Category Archives: roleplaying

Tokuemon Takedown [D&D 5e]

Tokuemon Takedown is the third, and final, session in the Yojimbo mission followed hot on the heels of the Silkworm Inn incident. Starting without pause where we left off the party gathered on the street outside.

Silkworm Inn with street context, it’s the black roofed building in the centre. The alley is to the right of the Inn. (Photo: James Kemp)

A crowd of potential helpers had arrived to put out the fire. As they assembled Harbek had created water inside the Silkworm Inn to dowse the flames. Kohei recognised Kanji, the town clerk of Yojimbo, in the crowd. They both played, and lost, regularly at Tokuemon’s table.

Rescuing Nui

Realising that they still needed to rescue Nui, Sator and Elgon sought out the alley to the side of the Silkworm to work round the back. Sator, being a halfling, lead, allowing Elgon to see over him and provide cover if necessary. On entering the Alley they found it blocked by an armoured human backed up by another human with a bow. This was communicated to the others.

Harbek and Zia decided to go long and outflank from the alley a couple of buildings to the right of the Silkworm. They set off at a run while Sator tried to establish why the men were blocking the alley.

The negotiations were brief. Sator was answered with an arrow, which narrowly missed him, Elgon and the crowd to bury itself at human head height in the Building across the street. Elgon reacted rapidly and used burning hands, scorching both humans and setting some of the rubbish in the alley on fire.

Kohei and Kanji followed up on the commotion in the alley in time to see the larger well armoured human charge Sator and jab him with a sword cut. Sator gave as good as he got, and Elgon used magic missile on the attacker. The bowman at the back shot at Kohei, sticking an arrow in him. Kohei also shot back, but missed.

Narrow Alley

Elgon realised that he was running out of spells, and stepped back. The alley was quite narrow and there wasn’t quite room for two abreast. Kanji healed Kohei a bit while Kohei traded shots with the bowman. Similarly Sator and the swordsman parried each others blows, although Sator got a bit home and drove the swordsman back down the alley.

From the side gate of the Silkworm Inn a third armoured person lead two horses, one with a suspicious package in a blanket tied over the saddle.

Sator and Kohei both shot the swordsman with their bows. Elgon used his last spell to magic missile the third warrior and both horses. The main effect of this was to panic both horses. This in turn caused as yet unseen horses in the Silkworm’s back courtyard to neigh loudly and rear up.

The brief panic bought enough time for Harbek and Zia to come running round the corner. Harbek lead with his flaming axe, and in one mighty blow cleaved the helmet on the third warrior in two. He fell to the ground in a spreading puddle of blood. This so demoralised the others that they immediately threw down their weapons.

Alley Aftermath

On closer inspection the ‘package’ on the second horse was found to be Nui. She had been tied and gagged before being carried downstairs and thrown over the horse. Interrogation of the prisoners, including the unfortunate third warrior who was healed, pointed the finger clearly at Tokuemon. On finding the Silkworm under attack and on fire they’d decided to evacuate to Tokuemon’s country house.

Realising that they weren’t expected to report in yet the party planned a surprise raid on Tokuemon’s country house. They decided to go in the middle of the night and rested up to await darkness.

Tokuemon’s Lair

The party rode out to Tokuemon’s place. They left Oroborus looking after the horses in a copse a couple of hundred yards from the edge of Tokuemon’s house. As you can see from the picture, the house is a grand affair, surrounded by a ten foot high wall. There are guard towers at each corner and a grand entrance with a guard box outside where it joins the main road into Yojimbo.

Neutralising the guards

Sator and Kohei crept up to the guardhouse to take out the guard, bows in hand. The plan was to be as silent as possible. This worked up until Kohei walked into a bush. This alerted the guard, who came out of the guard post to investigate. Sator and Kohei froze, and the guard peered into the darkness shining his lantern around.

The guard was clearly silhouetted against the whitewashed walls of the compound. When he turned to go back to his post both Sator and Kohei loosed arrows at him. Two arrows struck home, followed rapidly by two more. The guard fell to the floor with a clatter. Sator and Kohei tensed. Had anyone heard the guard’s fall?

They listened carefully, but all appeared silent. They waited a few moments longer before Sator snuck forward. Kohei couldn’t hear anything, and Sator established that there was a light coming from a room inside the gatehouse. Closing one eye to protect his night vision Sator went closer. Snores could be heard from within.

Sator slid silently to the door and felt the key in the back of the lock. He gently eased it out, closed the door behind him and then locked it. Taking the key he went back out to signal the others to join them.

Gaining Entry

Sator lead the party into Tokuemon’s compound. Wary in the silence and darkness lest there was an ambush lurking, they slid from tree to tree on the outside of the drive. Checking out the front they decided that a rear entry would be safer.

