Stars, Wars and Dystopias: Reading, Planning, Writing

Reading: I’m flirting with a few fiction books and reading a few books about medieval warfare but it is Stars Without Number that is dominating my eyes lately.

In other media-intake, I am really enjoying Adam Koebel’s twitch output, from his dapper GM advice in Office Hours to his Space Master/Dungeon Master technique in Court of Swords and Swan Song.

Planning: The lure of a weekly face-to-face game at the apartment is calling to me. Maybe in October…

Writing: Misspent Youth material for the upcoming kickstarter and a few blog posts.

And you?

Situation Mining: Until the blood on your hand is the blood of a king.

5 dead kings

Tiamat crowned 5 Her five chosen kings. Each king may ride one of her draconic consorts into battle once in their lifetime.

It is said that each of these kings will birth a daughter and those daughters will reign for a thousand years until the Messiah Empress, Tiamat’s truest daughter, will come to unite all 5 thrones until the end of time.

You can’t let that happen.

Insurrectionist Character Sheet

  • Write a belief about the people (fellow player characters) you are inspiring to rebel.
  • Write a belief about the crowns and thugs who will be destroyed in the coming glorious revolution.
  • Write a belief about the government that will replace the kings and how you will put it in place.

axe

Desperate Killer Character Sheet

  • Write a belief about what you are making with your knife-work.
  • Write a belief about something beautiful that allows you to momentarily forget about the death you deal.
  • Write a belief about an ambition beyond murder and revolution.

axe

Advisor to the Court Character Sheet

  • Write a belief about when you realized that the nobles were without morals.
  • Write a belief about someone in the noble court you want to save from the coming carnage.
  • Write a belief about someone you will need to see dead in order to begin the revolution in earnest.

axe

Merchant Character Sheet

  • Write a belief about how you could make money off rebellion and revolution.
  • Write a belief about you earnestly believe the government needs to change.
  • Write a belief about the moment you decided that you’d risk everything your family has to fund a rebellion against the five kings.

 

gallow ravens

NOTE: Maybe the characters will survive and succeed, founding a republic on the bodies of dead and surrendered kings. Maybe many will end up with their heads on chopping blocks or hanged for their seditious crimes. I can’t help but think it will likely be the latter or perhaps a blend of the two.

Have fun, see what happens and e-mail me or leave a comment about the bloody details if you give it a go.

Characters all burned up with the online character burner.

Images:

Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. “Rubric; full-page miniature of kings strung up.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1445. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47da-e6dc-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. “Full-page miniature.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1445. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47da-e730-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

The British Library Flickr Account. “Image taken from page 81 of Rambles Round London Town.” The British Library Digital Collections. 1884.  https://flic.kr/p/hUc23o

 

 

Planarch Codex has me thinking about Kobolds

From an e-mail about an upcoming DW/Planarch Codex game:

I think I want to play a kobold, straight out of the Monster Manual.

A little scaled, horned being who grew up among 40 to 400 other kobolds. Raised to hate in a huge evil pile but left home with his red robes, his short sword and his wicker shield and is realizing quickly that the way he was raised might not have been perfect.

And so, I re-read the Monster Manual entry:

kobold jpg

Gens?

I asked on G+, thinking I had run into some kind of old school D&D jargon but no. I was set straight.

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 10.52.08 PM

“gens, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, June 2016. Web. 15 August 2016.

Rachel E.S. Walton and Playing Thieves at the Gaming Table

Rachel E.S. Walton is one of my favorite people I’ve met through role-playing games. When I ask some friends if they had a good gaming convention, some have said, “Well, I got to game at the same table as Rachel 3 times, so yeah, it was a good con.”

You can find her on G+ or see an example of her work here, where she made our campaign an amazing movie poster.

We got talking about 2nd edition D&D and playing thieves and then this interview happened.

Tell me about playing a thief in Quest for Glory, please!

