Fate of the Five - Shake up in Asylum

Things have changed quite a bit in our Shadow of the Demon Lord campaign.

Session review

When we last left our... protagonists, they were trapped down in the bottom of the ancient shrine just outside Asylum. Krunk and Shart busted their way into the blocked off altar room to come to the rescue, only to have Azeeze mistakenly shoot Krunk. Not wasting any time, Krunk knocked the centaur out.

Azeeze's player was out of town for this session, so this was a good way to remove him from the game for the night. Not totally believable, but it is much better than what I usually go for.

They combed through the rest of the shrine, finding some helpful items, but no bloody bones. The most interesting thing they came upon was a Feeding Cube. This faerie relic was a 3' cube of regenerating meat. Much discussion was had about what to do with such a bountiful treasure as they ate suspicious steaks cut from the cube. Light of the Feather did not wish to destroy Asylum's economy by introducing a never ending food source, and it was decided they would keep it hidden away for the time being. Krunk carved it apart so it was just a seed of meat and placed it in her backpack.

I wasn't expecting much of anything from the meat cube. My players got really interested in it, and the implications of it. I just sat back and listened to them argue over it for a good 15 minutes or so. Sometimes, being a GM is pretty easy.

On their way back to town they discovered the skinned corpse of Saul, the head guardsman. It was clear he was yet another victim of the bloody bones. Krunk wanted to charge off after the beast, but Aeryn was adamant about bringing Saul back for a proper burial.

The following day it was discovered that Chert's lab had been invaded, and the saltwater decanter had been stolen. Aeryn's widow didn't show up to the inn like she did every morning. These two events converged at the magistrate's house. Rather than confronting the man immediately, the group opted to head out after the bloody bones. They tracked the creature down and quickly dispatched it.

Good rolls and an extra level will do some really gnarly things to foes that used to be challenging.

The group carried the bloody bones' head back to the Magistrate's office in order to collect the reward for it. Aeryn opted to head to the inn to talk with Adele a bit more. Just as they were about to collect their money Krunk decided it would be a good time to kill Jaren, the man she'd been hired to assassinate. Unfortunately for her, Jaren always had a host of tiny demons traveling with him. One of the creatures blocked her strike, but was killed. The office soon became a scene of utter chaos.

Light of the Feather produced a flamethrower and lit Krunk and Jaren up, also igniting the book shelves lining the wall. The sudden flames blew out the windows, alerting Aeryn that something was up.

This was a bit of GM magic. Aeryn was not in the scene, but it would have been a real downer to have him miss it. Having the fire blow out the windows of the office seemed like a really good way to pull him over. It also introduced a nasty complication in which everyone would need to make a Strength check to avoid taking damage at the start of their turns. This check got harder as the rounds went by, but the fight only lasted three or four rounds. 
(c) 2016 Schwalb Entertainment, LLC

(c) 2016 Schwalb Entertainment, LLC

Aeryn managed to get to the Magistrate's office in time to deliver the killing blow. Jaren pleaded for his life, dangling the life of Aeryn's widow in front of him. Aeryn was consumed with revenge and sliced Jaren's head clean off.

I was very pleased with this outcome. I thought Jaren might live through this, but Aeryn was not having it.

After Jaren was killed they captured his associate, Adele. She informed them that Aeryn's wife and son were being transported to High Watch and their plan to summon Valagius the Executioner could not be stopped. Aeryn killed her too.

Aeryn is up to 3 Corruption at this point. It's starting to carry some consequence with it now.

Things to remember

  • All of the NPCs of note in Asylum are dead now.
  • Aeryn fulfilled his revenge. Will he still be motivated to continue living?
  • Nebog and Nedlog are transporting Aeryn's family to High Watch.

Fate of the Five - Changing of the Guard

This was the third session of the Shadow of the Demon Lord campaign. Once again, we have had a major shake up. New people have arrived, old friends have left, and an enemy has shown his face.

Session review

We picked up in the beastman camp. Shart and Krunk opted to head back to town, as they were not feeling quite themselves after nearly dying to the bloody bones. Azeeze, Chert, and Aeyrn were not to be dissuaded and they pushed on. They picked the trail of the bloody bones up and followed it to an ancient abandoned shrine in the woods. Within there was a pit, at the bottom of which was a pool of water. Azeeze had the bright idea to throw a rock into the water, after which a chainbound rose up from under the surface and attempted to eat said rock. This allowed the party to strategize and come up with a good plan to deal with the massive animated corpse. Chert armored up and marched down to the water. Another rock was thrown in which got the chainbound to rise up again. At that moment Chert dropped his armor and blasted the creature with a massive blast of earthen energy. The chainbound was grievously injured and struck out at the gnome, killing him instantly.