They worked their way quietly around the back of the building. Sator picked the lock to open the kitchen door. Inside the house was silent and still. A short muffled debate sprang up when Zia wanted to collect snacks for later. She was overruled.

The grand double height dining hall was next. The table was bare, and seats stacked on top of it. Cushions protecting the table top. Moonlight filtered through the windows, the curtains all still tied back.

From there it was Tokuemon’s Parlour, with the gaming table so familiar to Kohei and Kanji. After that it was the entrance hall, and up the stairs to the tower where Tokuemon had his personal quarters.

Tokuemon Appears

The entrance hall was stone flagged with carpets in the main walkway. It also had stone walls and a smooth plastered ceiling. To the left of the main door as you came in was a grand staircase, with a landing as it turned right. This was opposite the wide doorway into the Parlour.

As the party came into the darkened hallway they became aware of Tokuemon standing on the landing. When they were all in the hallway he asked what they were doing in his house in the middle of the night?

Kohei replied “You kidnapped my sister, and I’m here to make you pay”.

Tokuemon smiled.

No! Fireball!

The party tried their best to dodge, but it was rather an enclosed space. The carpets and wall hangings burst into flames, illuminating the space. Several of the party were left reeling, if Tokuemon got a second chance it would be their last.

Harbek shot Tokuemon, a good shot from his bow that went home. Tokuemon reacted without thinking and sent a lightning bolt from his fingertip to Harbek. Harbek writhed in pain, it was almost more than he could cope with. Despite this the others shot arrows into Tokuemon. Even with five arrows sticking out of him he just laughed at them.

Harbek summoned up the last of his energy and cast Hold Person on Tokuemon. His laughter faded as he struggled vainly to escape. Most of the others shot arrows into Tokuemon.

Zia took the moment to hit the button on the lightning javelin she’d found. Not sure what to expect. A blinding flash and a burning smell accompanied a loud tearing sound as lightning joined the staff to Tokuemon. No longer held by the spell Tokuemon was propelled into the wall behind him. He fell limply onto the floor.

Determined to get revenge Harbek launched himself up the stairs and removed Tokuemon’s head with his flaming axe before he could recover.

Tokuemon’s Treasure

Having taken down Tokuemon the party had a look round his house.

In the private quarters they found a number of interesting items

  • A scroll with a spell written on it
  • A mysterious potion in a glass bottle
  • A bag of beans
  • A handy haversack
  • An interesting cube
  • A ring
  • A light hammer
  • A short sword

In the Parlour there were several works of art, and also a load of cash, mainly in gold and silver.

Silkworm Inn catches fire [D&D 5e]

Fire in the Silkworm Inn is the next part of the Yojimbo D&D campaign following on from Taking Yoichiro Home. Having been bailed out of the local jail, and recruited Kohei to help find Nui the group assemble in the town square to discuss their next moves. The local constabulary keep a close eye on them, and Inokichi appears to have a beef with the brewery guards across the square. Under the watchful eye of the constables he is persuaded to save it for another day.

Silkworm Inn

SIlkworm eating a Mulberry Leaf
Silkworm eating a mulberry leaf (image: Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay)

Using Kohei’s local knowledge the group decide to go seek Tokuemon at the Silkworm Inn. He owns a chunk of it and is known to frequent the plush back room of the Silkworm, where he gambles with Kohei (and others). Oroborus decided to wait outside in case there was any trouble. She’d call the others if there was any problem.

The Silkworm Inn was relatively quiet, six regulars were in, all known to Kohei at least by sight. The bouncer was stood by the door to the back room and a barkeep was behind the bar. The group, less Oroborus, ordered drinks at the bar and then took a table in the middle.

Collecting Information

Kohei used the time while the drinks were being poured to chat to a friend and ask about his sister Nui. His friend was nervous about sharing info, but said that he’d heard Nui was back in town. When pressed by Kohei about where she might be he said he ought not to tell, and that Kohei couldn’t tell anyone how he knew, but looking upstairs in the Silkworm Inn might be fruitful.

Sator asked the barkeep about Nui while she was serving up the drinks. He was told Nui was away in the bid city, and that stories she’d been kidnapped were just that, stories. All the while the barkeep looked frequently at the bouncer, and gave the impression of sticking to a script. Needless to say Sator wasn’t convinced by her denials.

Zia chatted to a man at the corner of the bar and asked if he knew anything about the back room and what was upstairs. The man was pretty free with information. He told her that the rich folks, like what Zia obviously was, drank in the back. It was much nicer than the common room, but was about four times the price. She asked about Tokuemon and was told that he often came in, always out the back. On being asked if anyone was out the back Zia was told that there were about four or five people, plus Gonji (the Landlord).

