reverancepavane: (Artemidoris)

Something I just read reminded me of an encounter between a human paladin, Sir Aster, and some twenty or so orcs. The paladin didn't want to fight as he was rather outnumbered and there were too many innocent civilians around that he and his squire would be unable to protect if it came to pitched battle. So in desperation he challenged the leader of the orcs to a duel of champions, and was surprised when the orc agreed, even though it was not that unusual amongst orcs (but more so when both sides are reasonably well matched). Although surprise gave way to consternation when the orc said that it would be unfair to fight someone with all that magic armour, so they should do it mano-a-orco, with no armour or weapons. Still seeing no solution, the paladin agreed, and stripped to his padding, whilst the orc stripped to his loincloth. Now the paladin was quite an impressive specimen, but the orc overtopped him by about a head and was built like the proverbial brick out-house. Before the fight started they negotiated the wager to be settled by the fight. The paladin managed to get the terms he wanted - mainly that win or lose, the civilians would be unharmed, although, if he lost, he would be the orc's prisoner for ransom. The orc, in a show of apparent bravado, offered the same terms, that the orcs would be his prisoner if they lost.

So they face off between the two sides began. The paladin prayed to his god and swung a haymaker at the orc's chin - and nearly broke his hand. Cradling his hurt hand, the paladin watched the orc just stand there ... and then slowly topple over, hitting the ground like a sack of bricks.

A win by TKO. Amazing

The orc's second in command came up to the amazed paladin and dropped his weapons before him, saying "Wows! Zat's sum right hook ya got there. No ways we's could compete with dat. We's all of uz your prisoners now. We's surrender. Right! We is prizoners nowl and expect to be treated akordin to dat Genevieve Konvention." The paladin nodded in stunned surprise.

The orc, whose name was later to be determined to be Tolrend, turned to the surrounding brush and yelled out. "OK geyz! We's iz prizoners now of dis paladin fellow. You cans come out now." And the brush slowly disgorged a motley troop of about a hundred half-starved orcs, mainly females and the young and the very old, in addition to the twenty or so warriors the paladin had met on the road. "We iz awl yourz prizoners nowl. I go wake up Gorbash."

He went over to the recumbent Gorbash and lightly prodded his foot. "Git up Gorbash! U failed! Fancy a puny ooman beating you like dat. Da gods reely must favour im. We iz hiz prizoners nowl."

Gorbash sat up and put a hand to his head (the other side from that which the paladin hit). "Da godz must not be pleezed with uz. We iz prizoners nowl. Oh dearz."

He looked around.

"So, win do wez eat. Ya got to feed prizoners you noh."

Eventually Sir Aster settled the orcs on a vacant village on the estates of his father. But the orcs insisted all the time that they were his "prizoners" and would accept no paroles, no matter how hard Sir Aster tried. They even, provided the paladin with a suitable bodyguard, insisting that since he beat their chief he deserved one. So the rest of his career as a paladin Sir Aster had to keep explaining that "he really was a paladin, honest," despite the half-a-dozen orcs usually in attendance. He eventually ended his life with the firm believe that orcs were irredeemably evil for what they had done to him.

reverancepavane: (Fractal Infection)

It's been a while since I've been well enough to do one of these, so here, at long last, is entry J from my old fantasy campaign.

J is for Justice )

Next Up: K is for Knights.

reverancepavane: (Cthulhu)

I never really had the right touch for running Call of Cthulhu myself. That, and I was privileged to know four excellent gamemasters of it. Although that being said, I did run two Cthulhoid-style adventures. One was part of my Stormbringer game, and the strange gods worshipped in the Forest of Oos. Interesting, mainly for the fact that Melniboneans eat weirder creatures with their breakfast serial. The other one was an Aftermath game set in New York City, after The Stars Had Changed. NYC had actually gone three stories underwater and then risen again (unbeknownst to the players a team of NPC adventurers had managed to stop "The Change" half-way through at the cost of their own lives). It was a survival game. There were Zombies (humans whose minds had shattered with The Change), Quislings (those human cultists that supported the invaders), and the Resistance (the players and the others like them). One of the World Trade centre towers was a Mi-Go spaceport. There were shoggoth in the sewers. And they managed to make a Cthulhu-sized taser, whichg I just had to rule as being quite effective. Sanity didn't play a big part of the game either; it was assumed that if you made it this far with your sanity intact you weren't in any more danger.

Why do I mention this? Probably due to some discussion recently on Grognardia about Gamma World and The Morrow Project and the survival of human constructions 150 years later on, and the recently released Cthulhu Apocalypse series for Trail of Cthulhu (by Graham Wlmslay), which seems to be heading in that direction. Plus, thinking about Abandon All Hope.