Troy had a great idea. He used a spell of his to charge up and deal 9d6 damage to the chainbound for 34 points of damage. The creature wasn't killed, and hit back for 16 points of damage. Since that exceeded Chert's health that meant he was instantly killed. It was rather exciting.
The gnome formerly known as Chert. Image courtesy of Troy Pichelman

The gnome formerly known as Chert. Image courtesy of Troy Pichelman

Azeeze and Aeryn were distraught seeing their friend killed in such a manner. They tried to take down the chainbound, but it proved to powerful and they were forced to retreat. Azeeze had suffered nearly debilitating wounds attempting to get Chert's body back from the undead creature, and needed to rest. They got back to Asylum and Azeeze promptly retired to his house and stayed put for a couple of days.

While in town, Aeryn spoke with Saul, the head guardsman. He informed them of the happenings at the shrine, and volunteered to help them set watch after he rested. Unfortunately, his brother had dispatched a pair of harvester assassins to take him out. Nebog and Nedlog had a lot of issues trying to take Aeryn out, as the crafty revenant was able to charm Nebog. Eventually, they killed him and threw him out into the alley. Being a revenant, Aeryn was back up a few hours later, although he was a bit crazier.

I had considered sending just one of the brothers in to deal with Aeryn. I'm glad there were two. He put up a good fight, but once the two were after him the fight was over quickly. This was just another step in getting Jaren to be more annoying.

We fast forwarded a bit at this point. Azeeze had slept off his injuries and was back out and ready to help the town. Aeyrn was hiding in the woods outside of town, licking his wounds and getting ready to go after Jaren. As Azeeze headed out of town with the watchmen and the magistrate's (Jaren's) personal guards he was joined by the elf Light of the Feather.

Light of the Feather was Troy's new character. An elf who had befriended Aeryn long ago and was tracking him down.

With the magistrate unprotected, Jaren was thinking he'd be able to waltz right in and kill him. Jaren was prepared for this situation. After the initial spell from Aeryn, Jaren was able to dominate him and send him out with a compulsion to retrieve chaos shards from the sunken shrine. Aeyrn caught up with the group and they were back to the shrine.

The group, reinforced with watchmen and guards, made short work of the chainbound and animated corpses. They explored the ruins, encountering some horrific stuff. The watchmen fled in terror after seeing the image of an elf woman rip her eyes out. The guardsmen went down after a living statue crushed their heads. Eventually they found a dish of chaos shards. As they were fighting their way in the bloody bones ambushed them once again. After killing one off they barricaded the door and hunkered down.

(c) 2016 Schwalb Entertainment, LLC

(c) 2016 Schwalb Entertainment, LLC

Honestly, the bloody bones have been the biggest villains in the campaign so far.

After holding up for the better part of a day, they were ready to get back out and track the last bloody bones down. Just as they were about to head out, the door started banging on its hinges. Aeryn flung the door open and Azeeze let fly a bolt from his crossbow right into Krunk's chest.

Things to remember

  • Chert is dead, what happened to his lab?
  • Krunk just got shot in the chest for 6 damage.
  • Aeryn has been gone longer than his compulsion would have lasted.

World Wide Wrestling RPG One Shot

We're between campaigns in my other gaming group, Tuesday Night Gaming. Whenever this comes up we will fill a couple of sessions with GM-less games like Fiasco, or other players will run a one or two session game. This time around I was able to run the World Wide Wrestling RPG by Nathan D. Paoletta. I'm not a huge wrestling fan, but I do think it's great. I remember watching Hulk Hogan, Mr. Perfect, Ultimate Warrior, Macho Man, Honkey Tonk Man, and dozens of others that I'm forgetting about back when I was a kid. Throw goofy wrestling in with a game running on Apocalypse World and I was instantly interested in running the game.

Character creation was a blast. Everyone dove right in and started coming up with some interesting characters for their gimmicks. The character creation process that Apocalypse World has is probably my favorite of any system I've played. It's quick and straight forward, and it generates characters that are intertwined with each other in interesting ways.

The wrestlers

Cold Snap, played by Troy, was the up and coming wrestler. He had a style very similar to Johnny Hades, and that was rubbing the veteran the wrong way.

Naked Jake, run by Jordan, was a coked up former stripper who was making everyone angry. His behind the scenes substance abuse, and complete lack of desire to do something about it, had gotten management to a point where they wanted him out. He wasn't pleased with Cold Snap, and couldn't even remember his former tag team partner "World Class" Jimmy Buffet.

Johnny Hades, Greg's wrestler, was the veteran on the scene. His style was more dignified and solemn, think Undertaker with lots of fire and brimstone, than what Cold Snap was doing. That dignity is something that would push him to make things worse for himself.

Whatever, Jim's emo anti-hero, was an odd one. He was Johnny Hades mentee, but he wanted out of the relationship. His finisher, The Dark Passenger, was an edgy update to the tameness that wrestling had experienced recently. His desire to get out of his deal with Hades would cause some issues.