Okay, so I’m going back 20-some years here, but Quest for Glory was my first memorable experience playing a thief in a game and one that forever cemented my love for the character type. At the time, playing a computer game was still pretty new and exciting, so it’s hard to separate the game itself from that world-opening experience. But the graphics were really good for the time, and the MIDI atmospheric sound was excellent. I can still feel my gut clench up a bit at the foreboding music of the “pick your hero type” screen and hear the tap-tap-tap sound of distant villagers going about their business in the background. The sound is so cheesy now, but they really knew how to work it.

What I remember the most was practicing abilities over and over to improve them and getting to see them actually improve. Like climbing. At first the hero is slow, but after practicing a bunch, he’d be zipping up and down the rope or gate with comical speed. After dragging myself away from a frustrating encounter, it felt pretty great to practice a bunch and then go out again and overcome that thing. And while that had moments of tedium, overall the game was just fun. Different sorts of puzzles and quests. Talking to people, helping them, and getting clues. Sneaking around. The scary thrill of going through the world at night. Dorky puns and a built-in sense of humor. (Pro tip: do not drink the Dragon’s Breath ale.)

I don’t think playing a thief was spectacularly different from playing a fighter or magic user in the game, but this was a game and character that stood out from any of the other games and characters I had played on my brother’s Nintendo. It was a character type that rewarded preparation, planning, puzzling things out, caution, and a bold move at just the right moment – a manifestation of my personality type like I hadn’t experienced in a game before.

Dungeons and Dragons was still a taboo gateway-to-darkness in my mind, not even really on my horizon yet. But this game! This game was all fun and adventure.

Clearly, we will have to play this for the rest of the interview.

When you describe the way skills go up and planning and puzzling things out, it almost sounds like Burning Wheel! That said, I feel like when we talk, Burning Wheel is always looming in the background when we geek out together.

Did you play every game in the Quest for Glory series?

Were there more steps on the transitional road between Quest for Glory and D&D?

I am listening to it right now. I am mildly horrified that I can enjoy a MIDI soundtrack, but this still has power.

And yes – what you just mentioned is part of why I found Burning Wheel so appealing. With D&D I never liked that advancements did not correspond with what happened fictionally. It broke continuity to go up a level and improve a skill never used or to suddenly have access to complex spells. It always felt like we were leaving out an interesting and important piece of fiction – and this was years before I ever heard of story games.

But going back to Quest of Glory, no – I never played another. As much as I loved various pieces of geeky media, I wasn’t really part of nerd culture in the way a lot of folks seemed to be. I had moments of obsession and did a few intensely nerdy things (nerdiest thing ever: AOL Nintendo summer camp on the internet), but sometimes my love encircled a thing and found contentment and satiety. Quest for Glory was one of those things. And I didn’t find another roguish game I loved as much until the much more recent Dishonored.

As for what came after Quest for Glory, Betrayal at Krondor was another dearly-loved computer game that prepped me for tabletop gaming. But it was a few years before I ever played D&D.

D&D was not something I had heard anything good about growing up. As part of a conservative Christian family and community, I had heard the urban legends. I was a pretty sensible kid and had little interest in opening a gateway to the occult. But then our family became friends with another Christian family and they were awesome. They also happened to be democrats, which was weird for us, and their son, who was my age, ran D&D. He talked about it and it sounded like the kind of stuff we were already into, but more social. So my parents said okay. Softies! And suddenly there were four of us, exploring the Grand Duchy of Karameikos in my room while our parents met for Bible study downstairs.

I played a thief of course! Disappointingly, I remember exactly zero about that character. I think I only played them for a few sessions and it wasn’t particularly memorable. I remember two things keenly though. One, was lovingly pouring over the AD&D Complete Thief’s Handbook. Especially the equipment lists that evoked that most amazing possibilities for carefully planned adventures…caltrops and poisons and oh no! – encumbrance. I’d have to plan my pack carefully…an annoyance I secretly delighted in. But these sneaky adventures never came.

