Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Random Scene Challenges for Vampire

I recently got a copy of the 5th Edition of Vampire: The Masquerade. One of its elements that stood out to me was a narrative approach to resolving scenes, often with a single skill check. Basically, the Storyteller describes a scene and the challenge related to it, the player makes the roll, and then together they come up with an explanation of what happened. This is not intended as the primary resolution system, but a way to simplify more basic scenes and to keep the focus on the drama, rather than on the dice rolls.

It honestly reminded me quite a bit about how various Solo games handle scene resolution--in particular Libre and Bivius. You use the rolls to define the action, rather than the opposite. In a standard scene, a player declare that they are going to throw a punch; they would then roll dice, resolve the action, and deal with whatever consequences. Often with a lot of back and forth. In this setup, the idea is that you would roll a single combat roll, and that would resolve the entirety of the fight. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

MoMj: The Corruption Saga - Session 21

Knowing they were going to be questioned, The Men took some time to get their story straight while in the cell of the brig. They did so quietly, unsure of how many eyes and ears were on them beyond the guards nearby. It didn't take long before the Men were taken one by one up to the deck of the frigate. Deirik was questioned first about his recent whereabouts, his associates, how he knew the Pirate Princes, what they were doing on the island, where they were going... the list goes on and on. As soon as Deirik was brought down, Ygvard was taken up.

Deirik took that opportunity to relay what he was asked to the others and what his answers were. Unfortunately, Ygvard wasn't given the chance to hear that information, so when he was asked the same questions - they didn't perfectly align with Deirik's answers, and even those slight discrepancies were enough to let doubt remain. Boldulf's and Eirik's answers all aligned to Deirik's, to the surprise of no one.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Thousand Year Old Vampire


Thousand Year Old Vampire is a Solo Roleplaying game, in which you chronicle the centuries of existence as one of the undead. It was launched as a Kickstarter on October 24th, 2018.  As part of the Kickstarter campaign, a set of playtest rules were included with the campaign. The following Actual Play was based on these playtest rules.

The story follows the existence of Roman politician Lucius Casius from the end of the Republic till the Italian Renaissance. I do not wish to spoil too much about the game, or the playthrough below. I will simply say that Thousand Year Old Vampire was a unique and impactful game; something many games strive for, but few succeed. If you are discovering this on or before November 15th, 2018, I strongly urge you to support the Kickstarter here. If afterwards, look for the game on drivethrurpg.

Thousand Year Old Vampire, A Sort of Homecoming

Welcome back. In the last post, Lucius went, well, let’s be honest, a little mad. But, perhaps it was for the best, as it drove him to reconnect with Aurelia, and the two reuniting. If not as lovers, at least as friends.
I feel time needs to pass, so I set this in the 15th Century. The Italian Renaissance is in full bloom Let’s see what happens next. I roll a 5 and a 3, giving me a 2. This leads me to event 71.
An Immortal Character has been destroyed by Mortals. How did you come to find out about this? What did you lose? Create a Skill based on a Memory. Create an Immortal if necessary.
There are four possible contenders for this. Semnai (1), Aurelia (2), Antenor (3), or Marcus (4). I roll a d4 and get a 2.
Aurelia and I spend the next few centuries together, as companions and friends. We are eventually discovered, though, by hunters. She urges us to fight back, I insist we flee. She follows me, but so do the hunters. She is caught alone one night, and destroyed. In my cowardice, I had let my only friend be destroyed.
I add Stealth as a Skill, based on his long history of running and hiding from conflict.
Next, I get a 4 and a 1, for a 3. I move to prompt 74.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Thousand Year Old Vampire, Corruption and Forgiveness


Welcome back. When we last left the game of Thousand Year Old Vampire, Lucius was wandering the back roads of early medieval Europe disguised as a friar, both preaching heresy and feeding from the faithful. I feel like a time jump is coming, but I want to wait and see what prompts I get. I was last on prompt 51. Using that as a base, I roll a d10 and get a 7. I then roll a d6 and get a 2. Subtracting the results of the d6 from the d10, I get 5. I add this to my current prompt of 51, and end up at 56.
You begin a fantastic construction which puzzles the Mortals around you. What is it made of? Give a hint as to its purpose. Lose a Resource, gain the Skill “Visionary.”
Oh, no. No, no, no. The only Resource I have is my Diary, and that is the only thing reminding me of the good years with Pelias. Damn it. I don’t think I can express how much I want to reroll, but, fine. Diary is lost.
I settle down in a small town in Cisalpine Gaul, just outside of Turin. I begin work on an odd church, and the locals are fascinated by it. They believe the deep cave within it harkens to the Holy Sepulcher. They may be right, but for me its call is older, and darker.
Yeah, he’s basically building a Christian version of the Lupercal from his earliest nights, though even he does not know why. At this point, I begin to think that Lucius might legitimately be mad.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Left Behind, Letter Two


Landon—
I trust that this letter, as well as the previous one, has found its way to you. The war here seems to be on the verge of resolution—at least, the nobles are meeting with the Prince Reginald, and we all pray that the recent madness will be put aside shortly. At least, with things as they are, things seem to be picking up for us common people. The trade ships which were so long delayed for fear of piracy have at last made it to port, and all of Avalon is rejoicing.

