Welcome to the Jungle

Following on from our previous session our heroes have found themselves on an unknown island in the Southern Hemisphere. Having investigated a temple and nearly seeing off Brother Damphire in a strange fountain they decided to head out looking for civilization.

During this journey they finally discovered Damphire’s secret, he is a Cambrian (of course we already knew that). Now something I had forgotten about Cambrians is their ability to plane shift, thankfully one of players hadn’t.

So that is where we left it last week, we have a new player starting and I’ve created a Character Sheet for them as we are potentially looking at switching system, and we will be switching DM soon as well.

Next Session?

What are my plans for this weeks session then. My prep time has decreased further as I’m back studying with the Open University so I have fewer hours free.

But I’ve always been keen on Raymond E Feists books on Midkemia, and especially the ideas of a multiverse. So with that in mind I think our hapless team should travel briefly between worlds, where they will meet our new player, lost and confused.

Additionally as we are losing a player too I want to start to wrap some things up for him, his character is partly searching for his lost father.  It may be that he’s about to find him.

 

Image Courtesy of ElectroFervor https://flic.kr/p/3MThKD

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Review: Import/Export

I never planned for this blog to carry reviews, partly because I don’t often get to play a game soon after release. However this weekend I got chance to play Import/Export at my club http://dicedtea.club.

This review is written with only one play, however I have played Glory to Rome a lot and I feel that gives me a good insight into this game.

Overview

Import Export is a game of chartering container ships, putting containers on them and sending them out to sea, meanwhile you and other players are also trying to sell containers off other ships (both yours and other players) and also pirating containers too.

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Mechanisms

If you have ever played Glory to Rome you will find the action mechanisms very familiar, the first player marker moves around the table and that player has two choices, they can take cards from a deck or they can play a card from their hand and (shortly after) perform an action. If they do the first the turn is over and play continues to the next player. However if they play a card then the other players can chose to also play a card from their hand to do the same action.

The actions to chose from are as follows

  • Contract a ship
  • Load a container
  • Import a container
  • Pirate a container
  • Supply from the dock

I won’t go into too much detail on how these actions work, as I’d simply be repeating the rule book.

The theme of the game works incredibly well with the actions you are given, When you contract a ship you can slowly start to load it with cards (all of which have containers of various types on, with different goods and different types of good as well). When your ship is full of the required types of good (all indicated on the card you contracted) it heads out to sea where it becomes available to actions made by the other players.

By Importing a container you can take cards from any ship at sea, placing them in your tableau as either additional actions for future turns, or as goods for end of game scoring. Alternatively you could chose to pirate a container taking a container from a ship at sea and placing it on one of your contracted ships.

Finally, in the center of the table is an area called the dock, this is contains a small number of cards that come out throughout the game which can be used in various ways.

Gameplay

To anyone who has played Glory to Rome they will pick this up very quickly.  If you haven’t had the pleasure then it isn’t going to be too difficult to pick up the basics, although it may take you a few games to figure out the flow.
The card play is reasonably elegant, the ebb and flow of cards from your hand, to the table and then into your tableau is nice.

All the containers also contain game breaking text that allows either one time/continual powers and these on our initial play looked very interesting.  Although most of us only managed to get 3 or 4 of these out during the game.  There were plenty of cards in the deck so much variety to be had from the different possibilities.

There is also a system of tiers which mean you have to ramp up before you can start certain contracts, this did feel a bit clunky at first, but after a while you got used to it.

Component Quality

The card stock was excellent, the art is really nice with plenty of little additional touches on the different containers.
I really liked the art style and fonts used, although in some places it was difficult to see some things at a glance.  The kickstarter version also comes with some cool looking container ship mini’s.

Final Thoughts?

Well I’ve pre-ordered this for Essen so that’s how much I liked it!

I felt it was definitely different enough from Glory to Rome to justify having both in my collection.  If you can’t get Glory to Rome then this will fill that gap for you.

I have slight concerns over the speed with which cards get played into your contracts, I can’t see this game having the crazy combo’s that reveal themselves in GtR, which is a shame.

Images ©Jordan Draper – https://boardgamegeek.com/user/Jordan%20Draper

 

Essen Spiel: Part 2

With two weeks to go before Essen Spiel I’ve been keeping track of all the games I’m interested in. I’ve also pre-ordered some for collection.

What do we want?

