The Voyager Hunts For The Thessalhydra

Happy April, everyone. Today, I’m going to be doing something special. The D&D Adventure I’ll be playing, Hunt for the Thessalhydra, seemed to have been written in a notebook and then published by Hasbro Gaming, presumably cleaning up and digitizing the text that was written into the notebook, though keeping some pretty nice drawings done by someone named “Will the Wise”. The aesthetic is interesting enough for me to play it, so that’s what we’re going to do today.

There’s five premade characters I’ll be using. Let’s get an introduction to them, shall we?

  • Adam, a Half-Elf Wizard who is devoted to a god despite not being a cleric. I would assume that, with Elama, a Wood Elf Cleric, took him in as her own (right down to getting a trait from her known as Mask of the Wild) where they worship the deity known as Naralis Analor.
  • Baggi, a Half-Orc Ranger who has explored the far reaches of the realm with her companion Cadman, a Human Paladin who doubles as a mercenary.
  • And lastly, Dain, who is a Dwarf Bard who just wants to entertain.

This will be an interesting game and the notes from the adventure creator, Mike Wheeler, gives some nice advice about DMing a game. While it’s indicating that these are notes for himself, the way it’s all described, it feels more like the standard advice you’d get from a starter’s box… Strange.

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Biopunk 2040

The normal approach I take when playing my own custom rules is that I translate another game’s rules for the express purpose of either simplifying it or because there was something I could use from the game.

So far, I’ve done this with three games: Scalemail, which was a simplification of Chainmail, Yurei World, which was my attempt at extending After School Curse Club, and lastly Winter’s Duty, which was an expansion of the original game Winter.

However, the game I’m playing today, 2040, was a game I made as part of a game jam and not out of a desire to clone and change up a previous game. It was a sort of challenge that I ended up achieving at and I feel like a good test of the game will work.

One of the charms for the 24XX system is that you can easily generate a character and story at random. In this case, it’ll take a lot of die rolls. But first, allow me to sell you the setting:

The year is 2040. Mankind discovered a means to artificially extend their lives with man-made organs known as Augments. However, with this came the need to monetise and soon, companies made it so that the Augments are on a “pay-per-month” basis and that missing out on a payment will get the organs repossessed, regardless of if they were keeping the person alive.

If you find this familiar, that’s because I based the premise off of Repo Men and Repo! The Genetic Opera, which both involved artificial organs that would get repossessed. The difference is that with this setting, players take the role of people who either went without Augments or actively refused to pay for them. In other words, they’re out of the system and are free agents, which ties into 24XX’s “job of the week” style gameplay, though there is the backdoor for a campaign about taking down the system should the GM decide to expand upon that.

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Star Crossed Lovers

It is Valentine’s Day once more and, as per tradition, I will be playing a romantic RPG. This time, it will be Star Crossed (it’s also on itch.io), a game that… uses… Jenga…

Oh boy.

For those who don’t know, I had experimented with a Jenga-based RPG before, and for reasons stated in that post, I elected to make a system that uses no Jenga tower… to great failure. In hindsight, what I realized was that you need to weight the answers as you would the tower. It’s not likely to fall down if the structure was sturdy.

One idea to handle this problem was to use Tabletop Simulator and use a workshop file that plays Jenga. Problem is that the version I got just had a bunch of towers and if you wanted to make one yourself, you’d have to import the small block one by one.

An easier solution comes from Speak the Sky, which doesn’t sound as easy, as you would need one hundred d6s and remove the ones that rolled ones. However, with the advent of online dice rollers like Roll20 and Foundry (okay, technically they’re more than just that, but still), it’s more or less achievable. There is a snag though. How would one be able to count the 1s?

Thankfully, there’s a solution I have. /roll 100d6>1f1. This will count remove all 1s from the check and tell you how many d6s to roll for the next pull. This is going to be as experimental as the Mythic Dread idea, but I’m willing to put faith in something that has been discussed with tons of line graphs and has its own dice roller programmed in, with thanks going to Max Kämmerer for the latter.

However, for the sake of note taking, I’ll be using Roll20 (since it will keep the information of how many dice that I have left should I put the game on pause for whatever reason) for the time being… Now for everything else.

I’ll be honest, I have no idea what scenario I want to play out with this. Other Valentine’s Day games I had either had pre-set scenarios or, in the rare case, I already had a scenario thought out. This, however, I have nothing. However, I have a few ideas meted out thanks in part to the images and examples.

One of the examples has a relationship between an Imperial Vizier and a Galactic Empress while one of the art pieces has an astronaut hook up with a centaur. This caused an idea to be born in my head: Basically, what if Avatar (the movie, not the cartoon) was more of a space opera mashed up with Lord of the Rings?

The Vizier idea had me think back to the Reylo ship, a pairing between the protagonist of the Star Wars sequel Trilogy, Rey, and her main rival in those movies, Kylo Ren. The idea is that the Lead will be someone akin to a Kylo Ren, assigned to a distant planet to keep an eye on and see if it’s deemed worthy for its induction into the Empire. Said planet is stuck in ye old fantasy times and the representative who would be guiding this guy through the planet is an elf lady.