Thousand Year Old Vampire. Alone in the Night


Welcome back to the play through of Thousand Year Old Vampire. When we left off, the vampire Lucius was living in relative peace with his lover Pelias in the bustling city of Constantinople, sometime in the 4th Century. Our last event was number 23, and Lucius had become something of a theologian. Let’s see what befalls him now.
I again roll a d10 and a d6 for 10 and a 5. Subtracting the results of the later from the former, I get a 5, which leads us to event 28.
A long dead Mortal Character returns. What do they want from you? How have they survived death? You only recognize them if you still have a related Memory. Check a Skill.
There are two dead Mortals in my past, Manius and Marcus. I roll to see which one has returned and get a 2, for Marcus.
One night, a stranger grabs me on the street, a large, brutish man. He claims to know me, and desperately asks for my aid. He speaks of Rome, the once glorious City, and long nights we spent together there. I do not know him, and I hide myself as a simple Christian scholar. I quote the Bible, and chastise him for his ramblings.
I check Theology and wave the madman off. I used my Theology skill to convince him that I’m not who he thinks I am. I also restore him on the character sheet, since he’s back in my life. Somehow.
Next, I roll a 2 and a 3, for a -1. This leads me to event 27 and:

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Left Behind, Letter One


Landon—

I am certain that this letter, when it arrives to you, will come as something of a shock. When last we spoke we exchanged words which may chairtabily be described as “harsh.” It has been a month since then, and while I certainly recal my vow to never speak with you again, our beloved sister Agatha has entreated me to write to you. If not for our sake, than at least for that of our parents.

Their passing this past winter has not been easy for the family, as I am certain that you are aware. Though, perhaps, you do not feel it so keenly. You were always the favorite, after all, and what little fortune our family possessed was dedicated to you. Your education and prospects always remained prominent in our parents thoughts, to the detremint of the rest of their children. I assume they thought that you would use their gifts to give aid and succor to the remainder, particularly to our sisters. It would appear that they were mistaken in your intentions.

Thousand Year Old Vampire, Scholarly Sojourn


Welcome back to the next part of my playthrough of Thousand Year Old Vampire by Tim Hutchings. In the last post, we left Lucius alone and lost in the wilds of Greece, having fled the city of Rome from the wrath of his ex-lover and newly created spawn, Aurelia. When I started this game, I had absolutely no idea what to expect, but so far it’s been a pretty thrilling ride, even if some of the events are, honestly, pretty upsetting.

At least a couple of decades have gone by, but we’re going to play a little fast and loose with the time here. I’ll narrow it down a bit based on what happens in the next couple of prompts. As a reminder, each prompt has a number associated with it, and Lucius is currently on 10. To determine the next one, I roll a d10 and a d6, and subtract the results of the d6 from the d10. This number is then added to the current count, with negative numbers moving things backwards. This time I roll a 10 and a 4, for 6. Added to the current count, and I’m brought to event 16.

People are hunting you in an organized way. How do you defeat or evade them? Create a Mortal Character related to one of your checked Skills. Check a Skill.

I think I’m actually going to fast forward a few centuries, to around the era of Constantine the Great. The old gods are dying, and the faith of the Christians is becoming more dominant. In their fervor, they are not only smashing temples and idols, but also hunting such creatures as Lucius. Lucius, despite his nature, is not an inherently violent man. Instead, I determine that he will use his Seduction skill to win over the leader of the mob to his side, a monk named Pelias.

The nights seem endless, until a new faith driven by hatred of the old ways arises. They seek to destroy me, but their leader Pelias is a kind and vulnerable man. We have many meetings at night, and I hold him as I once held Aurelia. While she sought to destroy me, his love proves more true and he turns the mob away from me.

For the next prompt, I roll a 5 and a 4, for a 1, leading me to prompt 17.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Thousand Year Old Vampire, The First Nights


Now that my character and his background are complete, I’m ready to start playing Thousand Year Old Vampire. Despite the name, there’s no official “time line” of the game, it could last several thousand years or a few decades. The rules recommend that you link various events and times based on what seems the most appropriate. I imagine the first handful of events will all be linked to Lucius’ first nights as a vampire. I open the book (well, ok, PDF) and go to Event 1 and get the following prompt:

You are overcome by blood frenzy and destroy someone close to you. Kill a Mortal Character, record an Experience about it. Make a Mortal if needed. Take the skill “Bloodthirsty”

I have three major Mortals in Lucius’ life. I’m not sure which would be the best victim for my frenzy, so I decide to roll a die. It could be Manius (1), Aurelia (2), or Marcus (3). I roll a d3 and get 1 for Manius.

I hid in the depths of my cellar, hiding from my friends, my slaves. Myself. The night after my…change, Manius came to me. Demanding I present myself to him, to account for my actions. My failures. He raged at me, calling me foolish, and shortsighted. In a fury I lept at him, and for the first time, drank deep. He was once my master, but now I had a strength he could never possess.

