the World of Darkness.  Don't worry, though, you could run it in Pathfinder using these custom rules and simply advise the players to pick classes that fit the Elder Scrolls universe.  Or you could run it in any other custom system and simply use the adventure itself, if you like.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Khenarthi's Roost Adventure - Part 1 (Retaking the Viper)

Please check the basic adventure overview here if you haven't already.  I ran this adventure with the players gaining dots on their sheet depending on their actions, choices, beliefs, etc. for a total of 24 points.  Since I've been using the God Machine System where all skills have the same cost regardless of dot level, this worked really well so long as you ensure that you hand out skill dots at around the same time so that all the players end up with the same number of dots.  I gave them 7, 5, 4 attribute dots that they could spend as normal and helped them decide on 10 merit dots (basically spruiking likely ones and seeing if there were any takers).  Not all players will enjoy this route but mine did which is likely because it's a series of one shots rather than a campaign.

The players and the GM must figure out the how and why behind the PCs presence on the ship.  In my case, the Bosmer guard of the Silvenar (now sadly out of a job) drank too much and passed out on the street - and was taken from there; the Dunmer merchant was given a doped drink because the kidnappers considered him a traitor; and the third Dunmer had been trying to sneak her way to Auridon and so smuggled herself aboard their ship.

Ooh, also ensure the PCs have a name, too, at this stage.  When in doubt, this name generator can help a lot.

One of the PCs has been cuffed using the trick cuffs Captain Irinwe keeps in her room for entertainment purposes.  It's necessary that at least one isn't properly cuffed so that they can loosen the others - ideally a larcenous type.  All are bound though none are gagged, without weapons or armour.  Odds are they'll notice Captain Irinwe first.

Just as a pointer on Maomer ships, the ship has membranous sails and a rugged chitin hull with a rather narrow waistline that gives it an insectoid appearance.  Internally it is much like most sailing ships.

The PCs have company:
  • Captain Irinwe, a strong-willed and rather scathing Maomer who normally makes runs between the Maomer Embassy on Khenarthi's Roost and Pyandonea on her vessel, the Sea Viper.
  • Vicereeve Pelidil, an Altmer supremacist male who serves Prince Naemon and prefers him to Queen Ayrenn.
  • Ulondil, a Maomer who had been imprisoned in his own embassy following the Tempest Unleashed who sees no value in Khenarthi's Roost now that it has breached its own treaty to allow the Dominion safe harbour.
  • Harrani, the Headwoman Khajiit who leads the people of Khenarthi Roost and who is generally both cautious and unassuming.  
The players awaken, unarmed, and stripped of any armour.  If they are recently possessed, they are unbound and may move freely.  Otherwise the one wearing the trick cuffs works his or her way out of it and may untie the rope knots binding the PCs (the faux captain didn't have enough manacles for everyone).

The group may plot quietly together though naturally there are many recriminations.  Vicereeve Pelidil is quick to order the deaths of the two Maomer.  Ulondil tries to purchase his freedom while retaining dignity though he won't bother convincing any Bosmer once they figure out who he is (since he did orchestrate the death of their holy Silvenar).  Harrani cautions careful consideration of one's choices though she won't argue against anyone killing Ulondil now beyond a token effort at remaining civilised.  Captain Irinwe has no interest in Ulondil and bargains for herself - stating that she can reclaim her ship since her own people crew it and that she will let the others free if they help her escape (she isn't sure if she's telling the truth or not).

Only Captain Irinwe will offer to assist them in a battle as the others have no skill at it.

Captain Irinwe
Weapon To Be Stolen (6 dice to use)
Initiative 5
Speed 11
Defence 5
Armour To Be Stolen
She automatically gains +3 bonus to stealth checks while remaining still and enemies take a -2 penalty to see her even when she is moving so long as she is over 20 yards away.
Summon Sea Serpent
You may summon a small sea serpent (Size 3) out of the ether to fight by your side for 6 rounds once per day.  It has 6 dice (0 lethal) and a Toxicity 3 bite.