Making for the Back Room

The group sat at their table and had a quiet drink while sharing the information that they’d picked up. Kohei shared that the bouncer was only there to keep the riffraff out from the back. So they decided to go through when they finished their drinks. As they were drinking up Gonji came into the common room from the back room. He took one look at the group, and then whispered something to the bouncer before retiring back through the door.

The group took that as their cue to follow and downed their drinks. When the bouncer realised that they were coming for the back room he banged his club on the door and shouted for backup. The group carried on walking up to him, trying not to look threatening. A somewhat drunk dwarf, sitting near the door to the back room got up and swore at them. The other regulars hurriedly finished their drinks and paid attention to the door.

Bar fight

The drunk dwarf said he was going to kill the $@!* elf. So help him gods. Drawing his sword he lunged at Elgon. Thankfully he was so drunk that all he managed to do was throw the sword across the room, missing Elgon. Sator, who was leading on the way to the door, ducked under a table. This was just as well as the bouncer lunged at him with his club, but missed owing to Sator ducking out of the way. The helpful man at the bar decided to join in the fight and hit Zia over the head with his empty glass. Without thinking Zia spun round and hit him with the flat of her great axe, dazing him.

Harbek spun round too turning on his flaming axe. He pre-emptively hit a dwarf that was going for a club from under the table. This didn’t prevent the dwarf from retaliating. Kohei was grabbed by his friend and they hid between the tables. One of the other patrons also hid between another set of tables when he saw the fight start. The last stood and watched from near the door, as did the barkeep. Elgon shot a magic missile at the drunk dwarf, who wasn’t noticeably affected by it.

Oroborus heard the commotion from outside and came into the bar. As he did the human at that end of the bar hit him with a pewter tankard, spilling beer all over her. Oroborus retaliated, pushing the human into a nearby table and knocking him off balance. Zia traded more blows with the man that attacked her, leaving him unconscious on the floor. Harbek put his opponent down too, and turned towards the back. The barkeep ducked below the bar.

Silkworm Inn burns

At the back of the Silkworm’s common room things escalated. The drunken dwarf persisted in trying to hit Elgon, despite being too drunk for co-ordination. Elgon, frustrated that magic missile hadn’t taken the dwarf out, and worried he was about to be physically assaulted, resorted to Burning Hands. In his panic Elgon put his maximum effort into it.

Unable to dodge the drunken dwarf took the full force of burning hands from Elgon. He also got hit in the rear as it bounced off the stone rear wall of the Silkworm’s common room. Elgon, surprised by the rebound, also took the full force of the cone of fire. The bouncer, Sator, Kohei and his friend all managed to dodge the blast, although got lightly singed despite cover from the benches and dodging. The barkeep popped up from behind the bar with her crossbow as soon as the cone of fire stopped. She hit Elgon square in the back with a bolt. It’s possible the only thing that kept Elgon on his feet was being hit from both sides!

Fleeing the Fire

Most of the people in the bar decided it was time to leave. Oroborus’s opponent pushed past him and ran out the door, with Oroborus in hot pursuit. The drinker hiding between the tables in the middle of the room also dashed for the door. Kohei’s friend crawled under the tables to avoid the melee at the end of where he was hiding. The bouncer took a swing with his club at Elgon as he dashed past. It was a lucky hit, connecting with a sickening crunch. Elgon dropped to the floor. Kohei rolled to put the fire on his clothes out and stop the burning. Everyone else conscious went for the door.

When Kohei rolled back up he spotted Elgon on the floor and dragged him to the door of the Silkworm. Slowed by dragging Elgon, Kohei met Harbek at the door, when Harbek came back in to dowse the flames by creating water above them. This successfully doused the fire.

Smoking Silkworm

Outside Orobus strung his longbow and took aim at his fleeing opponent. The cry of ‘Fire!’ went up and people started running. Sator checked the two patrons that hadn’t been involved in the fight were OK, he then went with them to get buckets and water. Kohei attempted to revive Elgon, but without success. Elgon was too badly injured for his healing words to have any effect.

The bouncer and Zia decided that the fight was over and also went to get help for firefighting. Oroborus shot the fleeing man in the back, he fell face down in the street some distance away from the tavern.

Many townsfolk and the local constable arrived with buckets, ladders and a pump. Just in time to find out that Harbek had put the fire out.

[To be continued…]


Taking Yoichiro Home [D&D 5e]

This is a write up of a D&D 5e session titled Taking Yoichiro Home which is part of a mini-campaign being run for Alexander and his friends.