Just a few sessions in, Christmas came around, and my GM handed me a present. He was practically wiggling with excitement about it. So I opened it and was a bit confused – it was the AD&D Complete Psionic’s Handbook (no, my GM was not John Stavropoulos). “This is for you to play!” he blurted out. He was a friend and super excited, and I still didn’t know my way around the game yet, so I said, “Cool, thanks,” while trying to hide my disappointment. I figured I’d give it a go because maybe it actually would be cool. But the psionic proved ill-suited to the world and fun proved elusive. womp womp

On the plus side, even as a tabletop newb, I understood the faux pas and determined to do better when the opportunity arose to GM D&D in college. I never did get a chance to do a D&D rogue justice except with an NPC – it was hard to pass off the mantle of GM! By the time I finally had the chance to play in someone else’s ongoing game, I was deep into the world of indie games and D&D was history I felt more frustration over than nostalgia for.

If you had mentioned any of this before we started our current (and wonderful) BW campaign, that game would have had a very different pitch!

Well then I’m glad I didn’t mention it, because I love our current game a lot.😉 But I would LOVE to do a rogue-ish Burning Wheel game with you sometime – or try the same setting from a different angle. And as much as I love them, I often don’t play rogues! They’re something of a genre unto themselves, so some of the really good stuff – the sneaking around, the underdog or outcast status, the fraught back-stories, the clever problem-solving, the undermining of the political system, the fun equipment, the mix of undesirable and charming, etc. – these things don’t fit into every game well, nor should they. Not that all of these pieces have to be present to play a proper rogue, but they do suggest things about what the world is like, what the character’s place is in it, and what kind of challenges might happen, or what the game needs to support.

When coming to the table, unless I’ve been asked to, I try not to come with strong preconceived notions about what I want to play. Because more than a black-leather-clad sneak with some lock picks, I want to play a character that fits with what the game does well, feels like a part of the setting (even if they defy it somehow), and works with what other players are trying to do. If I try to force my preconceived idea into what’s going on, it’s rarely satisfying to me or anyone else.

The image of kids exploring Grand Duchy of Karameikos while their parents were studying the bible is delicious! Do you have any particular nostalgia for the Gazeteers or Mystara?

None at all! My memory of that campaign is a handful of fuzzy moments and little else. The pleasure of hosting my friends in my room, the old briefcase the GM kept the books and papers in, the sound of scribbling pencils, the desserts we scarfed afterward when the adults were done – those memories are much more palpable.

Dishonored is a game I’ve heard many of my friends talk about. Is there a common thread between Dishonored and Quest for Glory?

Switching to this soundtrack now. ;) 
The common threads between the two games are just a few basics. They’re both rogue adventure games, although Dishonored is much darker and grittier. And most notably for me: they’re both finite. They have main objectives and side quests and you can decide on approach, but they both head toward an end game. I like sandbox games, but I avoid them because they’re bad for me – I have a hard time stopping! I may blow week on Dishonored, but then it’s done. A sandbox game just keeps going. Of course, it’s different for a sandbox tabletop game – everyone meets for a couple of hours or so and then puts it aside until next time. Much healthier!🙂

Dishonored though. I have not loved a video game more than this one. It has some problematic content – I won’t deny that, but the setting is rich, and the game play is phenomenal. I have reached such levels of frustration playing games with awkward or highly complex controls. In fact, I used to say I hated first-person shooters for this reason. But I can’t say that anymore because but the controls in Dishonored are intuitive and super-smooth, and if you have a hard time doing a thing, there are other possible approaches – it doesn’t punish you if you can’t master the drop-from-above & stab motion, for example – you can try another way. In fact, you don’t have to stab at all! It’s a violent game no matter what, but you can play the entire thing non-lethally and that influences the game world in subtle but cool ways.

To me, these parts make a huge difference in playing an amazing rogue game! It goes beyond rogue-in-name and takes it to rogue-as-an-experience. Smooth game play means I get to feel like I’m really controlling a badass with physical prowess, not like some other games where there’s a disconnect like, “sorry dude, I know you’re awesome, but I can’t perfect this awkward 6-button forward-up-aim-shoot motion on the controller.” And having options in how I approach a problem or finding another way also feels very rogue-ish to me. I can be straightforward, stealthy, murderous, merciful, resourceful – whatever suits me and the situation and keeps the evil rats away. I’ve played it through twice and I can’t wait to play through it again, but I’m waiting until I finish a big project.

