Post-Agon Affinity fun

We’ve got a Sunday afternoon Agon game going. I need more brunchy gaming in my life.

I’m playing Hathor the Bloody-minded, though I think Hathor is trying to turn a new leaf during his post-war trip towards home…not that he thinks he’s going to survive.

We played most of the way through Kryos this Sunday, ready to rock into the final conflict next Sunday. I’ve been playing with the Affinity Suite lately and wanted to make something inspired by the game.

Found this amazing photo by Kurt Komoda blkFigWhtCROPFLAT via photopin (license).

Harpies vs. Greek Soldiers

In our Agon game, we set up a new festival in which the folk of Kryos offer treasure to the harpies in return for their protection. Charlotte, the game’s GM, offered this amazing detail for the harpy leader, that she had gold and silver woven into her feathers.

I had two goals: gold and silver in the lead harpy’s wings and that dude laying hands on the harpy’s arm needed to go. It was a fun edit.

I was talking trash as I worked on it.

“Lay hands on the Harpy Queen, will ya…not on my watch, emmer-effer.”

Someone please notice the blood on her claws…

Haunted Dragon Bones

Image by Freemdeem from this reddit post.

hard landing

Theme

Fire

It is a bringer of death and a funereal rite. Fire destroys but the ashes are often fertile ground for future planting.

  • What is some destructive metaphorical fire that your treasure-hunter suffered through but found something fertile in the ashes after the fire had been extinguished?
  • Is there anything in your life right now you need to set fire to?

Sometimes I forget to ask questions during the encounter/adventure. That is okay. The results of the adventure and treasures will stay with the players for a while. When it comes up or when they are remembering back on this, keep the questions in your pocket and use them to make the adventure relevant to that very moment.


Title

Haunted Dragon Bones

Dragon-lore players might not know is in italics. Perhaps they do know some dragon-lore. If so, ask how they learned it. Was there home village burned by dragonfire? Was their wizard-teacher a dragon-mage? Did they steal a book on dragon-lore from a mage’s library?


Set Goal

Get out of there with the rare dragon bones without bringing dangerous dragonfire ghosts along with them.


Moments

  • The feeling that someone’s gaze is on you and that this gaze has a palpable heat.
  • Birds chirping cheerfully in the distance but none getting close to the dragon’s corpse.
  • The smell of something burning, an inferno, even though your other senses say no such fire exists.

Props

  • Dragon Bones: Brittle and brown, covered in muck and mud, they seem like normal bones.

Do the players know their dragon lore? Once treated with intense white-fire heat the bones will become harder than steel.

  • Dragonfire Ghosts: The ghosts are off in the distance, just out of sight, only able to manifest when a fire is lit near the dragon-bones.

Dragon-lore: Dragonfire ghosts manifest through fire – night or day is the all the same to them.


Traps

  • The dragonfire ghosts will come if the players light a campfire or torches of any kind.

Dragon-lore: There is one dragonfire ghost for every tooth in the skull. The ghosts can be put to rest by burying the teeth in a formal funeral ceremony (even if the teeth are dug up later). Or they can leave the teeth here and the ghosts will stay with the teeth.

Dragon teeth can cut ghosts.


Dragonfire Ghosts, 4

dice-six-faces-one Scream and writhe as if burning

dice-six-faces-two Poltergeist-move fires towards anything flammable

dice-six-faces-three Share their memories of fire and blood

dice-six-faces-four Babble in draconic about being unable to reste

dice-six-faces-five Cut themselves on the dragon’s teeth while pawing at the skull

dice-six-faces-six Insert themselves into memories of fire and doom

Defenses: Noncorporeal , physical weapons have no effect

Weaknesses: Prayers of mourning and funereal rites, need a fear to be nearby in order to manifest


NOTES

If you need this to be more recent, have the players see the dragon fall to the ground. The encounter doesn’t change much.

How much are the dragon-bones?

I’d roll 2d6 and keep the highest to see how many of the bones are useful. If they think to grind the bones into dust and sell it to alchemists, roll 3d6 and keep the highest.