Taking Yoichiro Home

So last time round you found Yoichiro, the son of Seibei, and persuaded him to go home with you to see his dad before he dies. So it’s time to take Yoichiro and his very beautiful (by dwarf standards) girlfriend Nui to the town of Yojimbo, two days ride away from the big city. Yojimbo is 2 days normal travel to the southwest, but you can do it in one day if you push the horses

On the way you spot a burning village on the horizon several miles off to the East as you are riding SW. Zia and Oroborus can also see other riders making for the village from the city, so you decide to carry on towards Yojimbo. When you stop for lunch you notice that Nui is looking worried.  She tells you that she’s worried about whether her parents will be happy, because she ran off to be with Yoichiro without getting permission

Arrival at Yojimbo

After dropping Yoichiro at his parents home, and leaving Nui to go to her folks, you spend some of the evening mooching about town trying to talk to people and find out rumours. Afterwards you gather in the common room in the Silkworm Tavern and share what you find. You’ve discovered that:

  • Seibei is the richest man in town, and that he is in partnership with the local mayor (Tazaemon) as silk merchants.
  • His right hand man, Ushitori (a human) has recently fallen out with Seibei because Ushitori was hoping to take over the silk merchant business when Seibei died.
  • Nui’s brother has lost loads of money to Tokuemon, the local brewery owner.
  • Tazaemon, the mayor, is a dwarf and also a silk merchant.

You all get a  good night’s sleep and wake up to find that it is market day in the town. There are stalls being set up in the square with a whole host of farming goods. The primary business in the town is silk farming, there’s a single large silk merchant business, and several weavers and silk farmers supporting it. About half of the fields in the couple of miles around the town were mulberry trees, The rest had a mix of crops,

Collecting Rumours

Other rumours, collected after breakfast amongst those in for the market:

  • The local constable, Hansuke (a human) is completely useless, and never intervenes.
  • The hardest fighter in town is Inokichi, but he’s pretty dense
  • Someone broke into the brewery warehouse last night, but nothing was taken.
  • Seibei appears to have made a dramatic recovery
  • Seibei is about to die any minute
  • Seibei is scheming to buy out the brewery so that he owns the whole town
  • Ushitori wants his friend Tokuemon to be the mayor
  • Tazaemon (the current mayor) is losing the plot, yesterday he thought his horse was on the council
  • There’s a room at the back of the Silkworm where you can pay 100 gold pieces and you know what…
  • Hansuke likes dwarf women better than human women
  • Isuzu, Seibei’s wife, is a sorceress and uses mind control spells to make people do what is best for Seibei
  • Yoichiro ran away because he was scared of Kohei (Nui’s brother)
  • Yoichiro ran away because his dad beat him senseless
  • Yoichiro ran away because Ushitora beat him up and threatened to kill him
  • Yoichiro ran away because Tazaemon bought him out
  • Yoichiro didn’t run away, Nui’s parents kidnapped him and had him sent to the mines to stop him courting their daughter. They did the same with their daughter too

While you are having lunch Yoichiro arrives in the Silkworm Tavern, and asks if you’ve seen Nui? She wasn’t at her parents house, and they didn’t see her last night. After some discussion the group splits up, one part to see Nui’s parents and the other to speak to the local constable.

Facts about Nui’s Disappearance

Hansuke, the constable, is eating his lunch at a table just outside the Silkworm tavern.  When he finishes eating Harbek unexplainedly picks a fight with him and ends up unconscious on the floor after hitting Hansuke once with his flaming axe. Orobus attempts to get revenge, but is taken down by a single strike from Hansuke’s halberd.  Hansuke then decides that Elgon is looking well dodgy and thumps him on the head with his baton, making Elgon collapse to the floor. Yoichiro steps in and stops Hansuke from going any further. The three unconscious ones are carried over to the town hall for healing and time in the cells….

Meanwhile, over at Nui’s parents house….

Zia and Sator knock the door. It is opened by a dwarf. Door is about four feet tall. Nui’s mum answers the door. You find out that she definitely hasn’t seen Nui for 2.5 months. Zia asks about Kohei, Nui’s brother, and with a bit of intimidation you find out that he works all hours in the smithy, but that despite this he can’t afford to get his own place and still lives with his parents.

Confirming Stories

So over to the forge in the market square to see Kohei.
Kohei has been told that Tokuemon’s friends have Nui, but he didn’t believe them. They said they’d hold her until he paid up. He doesn’t know you guys well enough, so he wants confirmation from Yoichiro that Nui came here. At the tavern you get directed over to the town hall to find Yoichiro and your friends

In the Town Hall the local cleric has healed everyone and woken them up. Yoichiro has smoothed things over with the authorities and paid a fee for your continued good behaviour.  Harbek just wants to settle with Yoichiro and leave town. However the others agree that Nui has been kidnapped and they should help free her. Tokuemon knows who holds her because he sent Kohei a message. Kohei needs 10,000 Gold Pieces to get his sister free.

