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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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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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 Businessman

I realized that, as Halloween approaches, I should do a little more than a simple spooky variant of a story-telling game I already played. And so, I figured it was time to break out the solo gaming darling: Thousand-Year-Old Vampire.

Released earlier this year, Thousand-Year-Old Vampire is about, well, a thousand-year-old vampire. Its premise is similar to Plot Armor in that it’s a journaling game that will end with your character’s death, but now, you’re a vampire instead of a pilot and you’re in a millennium-spanning historic instead of a short-lived mecha anime. 

However, there’s a lot more bells and whistles to Thousand-Year-Old Vampire in contrast to Plot Armor, such as setting up the character. So, for instance:

My name is Elijah Brown. I am a businessman working at one of Amazon’s offices. I was recently laid off due to circumstances beyond my control.

I figured to do a modern to sci-fi story here. Next will be his three Mortals.

Isabella is my wife. She’s a devout Christian and managed to convert me. Mr. Stanley was my former boss who fired me, cheap son of a bitch. Then, there’s Mr. Giovanni, my… ahem, loaner. Someone who expects me to pay him back in full by the end of next year.

And his three Skills and Resources.

As a result of my conversion, I had been skilled in bible studies and have a cross on me. While I had been laid off of my job at accounting, I was given a “severance package” for a large sum of moneyfrom Mr. Giovanni. In the off time, I practiced my right to bear arms by going to the firing range and testing out a pistol I had recently bought with my boss.

And lastly, an immortal.

One day, I found myself feeling sick from a disease that had been undiscovered. There were rumors that this disease was prominently during the days of the Spanish Influenza, but to my end, all I could find was the remnants of a doctor who tried to cure the disease: Dr. Cullen. Overnight, it seemed he had disappeared… And I was stuck with what seems to be the sequel to the Spanish Influenza, to which I nickname Cullen’s Disease.

Now to make five memories:

  1. My name is Elijah Brown. I am a businessman working at one of Amazon’s offices. I was recently laid off due to circumstances beyond my control.
  2. Isabella is my wife. She’s a devout Christian and managed to convert me. As a result of my conversion, I had been skilled in bible studies and have a cross on me.
  3. While I had been laid off of my job at accounting, I was given a “severance package” for a large sum of money from Mr. Giovanni. He expects me to pay at the end of the fiscal year or else.
  4. My boss and I went to the firing range one day, though I had attempted to do so to get into his good graces.
  5. I have been infected with Cullen’s Disease, which makes my skin pale, almost translucent in the daylight to the point where it can easily burn my skin. The most I know is that it was made by Dr. Cullen a hundred years ago.

Right out of the gate, we have ourselves a protagonist, some NPCs, and even an overall goal of finding and ridding myself of Cullen’s Disease. Now, we may properly begin our game by rolling for a prompt.

What sets this apart from Plot Armor is that not only are there a ton of prompts, but also that each prompt has its own back up prompt in case you ever come across it again. It looks at the problem that Plot Armor presented and found a means to improve upon it. Now, I shouldn’t really compare Thousand-Year-Old Vampire to Plot Armor, as Plot Armor was a one page made for a game jam while Thousand-Year-Old Vampire is close to two hundred pages and was not made for any event in mind.

However, the two are similar in the premise I had brought up earlier: they chronicle the events of a doomed protagonist and the dangerous world they have been placed in. A comparison is sort of inevitable, especially if more games like these two (or the Beast and Holidays, which also does a similar “roll for a prompt” gameplay mechanic) come out. But that’s enough banter from me, let’s get to the prompting.

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Ravenloft, Chapter 1: The Executioner

So, a long while ago, I statted up a D&D character and had a decent campaign ahead of him. Now, allow me to return and give him the full treatment he deserves. His very own Ravenloft campaign. Not only that, but Philip is also getting played on Foundry, a program I had taken a look at, so that’ll be an interesting way to see how the game unfolds. This will be a review for how Foundry plays compared to Astral.

To briefly recap on his backstory: Philip is a druid who took on a job that ended in a werewolf being lynched by a xenophobic Burgomaster and Philip plots to kill him in revenge. He also recently pissed off some cultists after mucking about in one of their HQs, a house they turned into a death trap.

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Testing Out Astral With Micro Sci-Fi

So, during my fiddling around with both Astral and Foundry, I ended up having the urge to play games on them. As I mentioned in my previous post, Astral and Foundry have features that Roll20 cannot simply compete with. Astral is able to take any character sheet and turn it into a fully functional sheet you’d have on Roll20, while Foundry has community driven databases that power up some household games. In other words, use Astral for the lower-scale RPGs that Roll20 overlooks and use Foundry for the big-name RPGs that Roll20 doesn’t cater to enough.

 As such, I’m going to be playing a game on both these platforms, starting with Astral. You may recall from my previous post that I was experimenting with the character sheets feature using the Micro Chapbook Sci-Fi RPG. That’s the system we’re going to be playing around with.