I read somewhere that you started GMing in college. Did you give any special attention to the thieves and rogues in the group you DMed?

I had a big group, so I tried to provide a variety of plot hooks to appeal to different players, but I mostly tried to make interesting situations that didn’t require a single solution. If wanted to see what they would come up with, whether they were a rogue or a barbarian. AD&D gets a lot of flack, but I actually preferred it to 3rd edition because it had suggestions for giving characters XP for doing things that defined them – rogues doing thiefy things, wizards casting spells, etc. Once we converted to 3rd edition, there was really only XP support for killing stuff, if I remember correctly. I worked around it, but I felt much more on my own. It was my first big realization that the system really didn’t support the fun we were trying to have.

Anyway, there were a couple of rogues that cycled through that game – I mostly remember how much trouble they got into because they had poor impulse control.🙂 And I got a little bit of a rogue fix with an NPC who had a lock racket. He would make and sell master locks and break into homes that didn’t have them. I used him as a bit of a guide in their early days, and he ended up pretty well loved so he was a useful plot device too. When I started a new D&D game some years later, he came with me like a well-worn jacket and he survived our conversion to Burning Wheel. He was mostly a friendly face in the village by that point, but it was nice to have him around.

Any other fond memories of 2E, system AP, whatever comes to mind?

oh! How about I confess my worst GMing sin?

Even early on in my GMing days, I knew it was important to not hold so tightly to my vision that I shut down players, so I was pretty good at working in oddball stuff. BUT I also didn’t have a strong sense of when to say no and what certain imbalances could do to the game. Mostly this was not a problem – my friends were all amiable and interested in having a good time together. But then there was this one guy. He built a Drow or half-Drow and because we used a stat system where you could spend two points from one stat to increase another by one point, he ended up with this monster with 3 Charisma and 21 Strength. We’re like, “that’s ridiculous – you know you have the Charisma of a skeleton and people will run screaming from you, right?” And he was okay with that and the group said okay too. Ugh! But the worst part was, he was also playing Chaotic Neutral and in order to play that up, he made his character start acting increasingly erratic and lashing out. And with 21 Strength, you don’t lash out without huge consequences. He got into a fight with another PC and almost killed them and he threatened the others “because that’s what my character would do.” The other players were pretty upset. They didn’t feel like they could say or do anything to steer his behavior in-character and worried that even if they ganged up to exile, capture, or attack his PC, he would likely kill a couple of their PCs in the process.

Obviously this was something to be addressed out of character. Obviously. But we were worried that confronting the player would only lead to a temporary improvement and we were SO over this character. But rather than handle this like adults anyway, and talk to him, laying out some parameters if he wanted to keep playing with us, a few of us gathered in the dimmed florescence of the cafeteria after hours and plotted his PCs assassination.

We sat there discussing resources and pros and cons of different methods. My above-mentioned NPC had on him a vial of powerful acid for dissolving stubborn locks. Someone else had silencing Boots of Elvenkind. I offered to have my NPC carry out the act so the burden of responsibility would be on my shoulders (how noble of me).

So…the terrible day arrived and we started playing as usual. But I didn’t draw it out too long. I narrated it being at night when everyone was resting. Every moment of this felt heavy. The group was unnaturally silent because they knew what was coming. I made a successful roll to stealthily sneak into the ill-fated PC’s tent. And then I described the awful pain of acid being poured onto his face and the fade to black. The absolute worst part of all of this is that the player didn’t yet understand what happened and he picked up his dice and had this really eager look on his face – he thought it was yet another challenge to overcome because he trusted me. “Okay, what do I roll?!” “Nothing. There’s no saving throw here. The assassin didn’t make a sound and he poured powerful acid on your face…you’re dead.” This one of the most uncomfortable moments in my life. None of us were happy – we were all squirming with discomfort.