If they use it for their own shenanigans, have fun making up uses for dragon-bones.

Encounters like this, mini-incursions are great if you are using these travel rules.

Wouldn’t it be cool to have a whole pdf or book of one-set mini-incursions for when the treasure-hunters run into dangerous things out in the wilderness? Yeah, I’m thinking about that. Maybe I’ll make something once the Village… is done.

If you use this in your game I’d love to hear how it goes.

D&Dish: Questions to ask players about their character’s Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma

Asking good questions is such a big part of being a good librarian that it was a shock when Apocalypse World first made me really think about questions as a tool at the table. Of course gamers asked each other questions before Apocalypse World; I’m not saying the Bakers invented questions or the question mark. But naming the tools in one’s toolbox makes it easier to reach for said tool and makes it easier to discuss how to use them well.

The questions here go back and forth between questions for high stats and questions for low stats. They can easily be changed a bit for the middle of the road results.

Below are the pretty versions with world bubbles and character sheets but below that is just the text.


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DnD Sheet Questions


Strength

Were you born strong or did you work hard to become strong?

 

What is/was the worst part about not being the strongest?

 

What feat of strength have you always wanted to accomplish?

 

How did you survive without physical strength?

 

When you locked up with the strongest person you’ve ever wrestled, what happened that made you realize they were stronger than you?

 

Dexterity

When did you realize you were faster/more graceful than everyone around you?

 

What is your worst nightmare about being clumsy?

 

What feat of grace have you always wanted to accomplish?

 

What did you almost drop?

 

Which monster was the children’s game you were so great at named after?

 

Constitution

What did being hale and healthy allow you to accomplish?

 

What was your haven during your sickest days?

 

What did you survive because you are so durable and healthy?

 

When were you most sick and who took care of you?

 

What did you attribute your great health to? Ancestors? Deities? The crystal clear water in the streams where you grew up?

 

Intelligence

When did you first realize you were the smartest person you knew?

 

How did you deal with the written word being so difficult for you?

 

What was the first problem you solved with your intellect?

 

How do you react to being called dumb?

 

What was the first problem you could not think your way out of?

 

Wisdom

What did you realize about the adults around you at a young age because of your incredible perception?

 

What problem in your community did you not see because of your lack of wisdom?

 

When did you first give wise advice to a friend and how did their problem find resolution?

 

What personal shortcoming did you fail to see until it was too late and damaged your life?

 

Which prayer has the most personal meaning for you?

 

Charisma

Who were some of the first people you remember charming?

 

How do you recover from bad first impressions?

 

When was the first time you realized the power you wielded in front of a large audience?

 

Who did your lack of charm and social grace push away that you really regret?

 

What was the best performance of your life so far?

Improvisational Worksheet: from Ep 55 of Daydreaming about Dragons

This is the improvisational worksheet mentioned in Episode 55 of Daydreaming about Dragons. It was made after talking to Janaki, trying to give structure to the ways I make things up on the move when the people at the table delight and surprise me.

If you have any questions please let me know.

 

Improvisional Worksheet

 

This was made with Canva.com.

Village near a dungeon with a necromancy problem

WARNING: IF YOU PLAY IN THE THURSDAY NIGHT GROUP; DO NOT READ THIS. 

Alright, I’m going to write this up as an incursion for Trophy Gold in one sitting. I read this when I woke up and I’m going to write this before I get my coffee. All names will be obvious placeholders that can be easily tossed out for easy insertion into your game world.

Clues, things players will likely need are in all caps.

History:

Arneson is a distant, pleasant village with more sheep than people. Gygax, the friendly hedge wizard, had a tower nearby, always on the horizon. Most years, the big deal is rounding up the sheep and selling the wool at the crossroads market. No knight nor any ducal authority figure has been here in the eldest elder’s memory.

Gygax died and the wizard’s cruelest apprentice, Lor, came back with a posse of mercenaries and has taken charge of the town looking for lost power.