New Megagamer Advice

My ten year old son is about to become a Megagamer. We are scheduled to play in two Megagame Maker games later this year. So I’ve been thinking about how to ensure that his first games are fun. Part of that is to ensure that he is engaged. He’s going because he has asked to, not because I’ve made him come. That’s my first bit of advice for a new Megagamer. Play because you want to.

My experience as a megagamer

It’s a long time since I became a megagamer. My first megagame was Death of Fascism, at the Staff College in Camberley. There were over 100 players and dozens of umpires. I was a junior staff officer in OKH, I never saw most of the other players except in the plenary briefings. I do recall being involved in the arrest and court martial of Jodl for failing to obey orders. I also recall the controversial Hitler order to shorten the line to introduce a reserve. It was so good that I signed up for every other megagame going. To date I’ve done about 75, almost a third of them as control. I’ve also seen them being designed and contributed bits to a handful of games. I even have a couple of unplayed megagame designs.

I’ve learnt a lot from being a megagamer. It has helped me refine my negotiating skills, improved my rapid analysis ability, and helped in dealing with difficult people (NB mostly they aren’t really difficult, but they can present that way as part of the game). I’ve also had a lot of fun, and I’ve not ever felt that it was hard work.

Advice for a new megagamer

You’ll already have had the advice from the megagame makers site. It’s the official word on advice for the new megagamer. What follows is my personal executive summary, I’ll try and expand on them if I have time.

Here are some bullets to bear in mind when you play in your first few megagames

  • Megagames are all about people interacting, so you need to talk to lots of people during the game.
  • Make everything you do about achieving your objectives
  • Help other people to achieve their objectives, megagames work best as team games
  • Always look like a hard target, even when you are not
  • Don’t make threats you can’t carry out (although once you have a reputation you can play on it)
  • An adequate plan robustly implemented will do better than optimising, and probably get you inside other players decision loop
  • When you need to take someone down finish them off quickly to remove the threat of retaliation, they’ll get another interesting role
  • read the briefings before the game to understand the mechanics and the period, it will enable you to make good decisions rapidly on the day
  • the megagame waits for no-one, so get moving and engage it

Got any other advice for a new megagamer? Remember your first time and want to share? Leave a comment.

More advice for a new megagamer

East End Explosions

I’ve been exploring the world of Perfects with some friends by running a roleplaying session with the Full Moon games group playing the senior officers of a police counter-terrorism group. More details on Operation Hawkeye. I couldn’t resist writing some press stories as a result of the session.

20440421 Terror RaidEast Ended!

Brave cops foil GM terror group in dawn raid.

Silverton residents were woken by automatic gunfire and a bomb blast as terrorists fought off a police raid. Brave officers stormed through a hail of fire to take out the terrorists. One terrorist was confirmed killed by police, although not before two officers were wounded. Another is believed to have blown themself up in a suicide bombing.

Commander Coalfield, the Counter Terror Chief, called on citizens to lookout for accomplices to the GM terrorists that may have escaped.

Forensic teams are scouring the scene for clues to where the explosives and firearms came from and any evidence that will keep the suspects behind bars.

Silverton Siege

[TV report – starting with a press conference with a senior female police officer in her early 40s]

Commander Coalfield “Acting on confirmed intelligence officers of CT conducted simultaneous raids on properties in London, supported by other emergency services and the Metropolitan Police Service. The intelligence received indicated that a group of genetically modified individuals were planning a terror campaign in central London in an attempt to over-turn the provisions of the Genetically Modified Humans Act. This campaign was intended to intimidate ordinary people as well as Members of Parliament.

Our sources suggested that the group in question were well funded and had secured weapons and know-how from overseas. We therefore acted promptly to deal with this threat. My officers were just in time, and we discovered an armed terror cell of genetically modified individuals in the process of preparing for an attack. On gaining entry to the house armed CT officers were met by automatic gunfire. Undeterred they pressed home their entry, which resulted in several officers becoming casualties. Some of these casualties were caused by a suicide bombing, we know from studies that the genetically modified are prone to suicide.

[cut to helmet camera footage from a police officer in the entry team]

[Police Drones drop to window height, switch on bright lights and the speakers blast “POLICE – LIE DOWN AND STAY STILL” on a loop. Two officers pound the door open with an entry e. A tense moment passes as the door initially resisted being opened. Immediately between the camera and the door opening team are a constable and an officer with Chief Inspector rank insignia on the rear of the helmet.

The door opens and the constable and the Chief Inspector rapidly enter. Shots ring out and the leading constable falls. The group pause just inside the doorway, more shots are heard. Two flashbangs are thrown into the next room.