Now it’s time for the next event. This is randomly determined by a two dice rolls, a d10 and a d6. You subtract the d6 from the d10, and add it to your current number. In this case, I roll a (d10) 6 and (d6) 5; 6-5 gets me a 1.  I add this to my current event for a total of 2, which leads me to this prompt:

Horrified at your new nature, you withdraw from society. Where do you hide? How do you feed? Create a stationary Resource which shelters you.

I spent hours with his corpse. My patron’s corpse. My father’s corpse.  I had struck down the man who had raised me up. What if it had been Marcus? Or Aurelia? I couldn’t risk them, so I fled. It was as if the gods were guiding me, and I found myself at the Lupercal, where our divine founders had once been sheltered by their wolf-mother. Deep in the cave I found safety.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Thousand Year Old Vampire AP #1


I recently stumbled across a new Kickstarter, Thousand Year Old Vampire by Tim Hutchings. It’s a solo game in which you chronicle the millennia long story of a vampire, and their struggles to retain the memory of who they were and what they have done. As someone with a bit of a thing for Solo vampire games (like this one, or this one, or this one, or, hell, I really need to finish this one. ), this concept is pretty much the embodiment of why the hell didn’t I think of this combined with of course I’m fucking backing it. 

Seeing that it includes a playtest version of the rules, I pretty much have to try this out. So, I’m starting a new Actual Play. Of course, as I will be using the playtest rules, certain things may differ from the final version.

The game itself is something of a creative writing exercise in many ways. You create your character, as well as the circumstances which lead to your embrace as a vampire. After that, you use dice to determine what events befall your character over time, how these impact your character, and what you lose and gain as time goes by. Memories are the most important element. As the years pass, certain things are forgotten, while others remain fresh. If you are in danger of losing a Memory you can attempt to preserve them in a Diary – a physical item in which you document what has happened, though you no longer truly remember the events and simply trust that you recorded them correctly. Of course, being a physical object, a Diary is at risk of being lost, or destroyed. You also have Skills (things you have or could do), Experiences (individual events which, when combined, form Memories), Resources, Characters (others who are part of your story), and Marks (unique physical characteristics).
That is pretty much it; though more will, naturally, arise during play. So, let’s get started. To begin with,  I need to know who my character is, what his mortal life is like, and what it is that he wants. I don’t have anything in particular in mind, so I turn to Universal NPC Emulator for assistance. Rolling on that, I come up with:

Monday, October 29, 2018

Character Creation, All We Love We Leave Behind

Now that I’ve decided on what game I want to play as part of SGAM 2018, it’s time to start filling in some details for the characters. As my random rolls have left me with a “Standard Fantasy” setting, I’ve decided that I might as well go with the default setting provided with All We Love We Leave Behind, a small town called Avalon. It’s a vibrant trading community, though nothing terribly large or important. The bulk of the details will be answered as the play progresses. Though, a few of these are necessary to get the game started, so I’ll be tackling those in this post.

The first question to answer is, in many ways, the most important. Who is the Absent? Who is it that has left, and why have they left. Like almost everything in AWLWLB, this is determined by a random drawing of a card from a standard deck. So, I do that first. I have a fresh deck that I’ve shuffled quite a few times. Drawing from it I get:

Three of Clubs

Friday, October 26, 2018

Solo Gaming Month, 2018


As November approaches, we are once more coming to “SoloGaming Appreciation Month” (SGAM), an annual event where a bunch of Solo gamers come together to play a game or two with linked elements. Last year was focused on the work of Zach Best and shared Tarot Cards as story inspiration. This year, the theme is a bit more nebulous, “New & Shiny - Play a game or genre that you have never played before,” with a runner up of “Hybrid Game - take a small board game or card game and use it as driver for a solo RPG experience.” So, my challenge for this year is to play a new game or genre.

Unfortunately, every game I own I’ve actually played at some point, in some way, even if it wasn’t as a Solo game. So, I decided to branch a bit further out of my comfort zone and try a truly narrative game, specifically one of the “Letter Writing” genre. For those who aren’t aware, this is a genre of game where you take on the role of a writer, trying to communicate with a distant character. There’s a couple of these, though Quill is, justifiably, the most famous of these. Quill is great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not quite clicking with me right now. So, instead I’m going to try a game that is heavily inspired by Quill, All We Love We Leave Behind by Adam Vass.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

MoMj: The Corruption Saga - Session 20

Boldulf, along with his large wolf - Sergei, tracked his family to edge of a cliff where it appears they shuffled around for a few moments and then jumped off? He couldn't imagine them doing so on purpose, so it must've been some magical force or entity that would've caused this tragedy. In either case, it's now his duty to retrieve their bodies and give them a proper burial. Having explored this area around his home towns enough, Boldulf recalls there being a goat path a few days West that would allow him to get to the shores below. Thus, he heads that way.