Oh well.Quite enjoyed Sucker Punch. Which is not entirely the non-sequitar it may seem. Steam-powered Sturmtruppen!

reverancepavane: (tarrant)

Just came across my notes* for my Martian Fantasy AD&D world. Considering that it was really the background design notes for a tournament scenario (or rather, half a tournament game to be precise), that never got played, it is surprisingly detailed. There are maps, crude sketches of the equipment, details of philosophy, culture and history, and, being me, the extensive rule-mods for how it would actually work.

It was a tribute to the pulp sword & sci-fi worlds, such as Edgar Rice Burrough's Barsoom and Venus series, Leigh Brackett's Skaith series, Gardner F Fox, Jack Vance's Planet of Adventure and Dying Earth series, and L. Sprague de Camp's Krishna series. It used the theory that the age of a planet's civilization was based on it's distance from the Sun, so Venus was a dinosaur inhabited swamp, whilst Mars was a dying world, with the last bastions of the cities dying in slow elegance as the deserts encroached. The last ditch effort of having built the massive canals to provide the equatorial cities with water was failing due to an inability to maintain them. The machinery on which the cities depended was slowly failing due to lack of vital parts.

As a campaign world it gave plenty of opportunity. Ready-made dungeons in the form of abandoned cities that may contain the supplies needed to maintain your own city/state. Politics between the various neighbouring city-states, including some that are trying to maintain themselves via conquest. Barbarian brigands, riding six-legged reptilian sleeth, raiding cities and caravans from the deserts. Old cults preserving portions of incomplete lore and exotic training. Lots of fun stuff.

As a tournament game, I wanted an exotic locale that would spark people's imaginations. I wanted to give fighters access to high-level magic in the form of fire pistols (wand of fire) and cold rifles (staves of cold). I wanted to have skimmers, relics of archaic technology, so I could have a night skimmer chase across the desert. I wanted the players to be members of the Royal Guard who stumble upon the kidnapping of the Princess, and set off in immediate pursuit. I wanted a difficult moral choice in the middle of the adventure. And I wanted the heroes to return triumphant. Or fail heroically.

[I also, apparently wanted to make extensive use of the fact that the old Martians made use of a material produced by their machines (which given the template and raw material would produce the object), called plas. It came in various grades of increasing rarity and hardness, so you had plas ero, plas wan, plas do, plas tre, plas for, and the toughest, plas fiv. Not the first time I'd based an entire tournament or campaign on a really bad pun.**]

The problem is that as I developed the world it drifted to far away from the sort of D&D experience people were familiar with. Especially since, at the time, we allowed people to design their characters for the tournament,*** and this would really require them to effectively design two separate parties (normally players took the same characters into both of the games we ran in the tournament). Especially since adepts ("mages") gained their powers by using a PK headband, which seemed to require limitations in their spell choice, and savants (priests) major power in the campaign world seemed to be being able to "talk" to the machines in the basements of the cities, which seemed to limit their powers to use in the "temples" under the city. Interesting variations, yes. Playable in a tournament game, especially since it seemed to mix all the roles, probably not. So by actually developing a consistent background I talked myself out of what might have been a perfectly good tournament scenario.

So Her Highness, The Princess Cassie of Galantré, was never kidnapped**** by ninja-cultists in a black skimmer, and never got to fall in love with her rescuer.

* Courtesy of a city council that believes it is perfectly fine to start the preparations for roadworks at 6am in the morning (for those that know where I live, it seems I'm no longer to have a road outside my door. They've decided it is becoming a landscaped park instead. Which means even more taxi's are going to give up on finding my address than they do now...). Grrrrrr!

** A game I had written for a tournament interstate hinged on the Forces of Evil (in this case The Followers of the Eye in particular) had kidnapped the Princess Beauty and were planning to sacrifice her. So the Forces of Good launch a massive fleet to try and capture the island fortress, but only the player-characters make it ashore [the twist in this game was to allow the players anything they wanted at the start of the game, then give them a copy of the swimming in armour rules and a short card for them to specify exactly what they are carrying and where, and then watch them throw away all their equipment, save what they consider to be the very most essential, as they hurriedly launch the lifeboat from their stricken craft (munched by a sea serpent, I believe).] While everyone is occupied with the massive conflict, can they sneak in, rescue the Princess, disrupt the ceremony, and bring victory for Goodness and Light.

Now let me ask you, if you were seeking to rescue a Princess named Beauty, and the Evil Cult seemed to have a thing about beholders being the agents/messengers of their god, and their rooftop temple contained a gigantic bronze statue of a beholder, with crystal eyes, facing east, with dawn rapidly approaching (the prophesied climactic moment), where would you look? I thought it was obvious too. Apparently a lot of teams didn't. And really, really hated that the module was based on that pun. Oh well. Live and learn, or die and be reduced to your base essence in a giant solar furnace shaped like a beholder.