Once there is some semblance of order, generally once the door is picked, they will hear a single set of footsteps echoing across the wooden boards.  Only two can attack at once.  If they leap out at the figure they can get a single turn worth of attacks before it goes to initiative.  The figure is a Sea Viper crewman with a sword that will take a turn to draw (giving the players two turns to take him out even if he wins the initiative).  If he gets the chance to draw his sword, he will also call out to his friends.  If all of his health boxes fill with bashing, he will fall unconscious.

Maomer Crewman
-1 Iron Sword (5 dice to use)
Initiative 4
Speed 10
Defence 4
Hide Armour 1
Minor Health Potion

The other room, whose door stands open, has two sleeping Maomer still fast asleep and snoring (unless awoken by shouts).  Naturally Captain Irinwe, if alive, will want them unconscious.  She will also direct the players down into the hold to get their equipment from a chest (within which is another set of manacle keys should any of the PCs still be cuffed because the lockpicking roll failed).

NB: All characters at this level have either a simple destruction staff, iron weapons and armour or novice mage robes.  They may also have 50gp OR 2 Minor Magicka Potions OR Minor Health Potions.  If a PC should have had better gear beforehand, assume that it was stolen away from them or they have otherwise lost it.  In a game like this, loot is an important part of the puzzle.

There are three Maomer around the table, each armed with swords, who will be taken aback if Captain Irinwe is seen but upon seeing her with the prisoners will believe that she is the Dominion caster kidnapped by their captain (the caster called Gathwen).  They will therefore attack. 

Allow the PCs to be clever about this if they would like.  I instituted a semi-move action, like you get in Pathfinder, so that they could do things like shut a door between two enemies without giving up their full action to do so - while forcing the enemies to spend a turn reopening it.

Once they're dealt with they'll see a door leads to the companionway up into the aftcastle where they'll find Captain Irinwe's cabin.  Should they explore her cabin they will find a series of her maps overlaid on the table as well. 

They will also find Hamasel the Innocent who was sleeping in a sheer shift on the bed and who pretends to be a Nord slave, claiming to have been taken from the First Auridon Marines as they had considered her a traitor to her kind (9 dice on Subterfuge).  She will allow herself to be tied up (8 dice on Athletics to later escape) or will alternatively trail after them unarmed and will attack them if the tide of combat turns on them.  If they subdue those abovedecks too rapidly, she will continue in her role of innocent ingĂ©nue and see what information she can gather before ultimately betraying them.  She is a sociopath and will happily see the Dunmer die to protect her cover.  She also won't overplay her position - she has no interest in actively seducing anyone though she might happen to flirt to see them squirm.

Captain Irinwe will not be pleased if they loot her cabin though at present she has merely 3 glowing mushrooms (alchemy ingredient - 5gp), 2 bowls of moonsugar (alchemy ingredient - 50gp), salt shaker equivalent to 3 salt piles (alchemy ingredient - 2gp), and 5 small pearls (alchemy ingredient - 2gp).  There is also a tankard of Reedwine (weak alcohol provides a +1 stamina buff to all stamina-based dice rolls) and a honey treat.

There are five individuals above decks including the Dunmer, Mivrose Rilrethi.  Four of them are just the regular crewmen and they all assume Mivrose is the captain - an illusion which will stand until Mivrose is either rendered unconscious or slain.  Mivrose, an accomplished illusionist, will use spells to subtly set events in his favour.

Mivrose Rilrethi
+0 Steel Sword (3 dice to use, doesn't use)
Initiative 6
Speed 9
Defence 3
Magicka 10
Fire Resistance (takes bashing damage from fire)
Novice Mage Robes of Illusion +1 die rolls
Minor Health Potion x 2
Magicka Potion
Anchorstone Amulet: Increase healing times by 25%.
Created from a chunk of rock broken off of a Dark Anchor dolmen, this amulet still whispers  Coldharbour's secrets.
Cloak self in flame for 6 rounds, once per day,
those who strike you in melee range take 1 fire damage

Gathwen, Rurelion's Apprentice and a Bosmer member of the Mage's Guild, is gagged, bound and locked in a small cage on the deck.  If freed, she would join the fight but unless the key is taken from Mivrose, it will take far too long to pick the lock on both cage and manacles and remove the gag.  Thus her combat statistics are not included in this article.