Seconds pass, then two loud bangs. The Chief Inspector leads through a hail of gunfire, to camera police officer falls in the doorway. The view cuts to another camera, the Chief Inspector is seen to fire twice as the terrorist brings the weapon up. Then the ceiling collapses. ]

[Back to the press conference]

Fortunately our officers were all well protected and three of the five are expect to return to duty very soon. Two others remain in hospital under medical supervision, both are expected to make a full recovery. One terrorist was killed, we believe another blew themself up and we have three others in custody. It is possible that they have accomplices in other locations and I am calling on the public to remain vigilant and report suspicious behaviour immediately.”

East End Explosionsnewspaper

Police released dramatic footage earlier today of the raid on an East London property where a terror cell was caught red handed preparing an atrocity. The first police officer into the terraced house was felled by automatic gunfire, an un-named Chief Inspector braved the hail of fire to shoot the armed terrorist. Moments later another member of the terror cell detonated a suicide bomb they had been preparing for Central London, taking the roof off the house and setting it on fire. A second armed terrorist also fired on officers entering from a different route.

Five police officers required medical attention. Three terrorists are in custody. It is thought that there may be other members of the terror cell and the public are asked to keep a careful watch for suspicious activity.

The National Police Counter-Terror Commander, told a press briefing that the attacks were an attempt to over-turn the Genetically Modified Humans Act. Two of those in custody have already been confirmed to be genetically modified and tests are under way on the others involved.

The scene at the house is one of utter devastation, two blasts are understood to have ripped through the house. The first in the attic space which police have confirmed was from a mix of high explosives and at least one incendiary device. A second later explosion is believed to be a residual gas explosion from damaged pipes set off by the fire. Both neighbouring houses were also damaged and the residents have been evacuated. Police forensic teams are still on the scene and are expected to remain for several days.

A215 Short Fiction: Daprav – A Creation Myth

As part of my Creative Writing course I need to write a short story for my next assignment. So rather than racking my brains about it I’ve been going back over stuff I’d written, but not finished, in the past for some inspiration. I also plan to do the exercises in the book to see what that sparks up too. Anyway I was looking through my role-playing archives and went through a fantasy game I used to run where I made up all of the setting myself rather than using a published one (there are about 17k words on this, and on top of that a stack of index cards). I was rather taken by the creation myth I wrote for the primary god in a theocracy.


It is important to distinguish between Daprav Himself and the Church, which forms the bulk of his worshippers. Daprav is an active paternalistic God by inclination. He favours wandering amongst his people in disguise, perhaps to keep an eye on them. He is also known for speaking to His prophets in the heart of their soul, although He is not above manifesting should those prophets need a major miracle performing.

The worshippers of Daprav don’t have faith, they have knowledge. The evidence of His existence is a daily phenomenon. His priests work many miracles and are enjoined to look after the flock, tending the ill and feeding the hungry. This is tempered with an injunction on the people to obey the word of Daprav, and by extension of the priesthood.

In the beginning…

Daprav is the creator of the world and all the things in it. He did this a very long time ago and spent many millennia wandering through it revelling in the beauty of his creation. He taught the early men a great deal and established many temples, each bearing slight differences according to the aspects he displayed to the tribe that built the temple. However all men were one in their devotion to Daprav and he was able to ensure that there was no strife.

One day whilst hunting with the Obor Tribe in the great fastness of the Green Forest Daprav came across an enchanted grove. This intrigued Him as He had not enchanted the grove nor had any of the priests that He had empowered with his miracles. Entering the grove He called out to its enchanter. Out from behind a tree stepped a powerful sorceror. Daprav commanded him to speak his name.

“I am known as Hapt and I was born to work magic”.

Others also stepped out from behind other trees numbering thirteen in total. They also spake their names:

“Temed, the giver of gifts” a female holding a box;

“Mistear, an archer of great repute” a slim young woman knocking an arrow to her longbow;

“Miral, the killer of many” an older male with many scars on his body and a huge axe;

“Dado, an enchanter, I created this grove” a bearded man in white robes with a golden sickle;

“Fabrius, also a creator of magics” a youth short in stature and stocky with it;

“Eubulus, a singer of songs and a teller of tales” a young man in patched clothes and holding a set of pipes;

“Aulos, the healer of wounds” a woman wearing white with braided blonde hair;

“Horin, the lover of all” a full-breasted woman with red lips and a jar of wine;

Mousai, protector of the innocent” a man clad in armour from head to foot;

Drok, the joker” a mischevious looking youngster dressed all in red;

“Valdese, a brave and gallant warrior” tall, dark and handsome, a man to break the hearts of many a maiden, and to carry off the souls of men in battle;

Ojibwa, a thief and a damned good one” a medium sized woman with a lithe look to her movements as she stepped out from behind the tree.