Secret shit the players should uncover pretty quickly:

Gygax has been here for years to watch over their master’s tomb. The Wizard’s master, Braunstein, was a necromancer he stopped from becoming a lich with his old adventuring party. Lor is looking for Braunstein’s tomb so he can find the lich-rites for their own use.


The Town, The Tower, The Hills & The Tomb

basic incursion diagram


The Town

Overview:

Unless you the treasure-hunters someone in town, most folk are going to assume you are a posse of mercenaries or friends of Lor and keep their heads down. The villagers are clearly terrified.

Set Goal:

Find out where Gygax left the map to the tomb.

Moments:

  • Mercenaries abusing a villager to pass the time.
  • Children playing pretend as Gygax and his adventuring party.
  • Elder engaged in tense negotiations with mercenary sergeant concerning village search.
  • Villagers leaving offerings to the All-Mother on the altar near the village well.

Props:

Elder House: The hierarchy of the town is pretty flat but one person is elected Elder and they get to live in the Elder House with all of the oldest and wisest from the village. Moldvay is older than dirt and will mischievously steal something off the players and give it back to them with a wink. Moldvay was the thief in Gygax’s party – you can give a clue to this in the children’s game.

MOLDVAY TOTALLY KNOWS THAT THE MAP IS BURIED WITH GYGAX’s OLD PARTY IN THE CEMETERY OUTSIDE HIS TOWER. Moldvay asks to go with them and is old but it also surprisingly spry (if you want the players to have a mentor who isn’t going to do much derring-do because of bad knees, here you go).

Elder Kaye will offer 5 gold if the players can promise to have Lor and the mercenaries out of Arneson within two days. He’s savvy and knows they’re looking for something and doesn’t want to pay for protection if it means the treasure-hunters just wait until Lor finds whatever it is he’s looking for and goes away.

The Well: A good place to catch up on local gossip and offer prayers at the nearby altar. The All-Mother is most often prayed to but other saints, Sisters and deities are welcome; folks will ask good natured questions about foreign prayers. Sergeant Metzger will likely stop by to find out how long you’ll all be staying, warning you all to move along at first light tomorrow.

There’s One in Every Village: Braunstein had one family on his side and they still pray that he will return as a lich some day. Their family has a secret altar to the Necromancer Braunstein behind a secret panel in their cottage. If anyone shows necromantic powers or prays to any death deities or ghoul saints, the elder of the Avalon family will approach them.

If you want to ramp shit up, maybe this family grabbed a guard and sacrificed them to Braunstein in a blood rite.

Traps:

Mercenaries being cruel to the villagers could draw the adventurers into a fight, announcing their presence to Lor and causing them to speed up their search.

Treasures:

These folks don’t have shit. The only real money to be made is making a deal with Elder Kaye.

If you kill any mercenaries, their gear is worth about 2GP each. The sergeant might have some memento pillaged from some distant castle; if a player has some castle in their backstory that they haven’t visited in years, put something they will recognize and let them know that this mercenary company pillaged that castle.

Monsters:

Mercenaries (2 squads of 6 people each in town, another 2 squads patrolling, 4 squads camped outside the tower)

ENDURANCE: 5

  1. Playing dice, bored
  2. Terrorizing villagers
  3. Actually doing their job looking for clues as to where the map is
  4. Sighing as they draw their weapons, offering warnings
  5. Grinning as the fight begins
  6. Checking on and mending gear and weapons

NOTE:  I like the idea of human bad guys but if you want a little touch of strange, maybe Lor gave them animal heads with gifts from different animals.

Weakness: The mercenaries fight well together but don’t do well alone. Single them out and alone they are fairly useless.

Defenses: Good gear and weapons

Animal Heads

  1. Hawk
  2. Boar
  3. Wolf
  4. Lion
  5. Vulture
  6. Goat

Rules:

If the players keep a low profile, Lor will take their time and their clock will be a 12 part clock. If a player fails a roll or they spend a night somewhere, click off a part of the clock.