The player got up and left, swearing up a storm down the hall. One of his closer buds went to check on him. I can’t remember what conversations were had after that. I think we did manage to talk more directly to him. He asked if he could play another character and of course I said yes because I felt terrible. So here’s the best/worst part: he came back with a new PC: a friendly, boisterously cheerful wizard who spoke in the most ridiculous Scottish accent. It was so obnoxious. But we let it slide. Penance, I guess.

That is a great story. I’ve totally been there.

Thank you for taking part in this interview, Rachel.

Traditions of the Swordlords: Letters to the High Swordlord

angry bear

His handwriting is that of a scholar. Somehow it lets you know that, despite the artistry, he wrote this himself.
High Swordlord of the Charterlands
Custodian of True Swords

Congratulations on your recent ascension. We have several statues of the Sword Saints in our city’s libraries and when they all turned to swordsteel, our local scholars were amazed.

My dear niece, Strisha, has written several treatises on the Rostland Swordlords and would love to take the journey north to your Charterlands. If you would like the services of an Absolom-trained scholar, please let me know.

Lord Gyr of House Grixx
Primach of the Absolom Congress

boargriffongoat

Her handwriting is precise and evenly spaced. You can tell from her letters that she has been both a soldier and a stateswoman.

Zora Kucera
High Swordlord of Olde Rostland
Defender of the Chartered Lands
Knight of House Kucera

As I am sure you know, the 5th Medendevian Crusade has been called and even now holy knights and anointed warriors march towards the Worldwound to do battle with Abyssal forces.

We write to ask that you send soldiers to do battle with evil.

If you wish to send us exiles as a punitive measure, please let us know and we can dispatch sheriffs to march them northward towards their redemption or death.

The Swordlords of Rostland are the subject of many-a-song and tale; I write this hoping that those songs and poems ring with truth.

Yours,

Queen Gaffrey of Mendev
Warden of Nerosyan
Sword of Iomedae

boargriffongoat
It is the familiar handwriting of an Olde Rostland knight.

High Swordlord!

I never thought I would write those words. I am honored to do so and pleased to know the True Crown sits in your brow.

The Brevosi Ducal Council wants to negotiate a peace with the army I have gathered from the Kellid horse tribes of Numeria. I write you to request that your brother, Lord Cyril Kucera comes to New Stetven to help us in the negotiations. It is my hope that we can not only secure my children and many captured True Swords but also Brevosi gold to pay for their dishonor and make the Riverlands grand.

Please send word back with my messengers.

Long may House Kucera reign over the Charterlands!

Dame Eliska Nemec

boargriffongoat

It is the handwriting of a highly skilled church scribe, which has a formal and uniform quality that you can now recognize since their recent arrival.

High Swordlord Zora of the Charterlands
Esteemed Knight of House Kucera
Overseer of the Rivermark
Warden of the Eastmark, Wyrdmark and the Daggermark
True Swords’ Custodian

I never thought I would see a High Swordlord wear the crown in my lifetime. It is an honor to have seen the Sword Saints bestow such an honor and meet a Swordlord worthy of the ascension. May our sword arms be fast and our shield-arms be steady.

There are sword-talkers with me who could allow me to meet you through Bohuslav but I thought an old fashioned letter would be the best way to continue our discussions.

I will be staying in Spearpointe for some time, making sure the changeover goes smoothly. With your permission, I would make this place the home of the Saints’ Church and hold our elections here, appointing bishops and the like. If I am blessed enough to be elected as the Riverlands Bishop, I would make Spearpointe the capital of my diocese. I could oversee the municipal responsibilities also. As a former Swordlord, I have done this kind of work before and the familiar tasks are a comfort to me in my dotage.

Also with your permission, I would leave Sister Seda with you at Ft. Hajek has a tutor and spiritual guide along with half a dozen scribes trained to transcribe Bohuslav’s words with you, as we did in Olde Rostland. If she could serve you on your councils, we would be honored to have a place at your side. Sister Seda has an earnest and open quality that some take for being naive but I am among those who find it refreshing in this cynical world we find ourselves in.