“Why have you enchanted this grove? And why are you all here?” Daprav asked.

“We want to be Gods also, and you have the means to make that so.” Answered Hapt who appeared to be their leader. “We are the foremost amongst our kind and desire to share your divinity. Will you give it to us?”.

“No. This cannot be so. You must go from here and forever banish any thought of elevating yourselves to godhood”.

“If you will not co-operate then we shall take it from you.”

And with that the thirteen worked their magic as they had planned. They cast a spell on Daprav the like of such has never before or since been seen. Their careful preparations however went awry. Instead of stealing the Divinity from Daprav they instead put him into an endless slumber. They were able to visit the world as spirits and speak unto the people thereon, but were forever banished as punishment for attempting to make themselves Gods.

Had Daprav not been sent into a deep sleep He would have been able to counter their dealings with the various tribes and prevent the strife that was to come to His perfect creation. Each of the thirteen brought their own gift to the world, and with it some corruption of the people. Over the years the tribes formed their own sects and religions as the memory of Daprav was corrupted and forgotten. In time all living people had forgotten of Daprav’s very existence. However He continued to exist, trapped in the sacred grove.

After about two millennia the growth of the tribes had reduced the Green Forest to a fraction of its former size and brought the grove from the depths to its very edge. He appeared in a dream to His prophet Reatham who was sleeping nearby. Reatham was a hunter and Daprav placed images of plentiful game in his dreams along with clues to the location of the grove. Reatham found his way to the grove and woke Daprav.

After such a long hibernation Daprav was weak and required sustenance to build His strength back to its former glory. However with no followers or temples He could not gain strength from sacrifices. Reatham went out amongst the people and preached to them about the goodness of Daprav. However not all was well with the world. The spirits of the thirteen were still strong and afraid that an awakened Daprav would take revenge on them stirred up the people to act against Daprav’s supporters.

Reatham was killed by an angry mob incited by the spirit of Miral. The mob were persuaded that Reatham was enthralled by an evil spirit that meant to destroy the livelihood of the town. It was all Daprav could do to avoid being torn apart himself. After escaping from the mob He travelled about the world gradually building up strength and itinerant followers one by one. After some time He spoke to Rontium and commanded that he feed the poor and homeless in his district and to tell them that the food came from Daprav.

Strengthened by the prayers of the faithful Daprav was able to regain some of His powers and perform minor miracles. Many of the worshippers didn’t realise that He was the deity and instead thought Him to be a priest of Daprav, so diminished was His power. One believer who saw Him truly was Anley, a lay healer. She helped and healed the sick in His name. This boosted His following still further and in time restored more of His powers.

It was about this time that the worship of Daprav became the main religion in the small town of Balham, now known as Templeton. With the growth of His following He was able to stand up to the spirits of the thirteen and make overt use of His powers to protect Balham. It was about this time that the Duke of the District was persuaded by the spirit of Miral to destroy Balham and kill all of the people living there. He gathered his forces and attacked the town.

Daprav called down a lightening bolt from the heavens and smote the Duke from his saddle. Many of the disheartened troops fled, although many others switched sides and pledged their allegiance to Daprav, including Earl Shabas who vowed his life to the God to atone for his previous wrongs against the people of Daprav. Daprav heard the oath and granted him the name of Sir Waldo with His blessing and the ability to heal the wounds of others simply by laying his hands on the afflicted part. Sir Waldo went on to lead his men to glory in the wars of independence that the Church of Daprav fought with those misguided by the spirits. 

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Another side of the COIN

I ran my game of being an Afghan farmer “The Other Side of the COIN” at the Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group’s (CLWG) annual conference yesterday afternoon. This was its second outing, you can see my onside report from the first run here.

Since the last outing the game has developed further to address some of the comments that the players made then. In particular I had a set of individual objective cards to drive some behaviours and give the players something to focus on that was essentially different each time the game gets played (and also makes the farmers all slightly different from each other, there is a danger that they all do the same thing). The other advantage of the cards is that it stops a purely economic rationality setting in immediately and just converting to grow poppy (because the income levels from this are a couple of orders of magnitude higher that any other sort of crops – the real reason that the Afghans grow so much opium).

Another development was the introduction of a set of cards to represent improvements or capabilities that the farmers can invest in. for example, securing a fuel supply, or building schools etc. These were supposed to form a pyramid of improvement, in that each of the items was allocated a level, and to buy a level 2 improvement then you need to support that with two level 1 improvements. Some of the improvements had pre-requisites, but apart from that it was simply building your pyramid that counted. Each improvement had some icons on the bottom that told you what sort of improvement it was, whether it benefited the whole community or just an individual. It also told you whether or not it promoted the Islamic lifestyle and/or used fuel. The individual briefings, and the farming mechanics, remained completely unchanged from the previous run of the game. I also didn’t get an opportunity to properly document some of the changes.