Once Lor knows there are adventurers in town shit gets real and the clock becomes a six part and Lor will get aggressive, sending hunting parties out to get them. At this point there will only be two squads in camp and Captain Allston will rarely be there.


The Tower

Overview:

A humble 3 story tower on a hill that once belonged to a Tower Knight, back in the days when dukes set aside silver for such things. Attached is a stable and a pig pen. At the bottom of the hill, near a stream, is the mercenary camp with 4 more squads of 6 and Captain Allston’s senior officers.

Set Goal:

Dig up the graves of Gygax’s adventuring party and find the pieces of map carved into the lid of each coffin without anyone knowing.

Moments:

Mercenaries grumbling about shit-eating wizards while bringing buckets of fresh water up to the tower.

Mercenaries saying a few words over the fresh grave of their friend killed by the owlbear in the cemetary. Shovels are nearby.

Stream gurgling in the distance while bumblebees buzz lazily through the air; this is beautiful country.

Somewhere in the distance, the owlbear shrieks a hoot-growl.

Props:

The Tower: Lor is going through Gygax’s library and finding nothing. There are wards to keep the mercenaries away. It is a 3 story tower without much in the way of adornments. After killing Braustein, Gygax settled down and didn’t adventure much, happy to stay in his tower, living the good life, offering some vague wizardly wisdom to the villagers when needed.

If the players somehow get access to Gygax’s library they will find he was fascinated with the history of the Tower Knights; most of the books are about the knights, trying to piece together the identity of the knights who lived here. The mention mention of Braunstein’s tomb is a vague snippet in the margins of a book: MY FRIENDS GUARD THE SECRET OF THE TOMB. Lor hasn’t figured out what that means yet but he will.

The Cemetery: Gygax’s adventuring party are buried here: Cookie, Bell and Perren. The map to Braunstein’s tomb is carved into their coffin lids.

The Camp: An orderly mercenary camp but the captain’s gold from their last contract is here.

The Owlbear Cave: Gygax’s old owlbear still remembers Lor fondly and follows their orders as if they were the wizard, happy to have a wizard to follow again. Lor has the money they’ve promised to pay the mercenaries hidden in the owlbear’s cave. The cave’s floor is covered in sheep bones and has a nest where the beast sleeps. Under the nest is a secret compartment where Lor keeps his treasures.

Traps:

The owlbear and the mercenaries are a real danger. Lor is either out scouring the hills for clues or is in the tower reading through the library.

Treasures:

Captain Allston has 20G in a locked chest in their tent. There is always an old merc who lost a leg in a campaign sitting on it.

Lor has 10G under the owlbear’s nest.

Monsters:

Owlbear, a nightmare of furry feathers, claw and beak, two terrible predators mashed together for the sole purpose of guarding wizards’ shit.

ENDURANCE: 8

  1. Hoot-growling
  2. Climbing a tree in order to pounce from above
  3. Clawing a tree with arcane sigils
  4. Eating a sheep it caught
  5. Mauling
  6. Beak cuts through armor

Weakness: If you cast a spell in front of it and offer it some food it will take you for a wizard and cautiously follow your orders

Defenses: Furry feathers are tough, claw/talons and beak rend through armor


The Hills

Overview:

Beautiful rolling hills, dotted with sheep.

When Braunstein was killed, the folk of Arneson killed the necromancer’s servant. They buried their body in a local barrow, hoping the ancient king would hold the necromancer’s servant from coming back and seeking vengeance. Any shepherd kid in the hills will gladly tell the treasure-hunters that tale in return for being able to hold a weapon or hear about life far away.

Set Goal:

Hunt the ghoul here for its treasure or ambush a mercenary patrol out here if you wish but know that nothing of Braunstein’s tomb is in the hills.

Moments:

Sheep scatter as the mercenaries march by in formation.

Shepherd’s dog runs circles around the sheep, keeping them together.

Someone’s playing a haunting tune on a flute while they watch their herd.

A sheep is found, eaten by the ghoul.