"World Class" Jimmy Buffet, Roger's jobber, looked like a washed up fat ass. However, he was probably the most technically proficient wrestler around. Management would put him into matches just to make their pushes look better. He was good at it.

Quick summary

After character creation, I put together the booking for the night. I wanted to start with a quick match, so I had Cold Snap take on Jimmy Buffet. We got warmed up to the system with this one, and things went pretty smoothly. The game progressed pretty well. The tag team match between Black Sabbath, Cold Snap and Whatever's team, and the Asskickers introduced us to some new moves.

Things went insane when Naked Jake was matched against Jimmy Buffet. As Creative, I liked the idea of Naked getting sidelined as one of the major story lines. We had a couple of between match scenes that were designed to make Naked look bad. As the Wasted gimmick, Jordan kept ratcheting up his antics. This became a fun little game as the whole table would give him a thumbs up or down to indicate if his move was sufficiently insane to get his gimmick's bonus on them. Just when things were looking like Naked was going to take Buffet out I let them know Buffet was booked to win. Obviously, Naked hit with his finishing move and overturned the planned booking and won it. It was a great moment.

I was thinking the final match, between Cold Snap and Hades, would be a good setup for a major event that would happen in another session. In that later session, Cold Snap would be back for revenge, ready to bury the old man and take his place. However, Hades had gone to management after Naked's match and pleaded with them to respect the business and wash the coke-head out. The roll was botched, much momentum was spent, but even after all that the booking was changed behind the scenes. Hades was going to lose his match.

The match, however, didn't progress very far. Cold Snap had control of things, and was working Hades when Naked Jake bungee jumped into the ring in order to get back at Cold Snap for running in on him in the previous match. Before I knew it, all of the wrestlers were in the ring yelling and punching each other. The only logical thing to do here was to make it an official Regal Wrangle. The fracas concluded when Whatever pulled a heel move and eliminated Cold Snap to win from out of nowhere.

Impressions

Overall, I had a ton of fun with this game. Character creation was a blast, and really got everyone into the spirit. Running the matches was a breeze. If necessary, I'd prompt and push the player to narrate to an exciting moment when it would make sense to make a move. Sticking a microphone in someone's hands to take the role of the announcer was hit and miss. Often, the announcer would sit back and let the narration play out, which was just fine. The matches were exciting, and wrapped up pretty well. There is a chance that we might run this game again for a short campaign, and I'm definitely pulling it out for one shots in the future.

One thing that I'm really hoping to see come out of this is more creativity in combat with other games. I'm thinking that this sort of thing could work in a system that grants bonuses for various reasons. How would something like this apply to Shadow of the Demon Lord, which I'm currently running?

Standard combat

GM: The excrement demon starts chanting!

Player 1: I hit it. I rolled a 10 to hit.

GM: That misses.

Without any reason to think creatively why put the effort into it? Sure, there's responsibility on my end to make the encounter dynamic and encourage the players to take advantage of it, but if you're used to just hitting stuff then that's what you'll do.

Rewarding combat

GM: Dust puffs as the excrement demon rises from the dried up sandy fountain basin. It begins chanting and gesturing.

Player 1: All right, I'm going in after it. As I approach the demon can I try and kick sand up in its face to throw it off as I try to stab it?

GM: Yeah, awesome, add a boon to your attack.

Player 1: I rolled a 10.

GM: That'll miss, the demon isn't distracted by the sand you kicked at it and dodges out of the way.

It's a bit more interesting. The big difference here, as I see it, isn't the player being creative. The big difference for me is the GM handing out an incentive for being creative. Give the player a boon for using the environment, but also give the player the environment to work with.

Wrap up

World Wide Wrestling has got me thinking about my other games, and that's a good thing. I can't wait to bring it to the table again, and I think I'll put together a kit I can pull out at a moment's notice. Gen Con is in just a couple of weeks, so I might as well be prepared.

© 2016 Nathan D. Paoletta/ndpdesign

© 2016 Nathan D. Paoletta/ndpdesign

Fate of the Five - Bloody Bloody Bones

The second session of our Shadow of the Demon Lord campaign has finished. Things have changed, people have shown up. Who knows how this stuff will play out.

Session 0 wrap up

The group had gotten down into the ruins below Asylum in the last session. We'd gotten a little ways into it, but had to end before getting through the whole thing. We had done character creation in the first session, so we were behind about 45 minutes. I was hoping to finish up the rest of the stuff down there in an hour or less. I used A Year Without Rain as the base for this session.