Presuming that Captain Irinwe is still alive, once Mivrose Rilrethi has been knocked down, she will command any remaining crew to lay anchor and have a meal in celebration regardless of Gathwen's desperation to return to stop the other kidnappers.  They lack the numbers to sail the ship, after all (require 5 plus the captain to get the vessel going).

The PCs may gather their wits, converse and make plans at this stage.  They might interrogate Mivrose, if they like, though he has little information immediately relevant to their plans and won't give up Hammasel the Innocent unless tortured.

If Ulondil lives, his mere presence may convince Captain Irinwe to set sail for their home island with their valuable cargo and she will feign heading in the direction of Khenarthi's Roost to set them at ease (subterfuge or survival rolls will reveal the ruse) and a further battle is required to send them in the right direction.  If he is killed or otherwise kept tied up and out of her way, she will put up the white flag to meet the Aldmeri Navy and hand them over.  The Navy will allow her to leave ... though with gritted teeth.  To do otherwise would doom their own people.  Hammasel the Innocent will aim to leave with them, if at all possible, and if still alive.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Elder Scrolls: Basic WoD Equipment

For those planning to also run an Elder Scrolls game using God Machine's World of Darkness rules set, this is where I will putting equipment as I create it for the game.  Naturally you could also use some of the Fianyarr equipment lists but this stuff is specifically created to match Elder Scrolls items.

The bow type affects damage bonus (automatic damage added to successes from the attack roll) and range.

Longbow 0L 25 yards
Hunting Bow 0L 35 yards
Orcish Bow 1L 25 yards
Dwemer Bow 1L 35 yards
Elven Bow 2L 25 yards
Bosmerian Bone Composite Bow 2L 35 yards
Glass Bow 3L 25 yards
Ebony Bow 3L 35 yards
Daedric Bow 4L 25 yards
Dragonbone Bow 4L 35 yards

Arrows of these particular materials gain an attack penalty or bonus equal to the listed number.  Melee weapons (i.e. swords) of these particular materials gain and attack and damage penalty or bonus equal to the listed number.  Yes, this means that melee weapons can do way more damage eventually than a bow but you have to get in close and personal to do it which means taking more damage.

Rusty -2
Iron -1
Steel +0
Elven +1
Orcish +2
Dwemer +3
Glass +4
Ebony +5
Daedric +6

Armour downgrades damage (i.e. from lethal to bashing) from each single hit by the amount mentioned below.  Additional pieces of armour (greaves, bracers, pauldrons, helmets, boots, etc.) on top of the cuirass simply protect against called shots.

Light armour rarely provides any penalties as it's easier to wear.  Use the prices on the various Skyrim wikis but bear in mind that Elven light armour should always cost more than steel armour which is the less effective but cheaper option.  It should also be rare to find glass or daedric light armour as well.

Rawhide +1 armour, -1 Initiative
Hide / Fur +1 armour
Leather +2 armour
Elven / Scaled +3 armour
Glass  +4 armour
Daedric  +5 armour

Heavy armour provides a -2 penalty to Initiative and Stealth.

Rusty +3 armour, additional -2 penalties
Iron +3 armour, additional -1 penalties
Steel +3 armour
Dwemer +4 armour
Orcish +5 armour
Ebony +6 armour
Voidstone +7
Daedric +8 armour

Magicka Potions heals Magicka equal to the listed number.  Healing Potions heal lethal damage equal to the listed number OR if there's not enough lethal damage to heal it heals twice as much bashing damage instead.

