Friday, May 12, 2017

Gods of the Fall - Session Prep - Out of the Frying Pan...

I don't really want to belabor a journey, especially in a game that only runs monthly. As such it's about time for the players to reach Mehergan and the Furnace. The problem is the PCs decided not to enter the Furnace this session and I spent a good three hours improvising Innkeepers, guardsmen, and the proprietor of a dry goods store.

Now I know how +James Walls must feel in our DCC games!

I spent my time laying a bunch of possible hooks. Weird visions that the Taran had when he touched the furnace. Weird sounds that one of the other players heard when near the same. The Furnace itself I played up like some kind of M.C. Escher meets the TARDIS impossible structure. It seemed to have a fixed external size but the inside features of even the tunnel running through it and acting as a gate into Mehergan were in flux. There was 6 doors one way, a dozen on the way back, and then four when a character looked the third time! That tunnel was 150 feet, a 1/3 of a mile, and 500 feet at various points. I'd say the character's are interested!

I also got to give my players some crap during RP, which was fun. The Taran innkeeper didn't take too kindly to Demodamas' comments about Taran cuisine. And she wasn't initially very warm to Polodius' attempts to curry favor by learning her language.

Thankfully at the end of the session we were at the end of the night and a perfect place to stop. Come next session the players will be waking for an early morning jaunt into the unknown!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Nuts & Bolts #118 - RPG Blog Carnival - Keep it Secret, Keep it Safe

This month's blog carnival topic: Occult Mysteries and Magic. In this usage occult is meant to convey the meaning of hidden and secret rather than the more commonly used current day meaning of things related to magic and astrology and the like. So really this month's topic is "secrets."

When it comes to hidden lore and magic a GM is faced with a real catch-22. If they use it, then it ceases to be hidden and secret; if they don't ... what's the point? To that end GM's need to be prepared to bring that which is hidden and secret into the light and make it known. In doing so you are going to fundamentally change the state of the game world, even if only a little.

Secrets and hidden knowledge work best as a plot point in a campaign, or even as a MacGuffin. The One Ring was the latter, a secret (forgotten) treasure of immense power and evil that drove the whole story of the Lord of the Rings before being destroyed. Consider the Mummy from that other film franchise (the good one with Brendan Fraser, not the crappy looking Tom Cruise one) his very existence was wiped from history and his resting place hidden to keep him bound forever in cursed undeath. Once that secret got out the plot advanced and bad things happened until the heroes ended the threat (in this case with other lost lore).

Alternately secrets can be something of a player motivation and/or reward. Perhaps the wizard wants to uncover the secrets of a long lost form of magic. That will drive the characters to quest for it and eventually be rewarded with that knowledge (or given reason to keep that knowledge buried). Or maybe a player gives his GM the gift of a mysterious background and leaves that up to the GM to develop and reveal as they like. Perhaps that character destined for greatness, or the lost child of a powerful figure, or maybe they just need to learn who the six fingered man was so they can avenge their slain father.

Regardless of how you use them in your games the thing here is that what starts out secret, hidden, or lost, will be revealed, in part or whole, to at least the PCs. They may choose to keep that secret from the world for its own sake, or they may reveal them for the betterment of their world. The choice will remain in the hands of the PCs and you the GM.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Story Seed - Shrine

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The shrine was overgrown with growth. Roots and weather had damaged the statues and standing stones extensively. There was no sign of caretaker or inhabitants. Only the grotesque remains of the statues, now crippled and deformed by rooty growths, populated this place. Even unmoving they made for unnerving companions.

Shala moved forward along the damaged stone path, careful picking the most stable footing. The wind sighed through the canyon's stone walls, sometimes whistling as it caught one of the old stone sounding tubes just right. The effect sounded like the moaning of the long dead. Shala shivered, her grip going white knuckled on the mace hanging from her wide belt. The wind also brought a strange scent. One of cinnamon and rose, and incense and some fruit that Shala could not identify.

Shala rounded an open bend, skiriting wide the gnarled figures that may once have been saints or gods. The scent grew stronger. Peering up Shala at last laid her eys on the a great blooming tree, the last Tree of Ashsang. Once the Ashang grew in every city and every temple, a promise from the gods to the people. They smelled pleasant to all who beheld them, and bore fruit that were said to heal even the more grievous of maladies and filled the belly like a holiday feast. All that was before the Fall. Before the gods died, and with it their promise of protection and beneficence.

Shala approached the tree, and saw that though it flowered it bore no fruit. With no fruit there could be no seed, and no hope of restoring the trees throughout the land. With no fruit there was no promise from the gods to the people. Shala regarded the tree, and contemplated how she could restore the promise, and in so doing, make the tree bear fruit once more. The prophecies had proclaimed and promised restoration, if only Shala could determine how to fulfill them.