First up I’ve selected Tokyo Highway, a cute looking little game about building a road system in Tokyo, using cylinders, lolly pop sticks and tiny little cars. To be honest other than that I’ve not really checked out the game play, but it’s been getting some quiet buzz in places I like. And it looks cute!

Next up is Lagerstätten, my friends will make fun of me for buying another beige game. This one is about digging up fossils and rock samples!

The final pre-order (so far) is Gaia Project, or Terra Mystica in Space, as I mentioned in my previous post.

I’m also now keeping my eye on Tulip Bubble, Agra, Calimacha and Altiplana.

The joke amongst my friends is that I like my boardgames grey and heavy and my RPG’s Thematic. There is probably a thesis in this somewhere.

Tokyo Highway Image Courtesy of https://boardgamegeek.com/user/chunb

Finally! The party have come (back) to Cebryg!

Well, actually not quite. They’ve never been to Cebryg before, but I can’t resist a catchy title.

If you remember our last session ended with the doughty Grey Band seeing off a horde of Living Scarecrows Vegetable Men (their term not mine!). So they made the final leg of their outward journey to Cebryg at the start of this session. As you can see in my post Constructing Cebryg you can get an idea of the make-up of the town.

I decided to use this town to polish my NPC skills, I’ve found that the players seem to take a dislike to my NPC’s something they always put down to my characters seeming hostile. So this time I made a conscious decision to have all the inhabitants of the village be nice, with no evil ulterior motives.

To the INN!

Of course, the first thing they do is head to the Inn. And with what is a growing bad habit, they decide to go carousing, we have graduated from the 5E carousing table to THIS, a d100 table of excellent outcomes. They all give me a roll, I’ll note down their numbers and we work through the list. Some outcomes are amusing, some potentially less so, some give me fun ideas for side quests, or even full blown ideas. So what happened to our heroes in their drunken fervours?

  1. Bale ends up in chains in his room, with Grog’s wife lying on the floor beside him.
  2. Axel has been appointed as the Local Cheese Superintendent, a position which comes with an excellent hat, in the shape of a cheese.
  3. Varun wakes up with a stray dog licking his toes, the dog appears to have adopted him.
  4. Grog, our barbarian, appears in a hut out of town, his feet (and legs) transformed into those of a chicken.

I may have mentioned previously how much I enjoy a random table. I know they aren’t to everyone’s taste, but they give me some fun ideas. And the players enjoy them, most of the time, too.

Anyway, following their diversions they got themselves sorted and headed up to see Brother Damphire, the leader of the abbey on the hill. The confronted him with his tardiness and he broke down and confesses to becoming obsessed with a scroll and time running away from him. They persuaded him to return to Thrallstadt to explain himself, and bring the scroll, to the Mother Temple. The players decided it would be sensible to use some ‘magic stones’ that I gave them to teleport them back to Thrallstadt, which gave me some ideas as to what might happen next.

As a Lazy DM I don’t like to prepare too far ahead, and riffing off what the players decide to do is even more fun. So when they make a decision like using the stones to transport themselves, rather than the fine horses they borrowed, it really allows me to let things happen to them.

Brother Damphire then uses the stones to transport them to a jungle in the Southern Hemisphere. The stones then ran out of charge.

So our players have found themselves in a ruined temple with glowing blue text on all the walls and water running through channels throughout the buildings. Most of this was drawn up on the fly, life as always gets in the way of hardcore prep. But I had been thinking about what might happen throughout the weeks.

Oh Grogs chicken feet have cleared up, but he does now have feathers sprouting from his back….

Fantasy Wimmin Soldiers

“There are women in the army?…”

As I sit here at doing my humdrum workaday job on pops a song on the radio which pings my brain into life of something which occurred at the table the other week.

As you may recall our hapless heroes wandered into a massive military camp.  I decided, because why not, whilst describing their surroundings to tell them one of the soldiers was female.  Their reaction was interesting, they double checked that there were women in the army.  I said yes, I saw it sinking into their heads, and they accepted it and carried on.

Now I know this isn’t the most exciting story in the world, but it did bring some thoughts to my mind.

I am not playing this game to push boundaries, gaming to me is about enjoying my free time not confronting my players with alternative world views. Sure if other folk want to play RPGs like that it is their call, as long as their players are also open to it.