Minor Magicka / Health Potion: +2
Magicka / Health Potion: +3
Plentiful Magicka / Health Potion: +4
Potent Magicka / Health Potion: +5
Extreme Magicka / Health Potion: +6
Ultimate Magicka / Health Potion: +7

Destruction Staff
Select Flame, Ice, or Electricity
Intelligence (for electricity) OR Presence (for flame) OR Resolve (for ice) + Staff.
Range is equivalent to Intelligence + Presence + Resolve x 2.
Costs 1 Magicka to use.
Successes deal lethal damage unless the character has resistance (deals bashing damage) or vulnerability (deals aggravated damage).

Robes provide no armour bonus but do assist the caster by reducing the Magicka regeneration rate and providing a dice bonus from particular schools.  Additional enchantments can be lain on these garbs.  Where two materials are listed, the second one is specifically for Bosmer who have sworn the Green Pact though natural anyone could wear them.

Novice Mage Robes (Jute / Coarse Spidersilk)
+1 bonus to dice rolls from a particular magic school.  Reduces Magicka regeneration rate from 1 hour to 30 minutes.  Requires Novice or higher ability in that school of magic.

Apprentice Mage Robes (Spidersilk)
+2 bonus to dice rolls from a particular mage school.  Reduces Magicka regeneration rate from 1 hour to 15 minutes.  Requires Apprentice or higher ability in that school of magic.

Adept Mage Robes (Kresh Fiber / Ebonthread)
+3 bonus to dice rolls from a particular mage school.  Reduces Magicka regeneration rate from 1 hour to 5 minutes.  Requires Adept or higher ability in that school of magic.

Expert Mage Robes (Ironthread / Silverweave)
+4 bonus to dice rolls from a particular mage school.  Reduces Magicka regeneration rate from 1 hour to 1 minute.  Requires Expert or higher ability in that school of magic.

Master Mage Robes (Void Cloth)
+5 bonus to dice rolls from a particular mage school.  Reduces Magicka regeneration rate from 1 hour to 1 round.  Requires Master or higher ability in that school of magic.

What do you guys think?  See any problems with this?  I'll be playtesting some of it this weekend so I'll tell you what I find.

Monday, September 15, 2014

LARP Organisation - Financial Costs or Why We Have Membership Fees

One of the things rarely mentioned in the various Create a LARP web-links I've found is the actual nitty gritties of the boring stuff that must go on in the background.  If you're in a litigious society, especially one where venues require public liability insurance and offer discounted rates to registered Not For Profits, you'll need to do quite a bit more to run a campaign LARP than simply hire a place and offer tickets.

You see, an event LARP can afford to pay the higher rates for a venue so long as it's relatively prop-lite / uses props already owned.  People will generally pay a higher ticket cost for something that has so much extra prep-work going into it than the more self-sufficient (but still time intensive) campaign LARPs where players must shoulder some of the burden in character creation, goal setting and interaction.  I think it's also partly because an annual event also feels more special than a monthly one so people can justify to themselves spending a little more (i.e. $15 instead or $3 - $5).

Generally private venue hire includes public liability insurance coverage (at least in South Australia) where your event can come under the venue's own insurance contracts.  Most venues have a limit of, say, four hires per year where you can do this.  This is basically a 'Private Hire' and explains how people can hire such places for birthday parties and other celebrations without having to take out event insurance ($250 a pop).

If you wanted to run a campaign LARP under the private venue hire rules in South Australia, you could still do it using the higher hourly rates but you'd need to change the venue every fifth time in a year.  True, you could run it as an unincorporated association (i.e. informal club) but very few organisations / councils recognise them and insurance companies certainly don't.

In Adelaide, the average meeting room has an hourly rate of $10 - $20 for a private hire.  Larger spaces like halls tend to sit between $40 - $75 an hour, especially on weekends (Friday night to Sunday night).  If you want meeting rooms on top of that, you have to pay the combined rates.

Generally Not For Profits get to pay half to a quarter of that rate - sometimes meeting rooms will be free though halls rarely are unless you get really lucky.  They do need someone to contribute to the cost of the building's overheads and all that.  (Increasingly venues won't offer reduced rates on weekends due to a lack of funding from other sources - so even as a Not For Profit you need to shop around).