Meanwhile, Deirik, Eirik, Ygvard, and Kiro finally reach the top of the goat path and rapidly survey the scene... they moved fast enough, Torvald's forces have not yet made it here. They quickly move away from the path and out further into the patchy forest to the North so they can finally rest and recuperate. Now that they're here, they'll need to work on linking back up with Boldulf and figure out what to do. First, though, they must sleep.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Experiment in GMless roleplaying

Last night, I finally got to play a GMless game. Ever since I started Solo Role-playing, I've been particularly fascinated with this variation of "standard" role-playing.  To put it simply, it's a "group solo" style game, where multiple players come together and use an Oracle rather than a GM to tell a, for lack of a better term, emergent story. It's obviously a bit of an odd duck, but one that is pretty well documented and supported with the base Mythic game. Since I love both traditional roleplaying as well as Solo, this seemed to be an excellent method to combine the two. 

Plus, there's something to be said for an utterly zero-prep style of game. 

Well, I managed to rope in a long-time friend of mine, D. He's been an off and on gamer for years, both as a player and as a GM. He's read along some of my Solo AP's, so it wasn't a completely alien concept to him. He still wasn't sure that he "got" it, but was willing to humor me as we are both between games at the moment.  It ended up being a very fun game, even if it did lean a tad toward the cliche. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

MoMj: The Corruption Saga - Session 19

While giving time for the others to heal up, Eirik, who heals at a supernatural rate (players note: Ironborn Hero Path!), finds some cart tracks that left Kardan in the direction of Svenor and assumes those tracks belonged to the person who lived in the manor house, likely their cousin Kari. Eirik relays this information to the group, and they decide to split up. Deirik, Eirik, Ygvard, and Kiro will head for Svenor. Boldulf and Sergei will stealthily remain near Kardan to observe how Torvald and his troops respond to this incursion and the burnt manor house. Once Boldulf learns all he can, the plan is for him to use his keen tracking abilities to follow the others and meet them near Svenor.

Deirik, Eirik, Ygvard, and Kiro take off to the South, cleverly avoiding a few Shadow patrols along the way. It doesn't take long before Svenor is in sight. This is practically Deirik and Eirik's home town, as this town is located directly above the Cave of Mjarn, their true home. Memories, both bad and good, wash over them as they approach. The town has certainly changed though, and not for the better. The greatest change is the existence of a large, black obsidian Temple of Izrador right in the heart of the town. This temple confirms for the men that Torvald the Betrayer is likely here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Solo Module, Preamble


A new “thing” is going around the Solo Gaming community, the March Module Month or, the Solo-A-Module Month. Basically, a couple of us were all playing modules at the same time (I was playing through B2: Keep on the Borderlands), and suddenly it became a thing. Personally, I blame +Tarcisio Lucas. Anyway, despite time being somewhat tight right now (I won’t forget you, Terry!), it just sounds like too much fun for me to stay away.

So, here’s how I’m going to be handling this game. First off, the focus of this is to play the damn module and the characters. I’ve done something similar before, with my Alien Hunger play-through. But THAT module I knew backwards and forwards, so the focus was on the narrative and the characters actions, more so than on the module itself. This time, I’m going in cold. Secondly, I want to use this as an excuse to try a game system I have never actually played before--Basic Dungeons and Dragons. Specifically, the Mentzer edition of Basic and Expert (they are the ones I have, so don’t @ me, Moldvay/Cook fans).

Thirdly, I want to minimize the “other tools” I bring to this play through. Solo playing a module is a tricky thing. You either need a good sandbox (Like Alien Hunger for Vampire or X1 for D&D) or you need to do something else to make it work. Otherwise, you get stuck on a railroad and it really just comes down to binary “choose your own adventure” decisions (if you’re lucky) and skill checks. But, at the same time, my play through of B2 was a lot of fun, and used only the most basic of oracles. So, for now my plan is to just use the module, the D&D mechanics, and the
CRGE for my game.

Oh, one last thing. Unlike my Vampire playthroughs, I’m really going to try and minimize the narrative/creative writing aspects of this game. I also assume that there is going to be a LOT of combat (it is D&D, after all). Given that, I assume this will be more of a recap, rather than a beat-by-beat game report. Like, when I play Vampire, I am literally posting my rolls on the blog before I even think about what they mean or what might come next.

Ok, enough setup. What module am I going to do?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

MoMj; The Corruption Saga - Session 18

"YOU DID WHAT?!" Lord Krogan's voice resounds through the Shadow Temple as he reacts to the news Deirik relays that he has murdered his cousin Lianna, sister of Torvald the Betrayer.

Eirik, Ygvard, and Boldulf all stand back from the discussion; they're there to support and watch over Deirik, but are not involving themselves otherwise since it's his news to break.

Lord Krogan continues, "I'm sorry, should I have explicitly said not to attack Torvald's family in addition to telling you not to attack Torvald himself? Is that a clarification I should've made?"

Deirik begins to respond, "I just..."

Lord Krogan explodes once again "THAT WAS RHETORICAL!" He then brandishes his symbol of Izrador, "I CALL UPON THE MIGHT OF IZRADOR TO COW THIS BEING INTO SUBMISSION!"