What struck me was that despite us creating the world together they had assumed that our standard worldly tropes would carry over to this one. But why wouldn’t they? We create these homebrew worlds in our own image, accentuating the bits we find interesting, and ignoring the parts we don’t. For instance in our world there are very few ‘eastern’ influences, and no fighting monks as a class.

What, if anything, would it be interesting for me to do that helps add character to our world that is unexpected to the players?

Attributions

Header courtesy of Neville Wooton https://flic.kr/p/ShVoJ5

Constructing Cebryg

So with our adventurers heading to Cebryg it would be useful to populate the town with interesting NPCs and useful places. Ive not started to draw the town out yet, but here follows a description of how I see it.

Abbey with Town..

Cebryg is located to the south of a smallish mountain range, more immediately there is a abbey located to it’s north positioned on a outcropping approachable by a winding cliff side roadway. Other access to the abbey would be potentially difficult but not impossible.

The town itself is reasonably wealthy, the population generally provide services needed by the Abbey above. Primarily there is a papermill and dye maker in town.

The Town of Cebryg is friendly, none of the NPC’s are antagonistic to the party (I have difficulty getting the playesr to like my NPC’s so this is an experiment for me)

Town NPCs

Griselda – Book-Sellers Mother

In Cebdock our hero’s met a bookseller who provided them with a map to Cebryg, he also gave them a book to deliver to his mother.
Griselda is a reasonably powerful hedge-witch who is the real ‘power’ in Cebryg.  She protects the town generally, however recently she has had to do this more often.
She is in her 70’s, but looks hearty and younger than that.  She is quick with a smile and a slightly ribald joke.

Comte D’armand – Town Clerk/Local Noble

The Comte is the empires factor in the area, he is responsible for tax income, local law enforcement and other sundries as designated by the empire.
He is a jovial round figure, well loved by the local population.  He is also open to bribery and corruption, in a low level way, to grease the wheels of his bureaucracy.

Arthunde – Innkeeper

Half blind, with a nasty scar down his face, Arthunde is as solid as they come.  He would do anything for his fellow townsfolk, Cebryg is the most important town in his world.

Katrye – Papersmith

Late 20’s Early 30’s, Katrye is an expert paper maker.  She supplies the abbey above with all the paper it requires.  She is bold and outspoken, and respected by the village elders as sensible.
She cares deeply about Brother Damphire and is more and more concerned about his recently introversion.

Abbey NPC’s

Brother Damphire

A Cambrian, disguised as a human.  He has found a scroll that has distracted him from all his duties to the point where the mother church have sent the PC’s out to find out whey they haven’t heard from him.
He is (currently) rotund, and friendly (even as a Cambrian).

As I write some of this I have already run this session.  Alas due to my idiocy I didn’t have these notes to hand.  Check out the session report for what actually happened.

Blogging is HARD!

Well who would’ve thunk it! Thinking of things to write about constantly is difficult. I’ve got a number of posts mid consciousness stream that just aren’t ready.

My plan was to at least post once a week and already I’ve fallen by that wayside. Partly to blame is just being busy, and mostly to blame is being lazy. Sorry I’ll try harder.

Image Courtesy of ElectroFervor https://flic.kr/p/3MThKD

CONSTANTINOPLE, at last!

What I expect to be our penultimate session of “The Blood Red Fez” occurred over the weekend, although we were a player down.

Our hapless investigators went up against another Fez Monster, as I’ve mentioned before I’m a new CoC keeper and I’ve just discovered one of my failings, I’m struggling to kill my players.  I think part of my reluctance is due to the fact that in the circumstances it would have been a TPK, which would have been naff storywise.  So to resolve this, and because next session will (likely) be the final one for this mini-campaign, I’m going to make sure I force myself over this hurdle.

Anyway, they defeated the Fez Monster, retrieved the book and arrived in Constantinople.  Following their visit to the professor and his children they decide to try and trick the cultists into thinking they had booked to leave the city, and sent the the professors other children to a hostage exchange for his son.  As you can probably predict, Menkaph knew the book wasn’t real and reacted accordingly.

So for our next session they will be planning on the final assault on the cult, they will finally be armed with the knowledge of what the Fez does.

