Sunday, December 9, 2018

Silent Titans Playtest, Game 1

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Last thursday I was lucky enough to participate in a playtest of the upcoming SILENT TITANS, referee'd by the fabulous Fiona Geist!

THE CAST

-RENWEIN GOAT-SAINT: A goat-person with a saint-mask; a fiddler, deal-broker, lover of song, possibly the Devil itself? Played by Bardaree.
-PEREDUR (PENDUR) SUN-SHEEP: A sheep-person, skilled worker, strange ally, suspect friend, fierce foe, and literal and figurative black sheep (wearing a sun mask). Played by Corey.
-NIKITA EEEK: A radical russian communist artist with fabulous hair. Played by Zedeck.
-GODBOLD STAG-STAR: A stag-person with a star mask, a fey-touched mesmerist who can make women hallucinate. Played by yours truly.
-JACK 'ICEBERG' BERG: A 65-year-old pugilist who can read hit points and hates the commies. Played by Claire.
-KAESO CLOVIS CATO: A roman legionnaire who is convinced the Mask-Men are gods. Played by Ian.

IT BEGINS

Our cast of strange and sundry characters have been sent through the folds of capricious space-time to this nexus of fates: a stairway atop a tower beset by storm, betwixt twin doors of brass and onyx, staring up at their dread foes: Dr. Hog and his cohort of bowler-hat-clad, uzi-toting Brain Apes.
They must place their trust in their strange allies, or die alone in this twisted place.

Combat breaks out immediately as the simian goons prepare to open fire. Seeking to impress the animal gods, Cato stands forth, and the party huddles behind his sturdy legionnaire shield. After exchanging a hail of fire, Renwein, Pendur, Jack, and Cato run through the brass door, while Nikita and Godbold rush to the onyx door.

THE PENDULOUS SHAFT

Through the brass door is a ship tossed in storm, with a crew slaughtered out of time, filled with a ballast of 500 clocks ticking out of rhythm, a massive store of rations, and a 21st-century hand-cranked desalination engine. The clocktower tolls ominous in the distance. The four loot the bodies and examine the clocks, then move towards the clocktower.

Through the onyx door is the Pendulous Shaft, which poor Nikita and Godbold plunge right into. They plummet amidst pendulums and chains towards a web of garbage at the shaft's base. The Chronal Parasite, a clock-junk spider amalgam humming a nonsense tune, catches the scent of prey and moves in. Nikita lands on the web harmlessly, and Godbold catches hold of a pendulum, and the spider heads towards him. He attempts to befriend the parasite by complimenting its musical style and postmodern sense of aesthetic, but the spider takes this as a romantic overture and attempts to Unify with him. Nikita opens fire and the rest of the party arrives on the scene and kills the parasite before it eats poor Godbold. They loot the body to find a pair of Biomechanical Injector Rapiers (which were once the thing's mandibles).

MERRIMENT, GRENADES, AND MENTAL AFFLICTION

The party proceeds deeper into the complex and enters a workroom in disrepair, attended by aimless clockwork skeletons. They dispatch the skeletons easily, though Cato takes a minor wound and realizes that this is not, in fact, a dream, and flees. The party eyes the glimmering golden clock-parts, but are beset upon by a squadron of Brain Apes. A firefight ensues, and Cato is caught in the blast of a Brain Grenade, and temporarily becomes a kleptomaniac. After a pitched battle, the party again emerges victorious. Nikita, however, has had her fabulous hair infested by Silver Ants that emerged from the ape corpses. The ants begin to whisper their sibilant lies. Renwein threatens to use bolt-cutters to shear Nikita's glorious locks and cure her of the ants, but Nikita resists. Cato attempts to kleptomaniacally steal Renwein's beloved fiddle, and Renwein retaliates by activating another grenade. This time, Cato becomes romantically obsessed with Pendur (and will be afflicted with these conditions for some time, as his Will stat is 5), Jack is possessed with unstoppable rage and begins punching an ape corpse into mush screaming that "THEY WON'T TAKE AWAY MY FAMILY VALUES", and Nikita is afflicted with Postmodernism: everything becomes a symbol, and she is bored with existence (but both it, and the ant infestation, wear off quickly due to Will saves). Realizing they are dithering, the party then presses forward.

THE FINAL CONFRONTATION

Our brave heroes arrive to see a looming tower molded from flesh and bone into the depiction of a face, ancient and obscene. Gemlike protrusions glitter throughout. A mob of Brain Apes has gathered upon the tongue, and from the cranial cavity Dr. Hog howls down about how 'YOU ALL SHALL DANCE TO THE TUNE OF MY FUNGAL CLAVICHORD!' The nefarious doctor reveals this marvelous invention, a biomechanical beast covered in rhizomes and waste matter, that he plays like a piano, calling forth nebulous gobbets of decay and disease. It appears to serve as a hive for the Silver Ants that seethe within the brains of the apes.