I ask again for permission to dole out permits for martial weapons (swords, spears, war axes, great bows, crossbows and any polearm) so that your vassals pay for the privilege, so the church can take its old responsibilities and so we can keep track of who is armed.

And once again I caution you concerning the education and raising of Eralla. She will soon be in the Myrk and will no doubt be sent to Salt Island for her education. I would prevent that if possible.

On to new business and new requests, I hope that your current heir is publicly and officially declared, not only for the possession of Bohuslav but for the position of High Swordlord. Is that position linked to Bohuslav?

And lastly, how may I best serve you? What do you need from me? I may be old but I am not made of glass and will serve you in whatever way I can.

Your servant in faith and all that is Saintly,

Sword-Matron Reverend Mother Kazamira

boargriffongoat

Her handwriting is business-like and precise. It looks more like an accountant’s ledger.

Swordlord,

With my new knighthood, I thought it would be a good idea to send you a report of the state of the Riverlands Army.

We have soldiers whose enlistment is up in the autumn. They can take their pay and leave unless the Riverlands are in a state of war. This is, of course, assuming that our army is going by the same laws as we did in Rostland. Most as assuming as such. We are not losing any Sergeants, though there are rumors of a core group who want to leave all together and settle in the south, forming steading-fort communities. Most with stripes are looking to myself and Dame Clea, hoping to gain a knighthood.

Our organization is a bit of a mess. We only had one lieutenant and no captain. In truth, I was acting as a captain since we’ve arrived.

I would recommend a captain who will report to the knights and lieutenants in Ft. Hajek, the Icarre Mine and Olegton. I can put forth candidates for lieutenants if you’d like. We have plenty of blooded soldiers who would make fine enough sergeants.

Knights have served as captains in the army in the days of Olde Rostland and I would be honored to take up such a position if you’d wish.

We need to recruit more soldiers. We’ve had some who have run but we have also had deaths and normal attrition. The money you’ve paid us allows for this kind of effort. I’d recommend that the new recruits serve at Ft. Hajek. The grounds here are best for drilling and the soldiers here are the best seasoned.

It is worth noting that with just a bit more, say 400 silver (4 resources), we could also accelerate our horse training. This silver does not include the horses, of course.

Will we keep the army? I know the nun said that the army led to the Olde Rostland’s fall but I think that is naive nonsense. Without her soldiers, Rostland would have fallen long before.

I am honored to serve among the Riverlands knights and will do my best to live up to what you see in me.

Sincerely,

Dame Kaari Forte
Riverlands Knight

 

 

Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Ischys and Coronis, or two Niobids, conducted by two genies of the Netherworld to Apollo and Diana. Below are a boar, sphinx, goat and a griffon.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1844 – 1861. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e4-19cb-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
Godbound: Pantheon in Vissio

Godbound: Pantheon in Vissio

Godbound is a d20 joint from Sine Nomine with no classes, feat-like powers and a spin on hit-dice that allow players to kick bad-ass monsters and the world they inhabit straight in the teeth. Like Stars Without Number, it has inspiring tables to help the sandbox GM to make things, both the night before and at the table in a pinch.

I sent the players the one word blurbs on the Nations of the Realm and they chose Vissio, which is essentially a quasi-Renaissance Italy with scheming merchant princes, fine artists, clockwork limbs and poets. I wrote up some notes on Maltesta and claimed an island right off the Vissian coast as ours. The way the book is laid out, each nation is laid out on its own single page. That is really handy.

The night before, I rolled up on the court charts, fleshing out the Malatesta Nobility, the local cathedral and the merchants behind the local slave trade. At the end of chargen, we had a member of a secret society of assassins whose dad Duke Claudio Malatesta. We had a former pit fighter whose mother freed her from slavery through blood and sweat and now led a gang, the Laughing Priests. And to round it out, we had a majestic gargoyle.

samson

I started the game during a masque ball at the castle and started pushing buttons. We had some quick combats with mortals which was a nice way to show how fragile mortals were to them. Even with some bad dice luck, humans were fragile. After a whole session, we found out how fragile society was when a pantheon of demi-gods start throwing their weight around.

