Minotaur Civil War and Current Events

From Module to Incursion

I wrote a twitter thread about tonight’s game and I thought that got it out of my system but no, there’s more rattling around for me to chew on.

(NOTE: I’m re-reading this blog post and watching myself try to write a normal actual play post and failing to filter out how odd and wrong everything is right now. Maybe because it feels surreal to be gaming right now. There is going to be a game soon when I turn to my friends and say something like, “See you next game; I hope we’re still gaming in a democracy-shaped republic.”)

Thunderspire Labyrinth offered the inspiration – the treasure-hunters chasing a group of shitty people (in this case human traffickers who sold people to ghouls for food and slavery). The shitty people ran into the ruins of a minotaur city, said to be cursed and devil-haunted – you know, the usual.

The module itself was a bit too much for me, so I distilled it down to 5 sets, grabbing names and details from the module as needed:

  • Saruun Khel’s Gate
  • The Lantern Road
  • The Great Stair
  • The Flooded City
  • The Thunderspire Peak

Here’s the full write-up if you want to see what I worked off of today.

I wanted the players to know that there was more than one way in, so I made the goal of the first set: Decide how you want to enter Saruun Khel. The players were savvy. They watched the ravens flying around the gate, noticed that the older ravens refused to enter and only the younger ravens went in at all.

Saruun Khel

I’m not sure why a fantasy story about a beautiful city, full of bullish folk who worshipped labyrinthine choice and devils and demons falling to civil war because of the worship of a selfish liar full of secrets would appeal to me right now.

Drew made his Hunt roll to know the history of the place. His none-too-bright former gladiator knew the history of Saruun Khel because there was a gladitorial game based on the city’s civil war. Love it.

Sometimes Trophy Gold’s Hunt rolls call on the GM to say something the players find that is terrifying. Sometimes they find what they are looking for but still, run across something terrifying. It isn’t always a monster encounter.

When Revel was looking for a map of the city, I had to offer something terrifying.

“Here’s what is terrifying. This city was really beautiful. It was an architectural marvel, a flittering jewel in this mountain and now it is a flooded ruin. Now it is nothing but a dungeon to loot because of civil war.”

Yeah, it is obvious that shit is on my mind.

Griffons and Dragons

There was another cool moment where Revel charged a griffon. It was a dangerous move and Drew knew it. The actions of the other two characters entirely saved his ass. Rasei fired arrows at it and I had archery as a weakness of griffons – John had his character, Theoden do something so smart that I wrote it down as a new weakness. He used a spell to imitate a dragon call.

Of course griffons would be scared of dragons; it is the only predator above them on the food chain in the mountains. Those two actions, both utilizing weaknesses, dipped the griffon’s Endurance so that their roll defeated it.

I’d like to take this moment to say that describing a griffon dragging a goat up onto an 8 foot rock and eating it was fun. Giant eagle maw cracking bones and horns and hooves; the sound of it must be terrifying. That was a fun GM moment.

I knew there was a dragon in the Tomb Mountains but didn’t know if it was awake. Today I found out it was awake now. John’s character, Theoden, imitated a dragon-call to scare the griffon and then a few Hunt rolls demanded something terrifying.

Yup, dragon’s awake. What would wake up a dragon fast? A dragon-call. Mountain ranges aren’t big enough for two dragons.

I decided there was a scholar from the capital studying griffons in the peak.

The Big Score

Drew’s ex-gladiator said, “Where do minotaur store their taxes?”

The city is entirely flooded. The tombs are on hilltops, so they only have knee-deep water in them but the rest of the mountain is a big moongator tank. One can see the tops of towers and cathedral spires in the murky water. The players are thinking about ways to drain that water or freeze it and dig through the ice.

I had a panicked second – what would I do if they drained Saruun Khel?

It was a short second of panic. Here’s what I’d do.

In Trophy Gold you are saving up to get 50 gold and achieve your drive. What if they drained the minotaur city and defeated whatever was still guarding the city streets?

What if I just said, “Good job, you all achieve your Drives. Roll up new characters. You see a city just opened up called New Khel and adventurers are flocking to it. From this metropolis you can go delving in the underdeeps or along the surface of the dragon-haunted Tomb Mountains.”

Maybe they just do it. Maybe they’d just change the world a bit and we’d take some time to adventure in that changed world and see what treasures are worth hunting in it.

Maybe you can build something on the wreckage of a minotaur civil war.

Or maybe they’ll get eaten by the moongator, stalking the floodwaters, a moon-colored monster.

We’ll see.

Vote. Be prepared.

See you on the other side.