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Heroes Wear Masks/Comic Book Adventures

Comic Book Adventures (CBA) has been on my radar for a bit now. For those who don't know, it's a solo system for playing comic book style superheroes. Which is exactly what I was looking for. However, it's an add on for a game called Heroes Wear Masks (HWM), which I was completely unfamiliar with. So, while I have owned CBA for a while now, it was just the other day that I finally bit the bullet and bought HWM.

Heroes Wear Masks is a Pathfinder-derived game, and is explicitly so. I think, to it's detriment. Not that d20 can't do superheroes (Mutants and Masterminds after all), but because the authors assume you not only are very familiar with Pathfinder, but have a copy of the rules open in front of you. They skip large chunks of key rules (combat, skill resolution, feats) by just pointing to Pathfinder. As such, it's difficult to call HWM a complete game, and exists instead more as someones house-rules.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

MoMj: The Corruption Saga - Session 17

With the snow finally having melted enough to allow travel, Deirik, Eirik, Ygvard, and Boldulf once again set their minds to making progress in achieving their goals. However, there is a setback. Deirik, with his skin being more pale, his canine teeth slightly extended, is concerned that there's something genuinely wrong with him. Ygvard runs some magical tests on him and it doesn't take him long to determine that Deirik is, at least partially, Fell. The Men know they can't hide something like this from Lord Krogan, so they take the matter to him.

Monday, February 26, 2018

A Simple Plan, Scene 5

A Simple Plan

Scene 5

Leah hadn’t known much. Oh, she was willing to talk about everything she did know, which was mainly all the dirt she had on McGuire Woods. She just didn’t know much that I needed. She was another cog in the machine that had played me. But, she had known the cog above her.

Apparently, she had mainly been working with Preston Thurges, one of the senior partners at the firm. If anyone knew what they were after at Vulcan, and for whom, it’s be the good Mr. Thurges.

So, it only makes sense that he had vanished that morning. I’m sure that my visit to Vulcan had nothing to do with the sudden “family emergency” that took him away from the office for the first time in five years.

But men like Thurges don’t just vanish like you and me. They buy plane tickets, rent hotels, make sure people know how to reach them. They leave a trail, and I just had to pick it up. So, I headed over to his house. Something else Leah had known. It’s not my business to know why a paralegal knew the address of a senior partner.

He lived up in Covington Heights; because of course he did.  The partners at my own firm dreamed of having a place up there, where men don’t buy “houses” but “estates.”  And creatures like me are grateful just to be allowed to drive through.

Found his place easily enough. A sprawling architectural monstrosity looming over a hill, looking down on New Canaan. Left the car near the five-car garage. I’d rather have left it on the street, but this place didn’t even have sidewalks, and any car left on the side of the road would attract attention.  Other than a few lights left on to give the impression someone was home, the place was empty. I headed to the back and found the key Leah had told me about, and the code she had given me silenced the beeping alarm.

I suppose law firms were more fun than I had been aware of.


Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Simple Plan, Scene 4

A Simple Plan

Scene 4

Do you have any idea how many “O’leary’s” there are in the greater New Canaan metropolitan area? Five. Five damn places called “O’leary’s” or some variation. So, first I had to figure out which one my “date” would be at come midnight. I felt pretty safe ignoring the seafood restaurant and the “family grill.” It took a while, but I eventually found the one that would be open late, and sounded like a nice, hole in the wall dump. Just the kind of place “Mike” would have liked.

I got there about 11, and tried to keep an eye on the place. Though, to be honest, I didn’t know what I was looking for.  I guess I thought it’d be a stereotypical “tough guy” bar, but there seemed to be a decent mix of people. Professionals still wearing their button-down shirts, college kids, and fans of one team or another--just folks out for a drink.

Not something I ever did, when I was alive. Not that I was against drinking. Guess I just didn’t have a group of friends to go out drinking with. I wonder how things would have turned out if I had.

Anyway, I sat there for about an hour and a half, watching the crowd come and go. I had no idea who I was looking for, so around 12:30 I picked the phone and typed in “hey.” Took about 10 minutes before I got a reply.

“heyy”

“out back”

“?”

“I’m out back.”

“k”

Damn, where they being stubborn or stupid? I needed to get whoever this was out of that bar, somewhere I could see them, somewhere I could talk to them without too much attention. I threw on my jacket and hat, covering myself as best I could and went to the rear of the bar.

“I Need your help with something. Can you come out here?”

“ur fuckin w me


5 mins”

Five minutes was more than enough time for me to find a nice dark shadow and disappear.

The prompt for this scene is

Intimidate or put social pressure on an associate of the foe.

Terry is in a position to, hopefully, surprise and intimidate this associate. But, at this point, we don’t know this person is! So, let’s find out.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

MoMj: The Corruption Saga - Session 16 (Winter)

Deirik, Eirik, Ygvard, and Boldulf, alongside their friends Kiro the hobgoblin and Sergei the (horse-sized) wolf, return to Alucard and report to Lord Krogan what has occurred in Rulla. They also show him the dagger they removed from the well.

Ygvard mentions, "The dagger's hilt is empty, but it must've contained some type of poison or chemical that would not only kill the townspeople, but turn them all into Fell. I don't recognize the substance though."