I’ll admit, I’m looking forward to getting into the story proper, I’ve not really loved the Blood Red Fez, it has felt very railroady and a lot of the scenario has felt unnecessary.  The final night on the train, for instance, was supposed to be a major attack by Menkaph and his thugs, I believe this would have lead to a TPK, so I omitted this.
I know HotOE is both literally and metaphorically a railroad adventure, but this felt a touch too much.  I think also my prepping had mostly been for the 1920’s, and I wasn’t fully prepped for a gaslight game.

Having said this, I get the impression the players are enjoying themselves, which is the main thing.

 

Image Courtesy of A_E_P – https://flic.kr/p/5GC7jG

Accidental Magic

“Sneak up on the Emperor!”

Our session last week was more interlude as our doughty heroes continued trying to get to their next location. We had left them befriending a company of soldiers at a large combined army encampment. Well one thing lead to another and they introduced themselves to the Emperor, instead of telling him who they really were they decided to bluff out of the situation. Now what follows is a perfect example of how you can never truly prepare for what Players will do at any given moment.

Our assassin sailor decides to tell the emperor he is a magician, which in our world with no magic is essentially admitting to being Paul Daniels, the emperor wants to see a trick so our assassin-sailor randomly selects an item from the party loot.

Magic Stones…but actually magic!

The party had received these stones from a temple to act as a portal back to them following an earlier mission. My players being the forgetful beasts they are didn’t remember this of course. He shows off with these stones, which circle to create a portal back to the temple, Bale (for that is his name) pops his hand through and it disappears. The emperor is suitably impressed. Then another hand comes through, this time it belonged to their benefactor at the temple, alas I told them they recognised it, then they tell me they were going to cut it off! Shame, that would have been funny.

Following this magical interlude, which gave me a way to introduce them to the emperor, and they managed to make him happy too! They carried on towards their goal, en route running into a group of scarecrow like fiends. They also made a thorough note of a ruined town which they are going to attempt to purchase at the soonest possibility. I’m not entirely sure if I’m running an RPG on Atlas Shrugged at times, they are really quite mercenary.

What next?

Well hopefully they will reach their destination.

  1. They have a package to deliver in town to a map-makers mother.
    • I would like to maybe make her a good witch potentially, giving them some boon for delivering this book.
    • In fact I may make her the town record keeper, she will be able to assist them in finding out who owns the land with the ruined building on.
  2. They want to find out some land ownership records, I’ve insinuated that they might find these at the town records in Cebryg.
  3. Following their small run in with the scarecrow fiends they witnessed the ‘souls’ of the creatures drift off in an unnatural way, down Lake Nemi.
    • Now if you recognise the name Lake Nemi, that is because there is a Nemi south of Rome. It features in the Golden Bough by Frazer and I may do a short blog on some interesting uses for it. If you are a Call of Cthulhu player you will know the book as in the list of Mythos Books, although it doesn’t give you any ill effects reading it, aside from a poor grasp of Anthropology.
  4. They still have to visit the abbey which hasn’t contacted the mother temple for ages.
  5. I’m feeling this is a bit of a red herring to be honest, my plans for what to do at this point keep changing. Currently I’m leaning towards the leader of the Abbey becoming withdrawn following the discovery of a book that he is desperate to interpret. I think this is potentially the most interesting option, with the side benefit that the guy is not human and hiding that from those around him.

I’d love to hear what you might do next in this situation

 

 

Image Courtesy of ElectroFervor https://flic.kr/p/3MThKD

World Building

Our World

In our DnD game we have decided to create our own homebrew world rather than run in the Forgotten Realms.

We have created a framework of demographics and ideas that we like and don’t like, we did this using Microscope, an RPG which whilst not designed for world building it really makes it easy to create something quickly but with plenty of depth.  For instance our world is coming back into magic following centuries where it had disappeared.  In the vacuum left by this disappearance priest have created hugely powerful priesthoods, operating out of a vast central city called Thrallstadt.

Aside from our initial Microscope session the majority of the mapping and physical world building has fallen to me, not that i mind, I’ve enjoyed learning to create maps and with that learning how to use photoshop. Every now and again I’ll bring in the current version and we as a group will go over it and decide on more content.

The beauty of this vast blank canvas is that anything can happen.  We have created a few creation myths, and massive world events.  We have also created smaller events that can be tied into storylines.

Resources

http://www.lamemage.com/microscope/
http://www.fantasticmaps.com/

Attributions

Header courtesy of Neville Wooton https://flic.kr/p/ShVoJ5