Combat begins as Cato, seeking to impress his beloved Pendur, leaps toward Dr. Hog with the intent to steal his Multifarious Ray Gun. Pendur also moves towards the doctor with hostile intent. Dr. Hog zaps Pendur with his Ray Gun, and makes them ethereal. The Fungal Clavichord launches a missile of ant-encrusted filth that misses. Nikita sees in Dr. Hog the epitome of the Capitalist Pig that she has opposed for so long and fires at him, dealing heavy damage. Jack, still afflicted with murderous rage, decides to turn it towards the mob of apes, and charges them while brandishing his lead-cored walking stick. Godbold throws his grappling hook, attempting to pull the Fungal Clavichord away from Dr. Hog, but fails the tug-of-war. The squad of apes fire upon the party, but suffer from severely low damage rolls. 

The battle then organizes itself into two fronts: Cato, Pendur, and Nikita against Dr. Hog and the Clavichord, and Jack, Godbold, and Reinwen against the Apes. 

Between Reinwen's blunderbuss, Jack's walking stick, and Godbold's glass sword, the apes fall within a few rounds. Meanwhile, Cato kleptomaniacally swipes Dr. Hog's Multifarious Ray Gun and turns the doctor ethereal. A Brain Grenade explodes among the group, afflicting them with even more conditions, most notable being that Nikita falls in love with the Fungal Clavichord. To be one with her beloved she tears the implants from Dr. Hog's skull and plants it in her own, and discovers the arcane truth about the Silver Ants. Meanwhile, Cato and Pendur beat the doctor to death.

With Dr. Hog's death, the cranial tower begins to fall apart as the titan wakes. The party fails to grab any of the gemlike protrusions (or anything of real value) before they are cast out of the Titan's mind and into the Wir-Heal. Nikita, who left clutching her beloved Fungal Clavichord, discovers that in the real world it is just a filth-encrusted typewriter. Womp-womp.

DENOUEMENT

So ends the first session of Silent Titans. This was an absolute blast, Fiona did an excellent job refereeing, and I cannot wait until next sesson! 
Poor Godbold didn't get to make anyone hallucinate, but he did discover a depth of courage within his tiny deer heart. He also got a whole 1 hp, bringing his total up to 2 (o frabjous day! callooh! callay! I chortled in my joy).

If you, too, want to dance to the tune of Dr. Hog's Fungal Clavichord, check out the SILENT TITANS kickstarter, which has been backed to three times its initial goal within the first 24 hours! Further updates can be found on Patrick's blog.




Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Dreaming of Near Kingdoms

Image result for creatures of near kingdoms

I suffer from Insomnia. The bad kind, the capital I kind, the kind that dictates the rhythms of a life, that affects my relationships with people. Sleep meds don't play well with my metabolism or brain chemistry.

Lately I have taken to reading this curious little book before I go to bed. Three to four stories at a time. Stringing it out, savoring it. The nights that I do this, I sleep easier. Something about this book runs counter to the sharp, jagged metal anxieties that keep me up at night. The words are a soft firefly's glow, the feeling of dew, the smell of green and the sound of birdsong in the morning. Every story is a smile and outstretched hand. Paired with illustrations that pace and lope alongside you as you travel, that delight and baffle the wandering eye.

Cacti that create local deserts in order to thrive. Roaches that continually stay just out of sight. Living, lonely mural pandas. Each creature is so familiar and yet so new, in this kingdom that is so near and yet so far. You feel like you could find them in your backyard, if you woke up one day in a world made just a little more mischievous by a pair of subtle hands, one with a pen, one with a brush, working in concert.

My favorite creature? The Auntie Wasp. Possessed of a generosity and nurturing nature so incredibly rare among insect-kind that it seems a miracle, or perhaps an ironic twist of fate.

Find this gateway to kingdoms near and far here.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Veins of the Earth Automated DM Screen


This is for the book that got me into the OSR: the beautiful and horrifying Veins of the Earth by Patrick Stuart and Scrap Princess. I could go on and on about how great this book is, but the work that went into this DM screen will explain that better than words.
(This is mobile-friendly. Consult it from your phone while you're DMing a Veins game.)
(The HARDSHIPS section was made with help from Max Cantor's excellent List Scroll Function.)

STARVATION

A day's worth of rations costs 100sp and takes one encumbrance slot.

10 calories = 1 SP = 1 Lume.



HYPOTHERMIA

Constitution save for every turn(10 mins) spent in hypothermic conditions. On fail, gain a stage of hypothermia.

To recover, must be warmed by a source of heat. Recovers 1hp lost to hypothermia each minute, then wake up. Sensation returns to arms and legs in two turns, hands and feet in one turn.


Thursday, November 15, 2018

Mothership: Dead Planet DM Screen

For an excellent little module that has stolen my heart as of late: Dead Planet. (Also highly suggest taking a look at its parent game, Mothership)
This is all about making a DM's life easier, and putting usability first. It's completely mobile friendly, so you can run it from your phone while DMing a game. Table groups unfold and re-fold so you can focus on whichever section of Dead Planet you're using. Gaunt AI is on its own because it's useful throughout the whole module.