Deirik quickly interjects, his hatred plain on his face, "I'm sure it's NO COINCIDENCE that this happened in the town just beyond the border you share with Torvald."

Krogan thinks it over for a moment, "I'll need more proof than a shared border to act against Torvald. In the meantime, we need to go clear that town before they spread further and kill more of my people."

With that, the Men of Mjarn accompany Lord Krogan and a large contingent of his orcs and hobgoblins to Rulla to eradicate the Fell menace. It takes little time at all, and, once cleared, the town is picked clean by the Men and the army of any goods of any worth. Afterwards, they all return back to Alucard just in time for Winter to set in.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Simple Plan, Scene 3

A Simple Plan

Scene 3

Mikes car wasn’t anything special. Just a generic sedan, nothing that would look out of place at a typical car rental lot or outside any office building. If you were looking for it, you’d never find it. But, I already had. I knew it was part of a fleet of cars through “Morningside Courier.” I’m not sure what kind of relationship “Mike” had with Morningside. Maybe he was a courier who took a chance at something big. Maybe he was a plant. Maybe the whole thing was a front. The only way I was going to find out is by going there.

But first, I had to get out Vulcan.

Terry snuck in to the quarry in the back of a work truck, so he has no ride out. The simplest thing would be for him to steal one of the workers cars, but what’s “simple” and what is “right” are often at odds. Terry is, fundamentally, a good person, and his Humanity of 7 makes such theft repugnant to him. To see if he carries through with it, he’ll need to roll his Conscience of 4 against a difficulty of 6. On a failure, he’ll attempt to steal one.

Conscience [4] 4,9,3,4 for 1 Success. He considers it, but can’t bring himself to do it.

I now turn to the CRGE

Is Terry able to hop into a conveniently passing truck? 91 Yes, but…

But it takes him pretty far from where he stashed his car. Dawn is coming soon, and he’ll have to rush through the rest of the scene.


I walked out the main gate, still left open to accommodate the late-night staff. Headed down to the nearest stop light and waited. And waited some more. Not a lot of traffic on backroads in the middle of the night. But eventually, a car came by that was what I needed. Actually, a truck came by that was what I needed.

A nice pickup truck, with a mostly empty bed. Seeing it coming, I hit the walkers signal and hid in the shadows. The lights changed and forced the truck to come to a stop, which made it easy for me to jump in the back. The driver saw something out of the corner of his eye, of course, but by the time he was able to twist himself to get a good view of the bed, I was already cloaked in shadows. The driver, my driver now, continued on.

I had left my car at the nearest truck stop, figuring anyone who was out this time of night would go there sooner or later. I was wrong. Guess this guy didn’t need gas, or a hot meal, or anything else. He instead drove off into one of the looping neighborhoods. I suppose he just wanted to get home.

I had to hoof it for a good while before I found another major road, and a semi that was driving down it. Not quite as convenient a ride as the pickup truck, but if carried me to where I needed to be. As if I hadn’t already wasted enough time tonight, my long journey through the outskirts of suburbia made it worse. I should have headed home, did some light feeding, and gone to sleep. But I was frustrated, and annoyed, and I knew I had to get to Morningside while I still could. Maybe the files were there, maybe they were gone. But the more time they had, the more screwed I would be.

So, instead of being smart, I barreled ahead.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Simple Plan, Scene 2

A Simple Plan

Scene 2

I got out of there as fast as I could. No one seemed to be pursuing me, and I'm not sure I blame them. I figure none of them understood what they had just seen, or why they were fighting. But, it’s not like they would just shake it off and think it was a hallucination or anything. They knew someone had been there.

So, I was now screwed two ways. First, I hadn’t been able to get the files I had come here for. Two, they had seen me. Which is the biggest “no no” I can think of. I managed to make a nice mess of things, and I hadn’t even been able to figure anything out. I just wanted to get out there, crawl up back home, and put the night behind me. But as I was walking away—well, ok, creeping away—a thought hit me. What if they call the cops? What if I they had tapes? What if I had managed to screw up the Masquerade?

And then I thought, what if they don’t call the cops? I knew whoever had hired me wanted information on vampires, which means this quarry was somehow tied up with our kind, in a way I couldn’t yet figure out. So, they wouldn’t call the cops. They’d call someone else. And who they called, and what that person did in response, could still be pretty useful. At least more useful than just skulking away.

So, instead of leaving, I decided to stay. I curled up in the nice dark shadow of a dumpster and waited to see what would happen next.

The prompt for this scene is:

Stake out an Actor or Location. Whether or not you win the check, your opponent gains a Victory point due to delay.

As a Nosferatu with Obfuscate, it’s pretty easy for Terry to stakeout a location. So long as he’s in a shadow he is, for all intents and purposes, invisible. But, there’s still the question of him picking the right spot to see, and maybe hear, what he needs to see. So, that will be his challenge for the scene.



Monday, February 12, 2018

A Simple Plan, Scene 1

A Simple Plan

Scene One

See, I wasn’t really sure what they were after, just that I had to get to it before “they” did. And I wasn’t even sure who “they” were, other than the lawyers. But I was sure they were a front, of some sort. Some were involved, probably, but I had no way of knowing who. Not then, at least.