Props:

The Barrow: A simple barrow where the ghoul was buried in a coffin wrapped in chains. Those chains are broken.

Below that, the ancient king is buried with their ancient treasures.

The ghoul, nor the king (someone will find a way to talk to the dead king; I’m sure of it) have any idea of where Braunstein’s tomb is.

Traps:

Only bad dreams…surely that can’t be bad, right?

Treasures:

If the players dig under the ghoul’s coffin they will find the ancient king who the locals hoped would keep the ghoul from awakening. The king’s ancient jewelry and iron crown will fetch a fine price. Its bronze weapons are likely to break but were made to kill undead; that was the job of ancient kings, to guard their people against the dead.

Monsters:

Ghoul, dead skin stretched over sinew and bone with crimson teeth

ENDURANCE: 6

  1. Jumps on you and bites any exposed flesh – hands, neck, arms…whatever
  2. Hisses
  3. Bites off a piece of your flesh
  4. Tangles you up with its cold limbs as it attempts to clear away clothes or armor and get its bite
  5. Holds weapon thrust into it so it can get close
  6. Offers you a piece of your friend it just bit off

Weakness: Holy symbols and the ancient king’s weapons are made for killing undead

Defenses: None


Braunstein’s Tomb

Overview:

Built into a hill hidden in the nearby haunted forest.

Set Goal:

Get that treasure.

Moments:

Flocks of ravens cover the trees, imitating things they hear the players say, mocking them.

The click and wirr of Gygax’s traps as it activates

Props:

Trapped hallways: Gygax trapped the hallways. The traps are obvious; Gygax was a wizard, not an engineer.

False Tomb: A sarcophagus mimic, surrounded by the bones of the animals it has eaten. The only real clue is that the mimic isn’t centered on the raised platform. The True Tomb is in a secret room under the false tomb.

True Tomb: Braunstein’s bones are charred black because Gygax tried to burn them because the lich-rites are burned into the bones and can’t be destroyed by any mortal means. Maybe dragon-fire could do it, erasing the fell knowledge from this world.

Bas reliefs on the walls show the adventures of Gygax’s adventuring party to kill this bastard, like a final plea not to use the rites on their bones.

Traps:

Pressure platers. Trip-wires. You know the drill. Find a map and have a blast if that’s yer cuppa tea.

The mimic is ready to eat the face of someone who tries to peak in its “lid” to see what is within.

Treasures:

Lich-rites on Braunstein’s bones is priceless to the right necromancer if you have no morals.

Brauinstein had other treasures. Need some ideas on what? I’ve got a mini-supplement for that.

Monsters:

Mimic, stonelike flesh and rows vicious teeth

ENDURANCE: 9

  1. Swallows you whole
  2. Jumps on someone
  3. Blocks the doorway
  4. Spits out bones after quickly sucking meat off what it has eaten
  5. Jumps on whoever has fire
  6. Faces of those around it show up in carvings on its body

Weakness: Fire

Defenses: Stonish skin, Surprise


Other Monsters

Captain Allston and his Senior Officers, vicious professional soldiers.

ENDURANCE: 7

  1. Getting quickly into formation
  2. Offering mercy if you put your weapons down
  3. Striking down anyone who shows arcane skills
  4. Retreating efficiently when they are losing
  5. Closing ranks when one among their number falls
  6. Barking orders

Weakness: Arcane powers

Defenses: Well kept armor and well wrough weapons, Discipline

***

Lor, young necromancer with a posse of skeletons

ENDURANCE: 6

  1. Bolts of black lightning rend flesh
  2. Sharpened bones pierce armor
  3. Nearby dead rise and begin fighting for him
  4. Offers mercy if you throw down weaposn and bow before him
  5. Sneers at anyone who practices arcane rituals, “Amateur!”
  6. A sharp dagger as a desperate last measure

Defenses: Necromancy (+1 Endurance to anyone who dies during battle)

Weaknesses: Close quarters combat


Names

I always like to have the names for an adventure in one place

  • Gygax, the dead wizard
  • Braunstein, the dead necromancer
  • Lor, the cruel wizard
  • Captain Allston, mercenary captain
  • Elder Kay, village leader
  • Moldvay, elder, thief in Gygax’s original party
  • Tac, the owlbear, not named in the above text yet

I’m trying a thing.