I rolled up the 3 courts (Malatesta aristocrats, the local slavers and the church hierarchy in the local cathedral) but went in with a few ideas. Here were the things lurking in the background of the game as it went on:

  • The Malatesta family has a tarrasque under the castle that they can kinda-sorta control…or at least they can send it after someone at great cost. It is up to the church to call it back.

20160815_174557

  • The local slave traders are fighting off being bought out by a Bright Republic corporate interest.
  • The duke’s vizier has an Efreet bound to him.

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  • The Cathedral can call upon an angel that will inhabit a beautiful statue made of marble and gold and do divine will stuff.

Before the game, I asked Aaron if he had the Monster Manual, the Monster Manual 2 and the Field Folio handy. He did (of course he did).

We warmed up with the Pit-fighter vs. 2 gladiators…the gargoyle vs. an assassin…the assassin vs. another assassin and we’d rolled some dice against humans, fragile, puny all-too-mortal humans. Someone was trying to have Claudio killed and honestly, if the assassin hadn’t been her daughter, he wouldn’t have lived through that first night.

Or as she put it, “Dad, you are making it really hard to keep you alive right now.”

The first real legit combat was against the Efreet and it was fun. The way damage works means Hit Dice = Hit points at the scale we’re operating on. So when the Efreet doled out some damage and didn’t fall to the first round of attacks while sneering, “I’m not handing out any wishes today,” the gargoyle used a power granted to him for having the Earth Word of Power. He blew out the floor, dropping the Efreet right on to the Tarrasque who was slumbering in the caverns beneath the caves where they were fighting.

For a big fight with the Angel statue I grabbed the weakest angel template out of the Godbound book and proceeded to eff the pantheon (Godbound’s term for party/posse/fellowship/troupe/etc.) up. Goliath the Gargoyle made some brutal decisions with his miracle powers and nearly killed the angel in one shot. I had the angel concentrate all 3 attacks, describing the angel’s actions, “It says if you want the spear, you can have it, throws the golden spear at you and proceeds to pummel you with its marble fists.”

The dice told us that we had a dead gargoyle…but…BUT he had the Earth Word and that means that nothing stone can harm him. He took the first die of damage from the spear but the rest didn’t go off. The assassin killed the angel with a bow-shot. There was a cool description of her going into her quiver and finding an arrow she’d never seen before, with a Tarrasque horn tip.

By the end of the session, the group had leveled up to 2nd level. They spent their Influence and Dominion and ended slavery on Malatesta Island. With 3 godlings at the table, combats become fun fast without being overly complicated or slow. I’d be curious to see how things would shake out once I got more adept at making antagonists and the players got more adept at using their powers together.

IIf this game were to continue (I played with friends I was visiting from out of town) I’d be looking at fiery creatures and thinking about the City of Brass (the Efreet they fought got away, after all) and visiting other planes through the Night Roads. I’d be curious to see what kind of cults the characters start up – see what their religions look like as they become more and more godlike. The pantheon would have to figure out how they are going to deal with the Tarrasque that they managed to get shoved back into its cave.

I want to roll on the courts charts and make a Demon Lord’s Hell-planes and an ancient dragon’s spy ring and an invading army of Githyanki. I want to look at the local map and seed some parasite gods, some made gods and other fun stuff from the book.

Essentially, like any good game book – after playing it and read it over, I want to play more Godbound.

What is Luke Cage reading?

New Luke Cage trailer hit today and in the final seconds of the trailer, he’s reading Walter Mosley’s Little Green.
Luke Cage Reads Walter Mosley

Other relevant Luke Cage graphic novels and related material:
Power Man and Iron Fist: Heroes for Hire

The first volumes of the Avengers, where Luke is a member of the team:

The New Avengers, volume 1

The New Avengers, volume 2

More books about black culture and super heroes:
Super Black: American pop culture and black super heroes

Black Comix: Africa American independent comics, art and culture

And of course you can’t go wrong with reading more Walter Mosley or listening to him talk to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

What would be on your Luke Cage reading list?