Therefore becoming a real Not For Profit can save you a lot of money.  I don't yet know the cost of public liability insurance (which covers damage to property and passersby) for a dice LARP but boffer LARP insurance can cost around $1800 for $10 million insurance.  That boils down to $150 per session if you run 12 a year - which compared to $250 for event insurance for each game for a private hire, is a saving of $100.

Of course, very little is free these days.  Not only does a Not For Profit require a constitution and a committee, but there's an incorporation fee (currently $181) alongside other sundries such as cash boxes, ledger books, occupational first aid kits (potentially sporting first aid kits), and rubber stamp.

Then when running the actual events, there are venue fees that will generally range between $10 to $20 an hour if you're clever and lucky, insurance that could reach up to $1850, and a bond for the events that can range from nil (rare), $250 (less common) to an average of $500 and a high of $1000.  That's a lot of money to put up front for an event and it's likely to come out of the organiser's pockets and you don't get the bond back until after you stop using that venue.

This is the reason why most LARP organisations charge some kind of membership fee on top of the actual session fee.  There are a lot of costs and if you want to get to the point where you can pay deposits and bonds as well as purchase props without digging into the organiser's pockets and reimbursing them later on, then there also needs to be a small profit per event.  This profit can also help the game survive if there's a small slump in either members or attendees.  If you're barely breaking even then even one player dropping out can put you in the red.

There are alternatives naturally but in Australia you have all the legal responsibilities (as an unincorporated association) but fewer protections, can't apply for grants, can't open a bank account for the organisation and will likely need to run the game out of your own house.  There are also convention LARPs which normally involve a single event run using the insurance provided by the convention itself.  Either option can work for some LARPs and not for others.

So ... any thoughts?  Any queries?  What's it like in other countries?

(Also, let me know if this article isn't very clear.  There's a lot of details in there and it's easy to make it over convoluted and confusing.)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Elder Scrolls Meets Demon the Fallen (Adventure Prelude)

At least they aren't summoned into Hermaeus Mora's realm.  (Skyrim picture)
The players each receive their blank character sheet that is akin yet different to the regular World of Darkness sheet.  The main differences are that they have no "Power Stat" but they do have a "Magicka" bar that begins with a cap of 10 but can become much higher. 

Their mental skills include Academics, Alchemy, Folklore, Investigation, Magical Sciences, Politics, Smithing, Science while their physical skills include Athletics, Brawl, Archery, Larceny, Staff (magic), Sneak, Survival and Weaponry.  Their social skills are much the same as in any World of Darkness game.

The players must first select a fallen name for their Aedra.  If they can't immediately come up with one, using a random generator for god names, angel names and demon names will help. 

Then the game itself starts with the characters lost and adrift within darkness with dim memories of being partially responsible for the creation of a sterile and breathtaking universe alongside the other Aedra where all was perfection and stasis.  Lorkhan saw that it was sterile and convinced a number of the Aedra that the world needed to be set in reality and gifted to creatures that could explore and wander at it.  While most of your kind were repulsed by the very idea, Lorkhan's words proved very inspirational to some.  You were one of those many Aedra who sided with Lorkhan and helped remake the world.  The other Aedra warred with you.  Many fell.  Some were destroyed by their acts of creation itself.

Each Aedra who bought into Lorkhan's plan came to specialise and fall within a few small realms.  At this stage the GM should offer seven keywords and ask the PCs to pick the one they like the most which describes their starting concept: Leadership, Protection, Construction, Comprehension, Inspiration, Evolution and Solace.  Once a term is selected, read out the three sub-houses and have the player pick their favourite.

For those players who want a less whimsical character creation, simply go straight for reading out the below information and have the players choose at the end.