The game takes its roots in OSR with a roll under system. Four stats for this game, Strength, Dexterity, Wits, and Charisma. You only have 7 points to spend, so I’m going with a rather beefy outset, 4 Strength and 1s in everything else. It’s one of only three point arrays that there are. The other ones would be 3, 2, and two 1s, or three 2s and a 1.

Next are the classes, of which there are four to compliment the four stats, as in making them proficient, which allows for rolling at disadvantage (or, I guess, advantage?). I’m taking the Strength-based one, the Soldier. The Soldier’s story is pretty simple. He’s called in when combat arrives on the doorstep. There’s also ranks, which add a +1 to your stat, so, in actuality, you have 8 points to spend. This varies up the point buy system by a bit, so what I’m going to do is have it be two 3s and two 1s. He’s in security and his name is Baul Plart.

Lastly, items. I got myself two pieces of armor that increase my health and willpower by two, and some rations to recover my health. With that, Baul Plart is going to embark on his first mission. The ship he was on has been hijacked by pirates and he has to save the hostages.

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Blue’s Clues, but Lovecraft wrote the episode

It’s time for me to make up for missing Halloween last year. This is One-Page Cthulhu, which is, you guessed it, one page. Perfect for a last-minute game! As for my Engine, it’ll be good ol’ CRGE-Kai, but with the Horror theme.

Right, time to slap my character together… My character’s really good at finding clues (+2), good at hiding (+1), is meh with forbidden knowledge (0) and is utterly terrible at fighting superior foes (-1). We will name him… Steve.

Oh… Oh God… I have an idea. Steve… from Blue’s Clues! But everyone’s an eldritch abomination!

Ooooooooh, okay. This is good. So, I ran an episode of Blue’s Clues to figure out what sort of plot is gonna happen (as well as remember how it goes), and I’ve decided that’ll be the adventure. Steve is a private eye who does investigations who recently came across a dog called Blue who helped in investigations. He is compelled to investigate the secrets of the world because there has to be more out there than just the wife concerned about a possible unfaithful husband. I’d say something about the connections to other investigators, but this is a solo story.

 So… Here… We… Go!

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Apocalypse’s Oracle (Part 2)

When we last left off Zero, he infiltrating the Horakthy, a hoverbarge. He noticed that its owner, Ra, has turned it into his own personal kitchen and cooking up humans. Ra kicked Zero’s ass and has left him to be cooked. As I said before, this will launch the next phase of the playtest, which explores the four tables I didn’t touch previously.

Two of these tables are for Dungeon and Hex Crawling, while the other two generate NPCs and Plot Points. For the context of this game, the Dungeon is the Horakthy and the Hexes are everything going on outside of it.

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Apocalypse’s Oracle (Part 1)

I’m going to be testing out the Apocalypse Oracle (made by archon1024 from Reddit’s Solo Roleplaying group) by using There Is No Spoon, much like how I used it to test CRGE. The idea I have is a hovercraft that’s operated by only two people. They’re a vigilante group seeking to discourage people from abusing the Matrix to their whims and desires. This is set sometime before the Matrix and perhaps around the time of the There is no Spoony Veteran game.

My character creation is simple. Two points to the Matrix Stat for 3 and four to make the Katana skill a 6. Zero’s Deal will be determined by the Oracle, which I shall now go into detail talking about.

The Oracle is designed in a sleek, ergonomic layout that echoes that of katamoiran’s RPGs. There’s only four pages and two of them are needed to use and play a game. The overall intent is to minimize as much flipping through pages as possible and compared to using Mythic or CRGE, it works efficiently.

For Mythic, I had to flip a page or two to get to Actions and Descriptors, but for Apocalypse Oracle, I just need to glance to the right side of the first page. It’s card-based resolution for the complex categories had me puzzled at first, but as I noticed how it ties in the suits to mean different things on top of the rank, it started to click.

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That Time I Had To Save Scientists From Rats But Got Killed By Zombies

While RPG Solo wasn’t the best at generating adventures, what got me hooked onto it was how well it kept my interest by offering an instant “copy to forum” option, which enabled me to paste into my Actual Play thread. The ease of how everything worked made me want more, and so, I made a second campaign under this system: Being an Energy Rider is Suffering. This was set during a zombie apocalypse, like the first full-fledged campaign I tried to run.

Unlike the other campaign though, this is your typical, run of the mill zombie virus infecting people. The big twist though is that zombies can be controlled. Unfortunately, these zombies are being controlled by gangs who would rather use these zombies for crimes. The only hope to stop them lies in the Sonic Arrow, a bow and arrow that has its frequencies tuned to the same kind that controls the zombies, thus overrides and even disables them.

This Sonic Arrow was made by Hope’s Peak, a scientist haven where they’re working round the clock to find a cure. The weapon is given to someone who found this zombie apocalypse thing to be the perfect excuse to try and be a hero.

I made this with a sort of time-keeping system in mind. The way it works is that I kept track of my character’s health, infection rate, food, the weather, the time remaining, and even fame. In my opinion, I liked this system a lot more than the simple hero ranking system, since there’s a lot more info to extrapolate from it.

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