[Perhaps having them meet "the gamemaster" in the game, where he immediately referred to them as the spear-carriers and then asked them where the famous heroes who were supposed to be here actually were, demoralised them a bit too much... <grin>]

*** Which did lead to the interesting tournament, where one group decided (based on the previous year's tournament and the fact that one player was a fan of the class), to make up a party with four out of the six characters being druids, only to discover that one game sent them to Hell to recover an artefact, whilst the other sent them to a labyrinth constructed on the astral plane. In the first, you really didn't want to call any of the local wildlife; in the second, there wasn't any wildlife to call. I think they either won or placed pretty high in the final rankings though, because if you were smart and savvy adventurers you could usually do pretty well without actually needing to rely on your special abilities.

**** Yes, I seem to have a thing about rescuing captured princesses. What part of "incurable romantic," don't you understand?

reverancepavane: (Default)

H is for Halfing )

reverancepavane: (tarrant)

E is for Elves )

I'm stuck! Any suggestions for a topic for "F" will be heartily accepted. At the moment, being neither a marine biologist nor a dedicated fisherperson, about all I could say about "fish" is that they exist, and the pelagic fish had a reputation for being big and viscious (the campaign was based on one continent and attached coastal islands (especially after The Shattersea), so attempts at intercontinental travel were ... discouraged. [And the other two fantasy games from which this one was derived, and the unplayed one which resulted, had little of no marine adventures. Although there was that experiment of running a fantasy Star Trek, replacing Star Fleet with The Church (and where the captains of the Romulan-equivalent ships had cloaks). {You don't have to be mad to work here, but it helps.}]

reverancepavane: (Default)

D is for Dragon )


reverancepavane: (Omegahedron)

C is for Coinage )

PS: Did anyone try my cookie recipe?

reverancepavane: (Buffy)
[Poll #1438021]ETA: Forgot to add "Chimaera"</td></tr></table>
reverancepavane: (Omegahedron)

The am bush is a small shrub that grows to between two and three feet in height, preferring well-drained and slightly shaded terrain, such as the sides of hills and the light woodlands (or the edges of heavy forest). The dark glossy green leaves are elliptical and up to 5 cm long. The flowers are pale pink, bell-shaped, and about 1cm long. It produces a clusters of dark purple epigynous berries throughout the year.

The berries are a mild stimulant when chewed, and are very successful in banishing the physical effects of fatigue. Experienced travellers often chew the berries on long journeys, taking care to spit them out when the juice is extracted (the seeds within the berries have a mild laxative effect when swallowed). This has contributed to the spread of the am bush along many of the well-travelled routes, particularly when they pass through suitable terrain. Am berries are best transported and chewed fresh; attempt to dry or juice the berries have been less successful, although an infusion of am berry tea is often helpful for those with certain digestive problems.

[Things get invented in role-playing games. If I like them, they tend to get reused and become traditional elements in future incarnations of the campaign. This is planned to be a series of twenty-four things from my old fantasy games that became established truths through play. And yes, there are some people in every party who want to look for possible ambushes when they come to every grove and hillside. And now they can find them.]

reverancepavane: (Yoshino)

I suppose I should mention my first attempt at a space campaign before I mention the third. Traveller had just come out, so there was just the basic three books and the game Mayday. In other words, the rules were not so closely tied into the ideas and background that eventually became the Imperium. In fact, at the time, I thought Imperium was just a fancy word for Empire. It was not until I started studying Roman law about twenty years later that I realised the significance of term, and the actual structure of the Imperium. Anyway, at that time Traveller was a very generic SF rule system, although it tended towards the realistic rather than the operatic.

I haven't bored you yet? How strange. )

reverancepavane: (Yoshino)

The Prometheus Campaign was my second major space role-playing campaign, and the first one to be played extensively. It used a slightly modified set of the Traveller rules, with the major modifications being in the setting and technology. First of all, gravitics and jump drives didn't exist. There was no FTL travel at all, and humanity was trapped in the solar system. Whilst there had been talk of constructing STL colony ships, the net drain of resources of an overpopulated Earth meant that that was a political impossibility. What space industry existed, primarily existed to feed the insatiable maw of Earth.

More nostalgia below the cut )

[One of the advantages of 4th ed D&D is that it has added impetus to the so-called Old School Renaissance. And reading some of the comments of proponents of the Old School has gotten me somewhat nostalgic, so I thought I'd share some of my old campaigns for your edification and enjoyment. The fact that I actually started off with a space campaign I ran as a teenager, rather than a fantasy campaign, is irrelevant.]

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Ian Borchardt

October 2012

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