Shart proved useful as he expertly discovered a trap in the hall, which everyone was able to easily avoid. I trimmed a couple of encounters and went straight for the musical ghoul. It was a pretty great build up as the characters seemed rather confused by a ghoul playing terrible music for them. It didn't last very long, as Azeeze very quickly pulled his bow out and shot the poor creature. He just wanted to entertain, you stupid horse!

This seemed like a good time to have the Laugher show up. The fight was tough and brutal. Krunk was taken out twice, and Azeeze went down once as well. Things got close for them, but Fortune and some favorable dice kept them alive. Chert found a fancy orb to help him with his technomancy, and Shart picked up a decanter of never ending salt water.

Once the business from the first session was finished we skipped ahead in time. Rain came to Asylum, and eventually the magistrate did as well.

Session review

During the interlude, the group became rather loved in the town. They brought the rain back, and things were turning around for Asylum. Chert spent his time working with the orb and adapting it to help him with his magic experiments. Shart went about robbing things from the town, and manged to stay undetected. Aeryn kept an eye on his wife as she showed up every morning to collect food for the day from Adele at the Weary Traveler. He even spent his last coppers to get some chocolate dipped strawberries in her care package. Krunk found a job mucking pig slop for Margo in order to keep her cover for being in town. Azeeze pondered how well his business would do now that the crops were back.

Finally, the magistrate returned to town. This is going to be interesting. He was informed that the group had brought the rain back and he promptly invited them to dinner. Aeryn avoided him, as the magistrate would be sure to recognize his dead brother, and left a note for him asking him to meet in a secluded spot late at night. The dinner went well, though Shart did steal a geode from the magistrate's son. Chert made him happy by molding a bunch of stones into a toy sword. Jaren, the magistrate, was a gracious and generous host.

The following day, Margo was panicked when Krunk arrived at his farm for work. His pigs had been skinned and left to die in the barn. Krunk sent Margo to fetch the rest of the heroes of Asylum while she tried to track down the perpetrators. During her searching, she was attacked by a pair of bloody bones. Fortunately, Shart had been tailing her and he came to her aid. Unfortunately, the bloody bones were ferocious and too formidable. Krunk and Shart were knocked out.

Aeryn, Azeeze, and Chert arrived at the farm and heard a wet ripping sound coming from the fields. Concerned that they couldn't see Krunk, Azeeze pulled Chert up and the two of them charged into the field. When they got there, they found one of the bloody bones peeling the skin off Krunk's arm. Part of her face had been peeled off and was now pasted to the creature's shoulder. The two of them managed to scare the beast off, then tended to Krunk. With a little ingenuity, Chert fashioned a stone mask for Krunk to seal the wounds.

Krunk and Shart probably should have died here, but I was going for momentum here. The bloody bones would have run if they got outnumbered, but they were tough and took the two PCs out really quickly. The aftermath here felt much more fun than the two of them dying.

The group rested up for a couple of days, and the bloody bones had been sufficiently frightened off that they didn't claim any other victims. Once everyone was better, they headed off into the woods. The path was more difficult to follow, but Azeeze was up to the task. Eventually they ran into a camp of beastmen, but a clever ambush split the creatures up and made the fight much easier. In the camp they found the body of a man the creatures had been eating. Around his neck hung a strange pendant, that of a skull with a sword stabbed through it.

Some feedback

I delegated the responsibility of rewarding Fortune to my players. I hate having to remember to hand out rewards like Fortune and Inspiration. It is the last thing I'm thinking of when I'm running a game. Good thing for me, my players are all great. I knew I could give them the power to reward Fortune without being terribly concerned that they'd abuse it. I did reserve the right to veto any Fortune, though I didn't expect to use it. I also limited the amount of Fortune that could be handed out. Overall, it worked very well.

We got into a couple of big fights this time and combat moved along really well. The Laugher fight was tough, but they were level 0 characters going up against a hard monster. The group fight against the beastmen took more time that I'd expected, but they did roll really terribly. Things did get to be just a back and forth of rolling and missing toward the end, so I should have just routed the beastmen a turn or two earlier.

Things to remember

  • Chert is using the orb to make his technomancy spells work. Reward this creative role playing.
  • Shart has been stealing things from around town. This will eventually come back on him somehow.
  • Aeryn would be recognized by people who knew him.
  • Tomas, the magistrate's son (actually, Aeryn's son) really likes Chert.
  • Chert has the salt water decanter.
  • Krunk now has a mask made of stone and looks much more intimidating.
(c) 2016 Schwalb Entertainment, LLC

(c) 2016 Schwalb Entertainment, LLC

Shadow of the Demon Lord monster list

Update: There are a bunch of really useful reference tables on the Schwalb Entertainment site which you can find here. Use those instead, they'll stay more up to date.

As I've been doing prep for my Shadow of the Demon Lord campaign, I found I wanted a reference to the monsters that I could search through. I put together this little spreadsheet which allowed me to search and sort everything, so here you go.