An odd night on a barren hill

When I have the energy to do so, I try to write a short synopsis of our Trophy Gold games. The dice kept telling me that strange and terrible things were happening. Who am I to ignore them?

This was tonight’s synopsis:

In which the treasure-hunters made camp on a hill after meeting a lost soul, discussed theology, went to bed for the night, thinking that they would wake up and go plunder the Palace of the Skeleton God with Blackwolf.


The Sisters, gods, devils, and saints of this world had different plans – very different plans.

It was complicated. A goat that had lost its herd instincts entered camp and was accidentally lit on fire – an amorphous blob-beast, drawn to the hill by the sorcery, ate the flaming goat and took on its characteristics. The treasure-hunters fought the flaming goat-blog-man and killed it.


Somewhere in there a god was spoken to in all of its fell, patriarchal glory and a soulless copy of Elezio (Evilezio), an illusion of Elezio brought to life by a sorcerous mishap, gave terrible dating advice to Revel.


Sometimes it just goes like that.


We’ll get to the Palace next week.


“Even by wizard standards that was a pretty fucking crazy night.” – Blackwolf, Wizard

Inspiration Goat Table Techniques #1

I used the above technique in the Thursday night Trophy Gold game and got a wonderful tale from Jesse. He told me about how his orphan pickpocket broke into a noble’s house and had to kill the noble in order to get out.

I loved it because it wasn’t a kill that made the world a better place (well, depending on the noble) and there was a touch of shame in it. This kid was a treasure-hunter because they had lived a tough life and this was the only clear vocation open to them.


Inspiration goat now has a twitter account that will act as a place for me to share these new weekly table techniques and the Daydreaming about Dragons podcast:

Where’s Judd?

If you’d like blog posts sent right to your inbox, please subscribe below:


These are the places you can regularly hear and/or see me talking about gaming or doing the thing and streaming some play. Links are both in the pictures and in the text beneath.

Here’s the link where I store my links.

I’ll update this as more comes up.


The logo for my podcast, Daydreaming about Dragons

In which I have a conversation with you about techniques that are shaking out at the tables where I sit and inspirational media.

Daydreaming about Dragons Podcast


In which Jason and I discuss the Trophy RPG and in doing so end up talking about game culture and techniques that link up to all kinds of tabletop RPG’s.

The Sixth Ring, a Trophy Podcast


I’m often gaming on the Actual Play twitchstream channel.

My first time getting back to Marr’d since I playtested the Dictionary of Mu almost 2 decades ago.



Inspired by our friend, Morgan Ellis’ character that he never got to play, we’re playing something Traveller-ish.

I’ve been honored to play so much on the Actual Play channel, a place where I’ve made wonderful friends and played wondrous games.


I have a Threadless shop. Design examples below:

Too Much Judd

I’m all over the place this week and thought I’d get the links all in one place in case you are on the road and need to hear me prattle on about games for a few hours but don’t have my cell phone number.

Daydreaming about Dragons, episode 57

AP: When not to game

IG: Book covers and back cover blurbs as a way to chronicle your game

Guest on the Grizzly Peaks with Andy

We talk a bunch about old Sons of Kryos days, being around indie RPG’s when the Forge was a thing and gaming in general from pbta to 5e. Andy was a lovely host with a cool podcast. Check it out.

The Sixth Ring, Beginnings

I was sincerely honored to be asked to co-host this podcast about Trophy games with Jason Cordova of Gauntlet fame. The podcast is about Trophy Gold and Dark (and more?) but many of the techniques discussed are usable all over the table and cool monsters are cool monsters. If Monsters from the World’s Birth sound interesting to you, check it.

Reply Show Garden

I had most of a reply show done and figured, why not make it 4 podcasts in one week.

The Cyberpunk Nurse

Daniel and I are playing Cyberpunk A.W. using the Burned Over Zine rules with asynchronous video and I’m totally digging it. It is like video play-by-post. The link above is the playlist where you can find it all.

It is not often I’m gaming and think, “Shit, this feels new to me,” but this game is odd and new. I’m digging it and cyberpunk feels like the perfect genre for it. Daniel is a real-life nurse and he’s bringing to the table.

If folks would like, I could post when we get updates under the twitter hashtag #cyberpunknurse.

https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/collections/monster-manual-heraldry

This design and more in the Monster Manual Heraldry Collection.

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.


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Find this design and more in the Geek Media Studies collection…

https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/collections/geek-media-studies

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.

EDIT: This goal sucks. Let them know that the map is buried with Gygax’s friends outside his tower right from the jump. The new goal: Learn what you can about Gygax and his history with the town of Arneson.

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.

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

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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