Either way, each sub-house provides a bonus to an attribute, provides a magical discipline dot and a single spell.  The discipline dot represents what level of spell that PC can learn.  1 dot: Novice.  2 dot: Apprentice.  3 dot: Adept.  4 dot: Expert.  5 dot: Master.  The free spells are from the Mage: the Awakening core rulebook except for Alter Voice which simply allows the fallen to change their voice for a scene.  Each Novice spell costs 1 Magicka to cast.  They don't get access to the usual Demon: the Fallen lores and may only select 4 points worth of apocalyptic form traits (more will be unlocked in future).


The Namaru (+1 Presence and Resolve) were those who concerned themselves with enhancing the Magicka of others to achieve the will (Bel), who used such Magicka from light to forge the flame within the world and who pierced the sky to allow in Aetherial light in the form of the suns and star (Nusku) and who kindled sentience in the minds of certain races to elevate them from a beast's instincts (Qingu).

Bel = Alteration (Dispel Magic) - Presence + Magical Sciences
Qingu = Mysticism (Sense Consciousness) - Wits + Empathy
Nusku = Alteration (Control Heat) - Presence + Science


The Asharu (+1 Dexterity and Wits) were those who understood how to bring life to form to separate matter for existence (Dagan), who spoke within the minds of those made sentient to give them guidance (Anshar) and who spread air upon the land to separate the heavens from the worlds themselves (Elil).

Anshar = Mysticism (Sense Life) - Wits + Investigation
Dagan = Restoration (Healer's Trance) - Wits + Science
Elil = Alteration (Influence Sound) - Presence + Expression


The Anunaki (+1 Strength and Intelligence) were those who had sculpted some of the sterile matter and now they gave themselves to crafting the laws of the worlds to make them traversable to the living things (Antu), to building into the weave of items the properties of magic that would allow one to gift one's favourites with power (Mummu) and who played with the soil and rocks to make an intriguing landscape capable of giving forth life (Kishar).

Antu = Alteration (Angle Paths) - Wits + Survival
Kishar = Mysticism (Detect Substance) - Wits + Smithing
Mummu = Enchanting (Analyse Enchanted Item) - Wits + Magical Sciences


The Neberu (+1 Wits and Intelligence) were those who were set to divine the reactions of the Aedra (Ninsun), draw down the magicka from the sky and turn it into light so that all might see (Shamasha), and to open the Ways between places that were otherwise set into traversable lines so that one could - if one needed - leap from one place to the next in an instant (Nedu).

Nedu = Mysticism (Spatial Awareness) - Wits + Survival
Ninsun = Mysticism (Finder) - Wits + Investigation
Shamash = Alteration (Influence Light) - Presence + Magical Sciences


The Lammasu (+1 Wits and Manipulation) were those who knew that living beings would require a changing world and so they cast weather and water to change the lands (Adad), provided clues and hints and whispers that would inspire the living to find their own answers (Ishhara), and to best inspire them they learned ways of walking among them unseen so that they appeared as any other living thing (Mammetum).

Adad = Restoration (Sense Poisons & Drugs) - Wits + Alchemy
Ishhara = Mysticism (Aura Perception) - Wits + Empathy
Mammetum = Illusion (Alter Voice)* - Manipulation + Expression


The Rabisu (+1 Stamina and Intelligence) were those who took the desires of the other Aedra and made them into whole creatures so that the worlds could be overrun with species of every kind, both plant (Ninurtu) and animal (Zaltu), and who then turned their designs to shaping those given sentience by the Asharu so that they could be better shaped to use such minds (Aruru).

Aruru = Restoration (Forego Rest) - Stamina + Survival
Zaltu = Restoration (Analyse Life) - Intelligence + Alchemy
Ninurtu = Mysticism (Pulse of the Living World) - Wits + Survival


Finally for life to exist, so must death, for without the latter no change is possible and all is doomed to sterility, so the Halaku (+1 Resolve and Composure) came forth to take on this sacred task by reclaiming the matter from the dead so that none may puppet them in death (Namtar), providing solace to the dead souls before returning them to this world in forms anew (Nergal), and crafting underworld landscapes for temporary afterlives in keeping with the needs of mortal minds so that there would be respite between life journeys (Ereshkigal).