But, whatever, that’s not important. Yet. I had no idea how to get into the Vulcan facility, so I had to hitch a ride on one of their cement truck things. It went pretty well, got me all the way to their quarry. In through the gates, no problem. No one even thought of looking back there. Though, I suppose that’s not surprising. Have you ever been in one of those things? If it was on, or even kind of full, it would kill you.

So, thanks to my brilliant plan, I was inside the gates. Of course, what I hadn’t thought about was that they don’t park the working vehicles near the office. The office gets the sedans and pickup trucks. The construction gears gets parked way on the other side, right by the quarry itself. So, after we parked, I just sat there, probably for a good twenty minutes, freaking out, trying to figure out what’s next.

The place was huge. Like a mile or two across, or something. Lights everywhere. And it’s night, but there’s still people around. Not a lot, sure, but some. So, I’m sitting there, crammed inside this damn mixer, trying to figure out what I’m going to do next. The problem is, I’m decent at
staying hidden, so long as I’m still, but if I move, the jig is up. Given that, just walking across wasn’t an option.

Well, it took me a bit, but I manage to pull myself out of the mixer. Step 1 complete. I figure I can at least look around the garage, maybe find a uniform or something. No luck. I’m stuck with my now ruined suit.

Yes, I wear a suit and tie when I’m working from home. Work is work.

I did find a hard hat, though, so that’s something at least. And then, after a bit more digging, I found a clipboard. Now I’m set. I attached some random pieces of paper to it—receipts, work orders, pretty sure a Chinese menu, whatever I can find. I figure so long as you have a clipboard or a file of folders or something, and you walk like you know what you’re doing, most people won’t look at you twice.

Friday, February 9, 2018

A Simple Plan, Prologue

A Simple Plan

Prologue

Winter was the best time of the year.

When he was alive, Terry despised the winter. It was cold, and dark, and slick with snow and ice and the dirty sludge that covered the city after every storm. But ever since he died, winter had become the only time he felt even somewhat human.

The cold didn’t bother him anymore, and he had seen far worse things than the filthy sludge. Even better, with his hood pulled up and a scarf covering his face, he could actually go out in public, and be around the happy, normal people who still had their lives ahead of them.

He had slowly and carefully made his way to the park. The wounds were still raw, and would take time and blood to heal. But for tonight, there was nothing more he wanted to do than to be around people. They may not speak with him, the cold driving them to move quickly to their destinations. But he could be at least near them, as if he were one of them. And, for now at least, that was enough.

He made his was to an empty bench, and settled on it. From here, he had a view of the frozen lake, and the people skating on it. Families teaching their small children, and tending to their bruises. Friends laughing and joking. Young couples flirting and “accidently” bumping into each other. In the cold and the dark, life played out in front of him.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Session 0 for A Simple Plan

Last time, we created the character of Terry. Now it’s time to figure out what the world has in store for our poor Nosferatu. For this, I’m going to bring in some additional tools, specifically the Storytellers Handbook.
First, I roll for Theme and get a 6, for Pursuit. Rolling on the subtables, I get an 8—“A new witch-hunter has come to town and has managed to find out something about the character.” Huh, guess Terry’s going to have to come to grips with his nature real fast then, won’t he?

I also wanted to make Backgrounds more of an element in the story. Rolling on those tables, I get a 9, for Resources. Rolling on the subtable, I get a 6, which leads to “Unless the character takes prompt action, she will likely suffer a great loss of Resources.” Maybe the hunter is doing the old “follow the money” play book?
I think I have a pretty good setup for a story, but I roll on Scarlet anyways, just to get some inspiration. I roll a 2 and get
An Antagonist seeks to steal something precious to a Target

I’m not sure how that fits with the Witch Hunter element, but let’s see what else we can get.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

New Story, New Character

Getting ready to create the next character for my ongoing Solo vampire game, and I realized that I need to do a little bit more book keeping. I can’t keep calling the city “City” or the Prince “Prince” and the like. Riffing a bit off of the background elements from the first story, I’m going to go with the following.

Chronicle Name: Promised Land

City Name: New Canaan

Location: Fictive. Somewhere north of Boston alone the East Coast of the United States.

Prince: Matthew Parker. A Ventrue (seriously, I rolled a 7 on the Clan Chart). He has ruled for the past 50 some odd years, and tends to have a very “hands off” approach to the affairs of his city. Indeed, his tendency to veer between extreme laxity and harsh crack downs is a major source of complaint for the Elders.

Situation: For decades, New Canaan was racked by constant infighting and conflict, and Princes rose and fell with an alarming regularity. This ended when Parker took sides in the last great war. Upon victory, he ruthlessly purged almost half the vampires in the city, eliminating any and all who had the strength or will to oppose him. Since then, though, he has become an almost disconnected Prince. He allows others to embrace freely, and welcomes almost any outsider who comes to the door.