Version 0.1 (not much different from this blog post) is now for sale on itch.io

More versions will be uploaded and the price will go up as the project develops.

 

An Obituary for Aram

Rest in peace, Aram.

You died as you lived, you glorious bastard – fast, flamboyant, always skirting the edge between a picaresque ne’er-do-well from a Jack Vance novel and a loveable rogue from a Fritz Leiber story. You lived as long as you did on the cunning of your sorcery and speed of your wits.

You locked the Baroness in her ruby sarcophagus, tricked and slayed the Ghoul King and trapped the vampire general in an unwinnable position so that the aged hunter could get his vengeance.

How does one become a saint in this world? Do the Sisters welcome you to a holy post in the Loom’s pantheon? Is there a Saint of Treasure-hunters? Maybe we will start to hear of St. Aram in the years to come.

St. Hastad of the Pockets

My favorite moment from last night’s Trophy Gold game or maybe just the moment that is lingering with me this afternoon as that session had plenty of amazing moments.

The group decided to walk into the Ghoul King’s Fort posing as emissaries from the queen. Aram, a disgraced courtesan,  knows court and  the queen. It was all very Star Warsy, putting on Stormtrooper armor and walking around the Death Stars with Chewie.

The fort was an ancient ruin in the middle of a lake; not many visitors. The guard went to tell the king. Near the gate was an altar, a place where people who are waiting could pray. The most prominent deity was the World-Eater, a kind of rough cylinder with a lamprey mouth, a vampire god the ghouls worship. On the altar are icons the locals put there, dragon-gods are the local pantheon so there’s the Five-Headed Empress and the Platinum Emperor.

There was some tension – would this ruse work? A good time to ask some questions.

What deities do your characters honor? 

Aram stole the icon of the Platinum Emperor.

11065992084_0e96beb883_o

Esfa put an icon of a raven, the death deity he honors.

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47da-474a-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.w

Revel remembered having to dress as gods and saints for gladiator fights during festival days. He remembered that the World-Eater helmet was uncomfortable.

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47e4-0bdc-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.w

Rasei, played by Jesse, wasn’t sure.

“Is there a trickster thief god?” he asked.

“Yes, the saint of thieves,” I said because putting the word saint with words I don’t associate with saint always pleases me. Saint of Axes, Saint of Ghouls, The Wizard-Saint, etc.

“Saint Hastad of the Pockets!” Anthony said with gusto, joining in.

“Also known as Old Hundred Hands,” I added, writing down, St. Hastad of the Pockets in my notebook.

And Jesse told us about how Hastad’s icon wasn’t put on the altar directly. Thieves hid the icon nearby. Rasei looked around the altar for the icon of St. Hastad and found it in the World-Eater’s mouth with blood on it.

Rasei cleaned it off and hid it under the altar.

Great moment of myth, ritual and fantasy.

Later that session Rasei was sneaking around the fort and knew he was being followed. It was a ghoul guard. Rasei ambushed him, killed him with his spear, driving him into an alcove. There on the window sill was an icon of St. Hastad.

Ask questions and use the answers. Encourage everyone at the table to join in.

Fun times.


We’re up to $94 for Paid for in Blood, my Trophy Gold Treasure Mini-Supplement. Can we hit $100 today?

Maybe.

Paid for in Blood FRONT COVERPaid for in Blood BACK COVER

May your preferred saints watch over your endeavors.


Art

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “[Flying raven] Ex libris” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1875. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47da-474a-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Ein zaghafter Gladiator in den Kampf getrieben” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1852 – 1898. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e4-0bdc-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
British Library Flickr Collection: ‘Cassell’s Library of English Literature. Selected, edited and arranged by H. M. … Illustrated’ 1875. https://flic.kr/p/hRS6UY