Namtar = Mysticism (Forensic Gaze) - Intelligence + Investigation
Nergal = Conjuration (Speak With The Dead) - Resolve + Expression
Ereshkigal = Alteration (Shadow Sculpting) - Dexterity + Folklore

The darkness widens into a purplish light and a feminine voice commands them to come and they do, drawn out into the ancient bastion of Moonshadow, a place lit in bright lilacs and purples, with glistening white crystal stoneworks forming the bulk of the buildings.  They may roam its silent halls and rose gardens for a short while before Azura's voice speaks to them once more and commands them to fill the bodies of those whose souls have been stolen by soul gems.

Azura draws them via a silvery-violet light into a Great Hall filled with niches where statues of the various races stand around them.  The players may choose their race from the core ten.  Once chosen, they merge with the individual and disappear from this realm to enter the other world (see Khenarthi's Roost adventure). 

NB: I have a document filled with the races and their racial bonuses.  I may post up the information at a later date if there's much interest.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Demon: Lore of Wilds

Wilds gives control over nature's glories.  (Skyrim picture)
Wilderness Sense
You have a full mental map of the plants and animals located in an area equal to Faith in miles across and may make a Wits + Survival roll to scrutinise that mental map for higher minds (i.e. humans and supernaturals).  Success locates their general vicinity (within 50 feet) but only discriminates between type if the animals would be particularly stressed by the supernatural type (i.e. could be used to discriminate between changelings, mages and mortals on the one side and vampires, werewolves and certain claimed on the other, but couldn't discriminate within those groups).  This cannot be used to detect mystical obfuscation / invisibility powers that would work against animals.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Wits + Survival + Wild.
High Torment: You can force a clash of wills against obfuscated or invisible creatures within the air  by linking your mind more directly and forcefully with the general wilderness.

Quicken Growth
You can provide sustenance to all flora within miles equal to Faith as though they had been recently fertilised OR you may instantly revivify a single plant you touch which has recently died causing it to bud new leaves before one's very eyes OR you can cause a single plant or tree to bear fruit or some other seasonal product within seven rounds.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Presence + Survival + Wild.
High Torment: You can damage all flora within miles equal to Faith as though you had recently sprayed a weak pesticide upon them OR you may instantly kill a single plant you touch causing it to wither and die OR you can cause a single plant or tree to bear fruit that appears healthy but is actually poisonous (Toxicity 3 poison).

Command the Wild
You can cause a single woody plant or several bushy ones within yards equal to Faith to grow in size and thickness, creating cover that has armour equal to successes for yourself OR you can cause a single seed to sprout and gain size equal to successes OR you can make a tree or similarly large plant move a limb in an attack that deals bashing damage whose dice pool is equal to your successes.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Presence + Survival + Wild ( - Defence).
High Torment: You can attack others using a tree limb as a reflexive action.

Possess Plant
You can enter any plant that you are touching and pass through their root systems from plant to plant and tree to tree.  You can travel anywhere within miles equal to Faith in this manner anywhere that has enough plants (i.e. tree-lined streets and lawned gardens would do, sandy deserts and largely bitumen and tarmac wouldn't).  If you have previously cast Wilderness Sense, you can then use your regular senses as though you were standing in the place of a particular plant (as in a manner of speaking, you are).  If for some reason you must pass through a reasonable distance of dead plants, you may do so with the expenditure of a willpower point which will revivify them (giving them another shot at life).
Action: Instant.
Cost: 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Survival + Wild.
High Torment: You can cause the vegetation you pass through to wilt and begin to die but until then those you nominate (up to Faith in number) will suffer a -2 environmental penalty to any rolls made while traversing plant-filled areas (including garden lawns) which can cause mishaps that have their own damage dice pool equal to your successes on the roll (i.e. tripping over a tree root and landing on a garden gnome).  This dice pool is only bashing but as the damage / troubles last for a day it can certainly add up.