As such, the city is full of rebels, dreamers, artists, anarchs, refugees, exiles, visionaries, and prophets. All mix uncomfortably in the decaying city, and the Elders (as the “native” Kindred call themselves, regardless of age) struggle just to maintain some semblance of peace. When the Prince does intervene, his wrath is legendary. But, more often, he chooses not to.  And for every new vampire who is permitted into the city, another is lost forever thanks to the constant violence.


With that out of the way, it’s time to focus on our new PC. I know a few things going into this. First, per request, the character will be of the Nosferatu Clan. They are a particularly loathsome breed of vampires, whose appearance is uniformly revolting and horrifying. Secondly, I want the character to be somewhat different from Hanson. If Hanson is the classic pulp “tough as nails” P.I., I want this character to play and act as something else. Not sure what, yet, just not Hanson.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Threat, reassessed

With the A Lonely Hope story having come to a close, I'm thinking about where I want to go next in my Solo journey. I definitely enjoyed the heck out of playing Hanson, but there were some growing pains involved in it. The "Scarlet Rules," as a base line, worked out pretty well I thought. Though I did run into some issues with the Threat element of the mechanics.

Now, these rules are of course taken from Kevin Crawford's Scarlet Heroes, an excelled OSR style game. In those rules, Threat is, roughly, related to the character's level. Well, that may not be entirely accurate, but it's close enough for now--I recommend checking out the book on it's own, as it's really an excellent game in its own right. The point is, for my game, I altered how Threat was determined and utilized, to better reflect Vampire and how its mechanics are implemented.

My changes worked decently, but not wondrously, so I want to tweak them a bit. One of the challenges is that Vampire is not a strict level-based system. And so judging challenges and risks is far more of an art than a science, and is entirely subjective based on the character in question. A bad ass Brujah might dominate in a given fight, but fail miserably trying to convince someone to change sides in a struggle. A highly social Ventrue might have the exact opposite problem.

So, instead of assigning a fixed die pool or difficulty derived from Threat, I've decided to use it as subjective guide compared to the character in question. Threat values will still be determined by 1d10, divided in half.

Threat
NPC Compared to PC
Difficulty changes for fixed values
1
Significantly worse
-2 (Default 4)
2
Slightly worse
-1 (Default 5)
3
Roughly equal
0 (Default 6)
4
Slightly better
+1 (Default 7)
5
Significantly better
+2 (Default 8)

I think this setup is a bit more useful and accurate to the play style that I ended up using. It still allows for extreme danger, as there are times when "Threat +2" comes up as an option in the charts. This at least gives the PC a chance to succeed.

I originally thought of using "2" as the baseline for the levels, with 5 being extremely better than the PC, making for some really intense challenges. But, the +2's still have their place in such cases. Also, in theory this should give each Story it's own flavor--in Story A the Physical Threat is minor, but the Social one is rough, while in Story B it's the Mental Threat that's the real challenge. It's possible that there will be times when the Threat is low across the board, but not every story needs to bring the PC to the point of death, and a less lethal story can still challenge the character morally and personally. Also, in such cases, the minimal experience gained should help balance them against the more extreme stories.

Or, maybe I'll throw the whole thing out and start from scratch. We'll see.  


A Lonely Hope

A Lonely Hope was a Solo Vampire: The Masquerade I played between October 2017 and February 2018. While I have done Vampire games before, A Lonely Hope was a bit of an experiment. For this game, I combined the "urban adventure" rules from the Kevin Crawfords Scarlet Heroes game with Vampire. The result, while rather scatter shot, did end up creating a pretty tense and thrilling pulp-style game.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

A Lonely Hope--Scene 15. Final

Scarlet Vampire

A Lonely Hope

Scene 15

Blaine had pulled the car to the edge of the back alley, and Hanson and Dona quickly made their way to him. As they got closer, Hanson headed to the driver’s seat and Blaine, reluctantly, moved over. Dona hopped got into the back.

“Where are we going?” She asked.

“The Prince is bringing in everyone, wants to settle this once and for all. I know Marko has been questioned, and the Prince is pissed. Not sure if Gypsy has tracked down Adrian yet or not. “

“Adrian? What does he have to do with this?”

Hanson sighed, forgetting how out the loop with everything Dona was. She turned around to face her, and noticed the cops were gone. It was time they got out too.

She threw the car into gear and took off down the road, starting to fill Dona in what had been going down. Blaine kept interrupting with his own color commentary, and the explanations quickly descended into an argument. An argument that was only ended when the read wind shield suddenly exploded!

There were cars behind them, rapidly gaining. They must have discovered the missing Dona sooner than Hanson had anticipated. The Camry whined and skidded as Hanson threw it into a turn and slammed the accelerator.

“Jesus, you’re going to get us killed. Let’s just pull over and let them come to us. We can take a bunch of mortals,” Blaine said, confidently holding Hanson’s shotgun.

“I’m not worried about them. Cora was there. She’s what I’m worried about.”

“Cora?” Blaine looked back, an awareness of his own mortality creeping into his dead heart.

Hanson sped on through the rain soaked night.


Random Scene Challenges for Vampire

I recently got a copy of the 5th Edition of Vampire: The Masquerade. One of its elements that stood out to me was a narrative approach to ...