The problem is that, throughout his stay at the planet, he’s grown attached to his tour guide. The guide, similarly, seems to like his presence a little more than one would have for their tourist. One of the major rules when it comes to judging planets is to avoid any bias. As such, should word go out that the two had a fling, accusations that she slept with him to get a favorable result will flood forth and put both their lives at risk.

So, we now have the reason they’re together, what is pushing them towards each other and why they can’t just make out.

Another two things to finalize is who the “partner” will be as well as implementing the X-Card mechanic. I established this before, so I’ll put my mechanic forward while I’ll use the UNE/BOLD/CRGE system for any interactions with the Lead. The reason I pick this is because the Lead decides how a scene begins and what better scene setter than an Emulator?

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Why I Won’t Be Playing The Other Two Worst RPGs Of All Time

A while ago, I played the worst RPG known to the Tabletop RPG industry, FATAL, and found that, even without all the offensive material, it lived up to its name. Needlessly convoluted with its skill system, its job system hopelessly broken, and the entire game is incomplete. And yet, of the three to be considered the Unholy Trinity…

This is the only game I can play. Today’s post is going to go into detail as to why I’m not going to be playing the other two entries in the “Worst RPGs Ever” category. Before you think that these are a no brainer, allow me to preface this with a question:

If it took me a while to wrap my head around FATAL’s system, how would I be able to wrap my head around these?

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The Quiet Year Post-Mortem

My overall thoughts on The Quiet Year are that this is a pretty great map-making game. So long as you have a good idea in mind for the setting, you can pretty much make a fun story out of it. As a solo game, however, it is rather difficult to figure out a way to play this solo without betraying the core rules of the game.

While the base of the cards and the rules surrounding them make for good worldbuilding, playing the game as written solo is a different story altogether. Not only did I have to invent a new rule (the Shadow Action), but also reinvented how the Contempt Tokens worked. The end result is essentially a different beast altogether.

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A Quiet Year To Close Out SGAM 2020

For this year’s Solo Gaming Appreciation Month, I decided to do what I usually do and roll three of the challenges into one: try out a new game that involves map-making (possibly analog) and then review it. Well, turns out there’s a game I heard that is basically that: The Quiet Year. I heard quite a bit about this game and I feel like this would be a good time to finally play it.

It’s one of those games that have physical properties to them. In this case, a deck of cards and tokens are needed alongside the rules and dice. There’s also, as the above paragraph implies, paper and an index card required. I’ll be drawing the map on GIMP and will have a separate document for the index card.

So, the plot for this game is that, after warring with a group called the Jackals, a village is given one quiet year (hehe) to themselves before winter comes. When it comes, it will bring with it things called the Frost Shepherds. I imagine these would be akin to the White Walkers from a Song of Ice and Fire or, if we want to be obscure with the references, the Ice Jester’s forces from Feast of Legends.

Right out of the gate, the small rulebook I can keep in my pocket is a really nice, step-by-step guide for learning how to play the game. Easily a good way to help get the ball rolling for solo play. One section was very thought provoking, as it tells people to “dispassionately introduce dilemma”. This basically tells me that there’s more to this game than “hehe, draw stuff” like I had originally thought.

Speaking of, my instruction is to now draw the map based off details and already, we’re gonna need to do a variant because there’s no group, just the solo. Rather than “each player adds a detail”, I’ll instead apply it as “four details about your map”.

So, here are my four: The village is inside a naturally made crater. Man-made stairs were placed to get to the surface, alongside aural shields to protect them. The last detail is that, each house contains ten people. So, already we have protection from predators as an Abundance, perhaps what powers it is a Scarcity. Food and water, I think it might be normal levels.

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Tales of the Winter Pyro

Reflecting on the past journal games made me realize that Winter, while a fun game, needed some improving, especially having played Thousand-Year-Old Vampire. So, I decided to hack the game to make it a little more automated. You can read the rules here. It’s slightly more expanded than the previous hack I did of Winter and I’ll get into those details when possible and if not, I’ll explain more in the end.

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Storyline: The Witch’s Downfall

For Halloween, I’m going to play the Scary Tales variant of Storyline. Spooky, I know. Before we begin this session, however, we have some new tokens that are different from the old tokens, so, I’ll break down the rules for those:

  • The Grave: This character is already dead. Introduce them as a posthumous character like a ghost.
  • The Magic Hat: This character knows magic.
  • The Rose: This NPC also has a [Place], [Action], or [Object]. Counts as a 2.
  • The Bones: This character is doomed to die. Their death is mandatory for the story to conclude. Counts as a 3.

With that out of the way, let us begin the Scary Storyline.

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Thousand Year Old Vampire Post-Mortem

While not truly RPGs in a traditional sense, journaling games seem to have a large place in my heart, as some good stories can be told with just a prompt and a few gameplay mechanics to drive the narrative further. I had earlier said how Thousand-Year-Old Vampire was one of the best, if not the best, journaling games I have ever played. I’m going to expand on that by comparing it to the other journal games I have played, as I feel like Thousand-Year-Old Vampire fixed the holes I had with those games.

Now, I shall start with a disclaimer. Obviously, no RPG is created equal (even those that share the same system will have their differences), especially in the terms of quality, as some of these games were made for Jams. I love all these games evenly, as they each hold a place in my heart. However, it’s through comparing do we see how a game mechanic makes the game enjoyable, especially in examining through a solo lens. With that out of the way, let’s begin with…

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