Mutate Plant
You can enter change any of a plant's characteristics on a genetic level - spending successes on increasing / decreasing it's size; changing the colour or shape of a leaf, petal or general branch configuration; changing the chemical qualities and purity within the plant; changing the taste and nutritional content of its fruit; and changing how it draws in nutrients (i.e. plants that live off air, plants the dissolve meat).  Such changes must be plausible within a living plant unless the Rabisu is content to keep it alive using lores.  This can be performed on lichen, moss and fungi.
Action: Instant.
Cost: 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Survival + Wild.
High Torment: You can give the plant greater mobility and reaction times so that it can either attack those not wearing the right pheromone with a limb or root OR grapple them OR move to connect with their skin to release a damaging toxin or skin irritant.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Elder Scrolls Adventure Set

Elder Scrolls Online: Such a beautiful game.
I will be running a few adventures set in the Elder Scrolls universe with some Demon: the Fallen mingled in using a thoroughly mongrelised system using The World of Darkness.  To help prepare my players I went and used The Same Page information tool so they have some idea what to expect game-wise.  I'll post up a few of the adventures and some of the character generation and mechanical considerations in later articles but this one is mostly focused on player points.

Should I play to win?

-ish.  It's assumed that you will succeed in your endeavours but the definitions of win / lose and success / failure are vague and subjective so more like an RP-heavy Pathfinder game than typical World of Darkness.
Player Characters are:

expected to interact with each other as a group alongside the NPCs, taking an interest in each other as much as the NPCs, and generally working together unless there's a pressing reason for a major conflict that should have been worked into the tale beforehand during character generation.
The GM's role is:

The GM preps a series of scenarios, using the map and other resources from the game world as a backdrop and additional filler, and highlighting different quests as they come up, while remaining flexible to player choices and decisions with regards to the how / what / when / why and even if they will get involved (bearing in mind that players shouldn't unfairly ignore a plot without good in-character justification).

The players' roles are…

…to engage with the game world and each other, making meaningful decisions and occasionally bashing down the door to take down monsters dungeon-style - basically a fantasy world adventurer simulation - play the world, play the personality, play the social environment, but also cut down the monsters and take the loot.

Doing the smartest thing for your character's survival…

…is generally what the average person would do and therefore fits well into the simulationist adventurer scenarios though sometimes themes of self-sacrifice and martyrdom may arise -- it's really up to you how you handle that.

The GM's role to the rules is…

…to invent sub-systems as they come up but once the house rules are agreed upon, they should be reliable without modification unless serious errors become apparent.

After many sessions of play, during one session, a player decides to have her character side with an enemy.  This is…

…where the character becomes an ST-guided PC (somewhat independent NPC) and will only last until the other PCs find out and do something about it.  It should therefore be quite rarely done and only for the most meaningful and powerful of reasons.

A fistfight breaks out in a bar!  The details of where everything is - tables, chairs, where everyone is standing is something that…

…is important though generally there won't be anything but the most rudimentary and quickly drawn maps and miniatures (and then only sometimes).  Clever players can gain dice bonuses or inflict dice penalties for using the terrain to their advantage  - such modifiers will be determined on an ad hoc basis but will generally reflect the World of Darkness rules.  This may be tied into a quick and easy merit sub-system but that remains to be seen.

In order to really have fun with this game, the rulebook is something that…

…is spread over so many different books and inside my own head that I wouldn't really bother with it beyond what you already know about the World of Darkness mechanics.  Even character creation will happen in-game.  Please try to remember the rules as they come up, though.  Most of them are quite simple.

Further details:

You don't need to know the Elder Scrolls universe.  If you would like to discover it in-game, your character's death can be caused via severe head trauma leading to total amnesia.  You will begin the game as one of the major races of the Aldmeri Dominion, i.e. a Khaijit (catperson), Altmer (high elf) or Bosmer (wood elf) unless the concepts of the second tier (easily workable but non-core groups) really flare your imagination.  These include Orsimer (wood orc variety), Maomer (sea elf - think pirates rather than mermaids as they can't breathe underwater), and Argonian (lizard people, generally refugees).