The improvements were all documented on the cards I produced, and there was a price list to make it easier to know what was available. In this run of the game the valley was a lot more peaceful. We played through two years of farming and in that time two of the four played farmers decided to grow opium, one on a small scale (a couple of fields) and the other as his major crop. In addition there was a bumper crop on the first summer.  This injected quite a lot of money into the game, and so resulted in some significant improvements in the town, a new well and a Madrassa were established as well as regular fuel & medical supplies and a specialist seed supply.  A shortage of time and players meant that there wasn’t any external tension to make different decisions about things, and the local cleric focussed on good works (establishing the water supply and madrassa from the funds raised).

Lessons learnt from this session:

  • the amount of money needs some careful calculation and appropriate denomination notes produced to make it easy to count out the correct sums;
  • the farming mechanisms need to be significantly streamlined to make them work faster, and the task allocation piece removed (or at least built into other mechanisms unobtrusively) as it wasn’t a real constraint on activity;
  • I need longer than two hours to run the game, at least double that, and I also need more players, at least seven, with clearer briefing for the police and the taliban as well as an external agent to foment trouble (or be the catalyst for it);
  • the mechanisms need to be properly collected into a well signposted reference document, ideally quite short. There also needs to be a revision of the play aid for farmers to put all the key mechanics on it.
  • I need a mechanism (or at least a trigger) for involving external authority in the area should there be a widespread growth of poppy. So some research on the eradication programmes and their timings would be useful.

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Ars Magica – Lumen

Recently Lumen has been on a trip to Waddenzee with several of her friends from the covenant at Triamore. (See for the write up).

From her perspective the journey was mostly uneventful apart from:

  • premonitions of the attack on the ship they were using (during which she mostly made attackers fall asleep);
  • some searching on a swamp near Waddenzee where she realised that she could spontaneously cast to power the punt they were using; she also made a bird;
  • the visit to Waddenzee itself, where she rescued one of the local women from ill use, employing her as a second maid;
  • a night excursion just on the mainland on return where a lot of time was spent searching in the dark for a particularly unpleasant creature, which was later found to be called a Lamia.

So what does Lumen take from all that experience? Before she went off she had a desire to learn to read Greek, she also had some fondness for getting out and meeting people between her winter study sessions. So she has spent the journey up getting to know something of the places she has been. A little of that will also have been reflection on her Parma as she was going to visit a covenant that may have been unfriendly. She also spent a three encounters searching for things (two of those in the dark) and she spontaneously cast at least three spells. On the way back she spent some significant time trying to communicate with her new maid, so some language skills there. She also used her second sight.

So her autumn/winter study priorities are likely to be:

  • learn to read greek;
  • read some sort of bestiary to find out more about lamia (and similar sorts of creatures);
  • read up on parma magica, ignem and terram (in that order)
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The library of Triamore: Mundane tractatus

Last night I joined in with Simon Cornelius’s Ars Magica campaign. My character is a female Mage (aka Maga) called Lumen, she’s a younger daughter of a French baron in the early thirteenth century. Blond, blue-eyed and slightly elfin like, the picture I have in my head of what she looks like is of the actress Laura Harris.

Lumen is current a visitor to the Triamore Covenant and brought some books with her in exchange for being allowed access to their library. She appears to be in her early thirties and has not yet settled down and got her own lab yet. Her primary interest is in learning her arts better by reading up, followed by a little practise. She prefers Spring and Summer and gets a little sad in the winter time, being a sunshine sort of person.

Apart from socialising a little with the mages of the Covenant at meal times she spent most of the time in the library reading a book called “The Four Humours” which taught her a fair amount about Corpus.

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CLWG December 1999

What you missed at the Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group (CLWG) December 1999 meeting.

English: Wreckage of a Fairley Battle shot dow...
English: Wreckage of a Fairley Battle shot down by the Wehrmacht, France, on May 1940. Deutsch: Trümmer einer von der Wehrmacht im Mai 1940 in Frankreich abgeschossenen Fairley Battle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The CLWG December 1999 meeting started from 12 at John Rutherford’s house and we played until after 9pm. Afterwards we chatted, with the aid of several bottles of wine, until almost midnight. In total we had 13 members at the meeting. It started with a fairly light-hearted game called ‘Battling Druids‘ which was originally designed by Trevor Farrant as a participation game for wargames shows for another club that he is a member of. This involves four 100mm models of druids, four fountains, a cloud with a lighting bolt, hordes of hedges, magic spells and a whole lot of fun.

A sergeant air-gunner mans his Vickers 'K' gun...
A sergeant air-gunner mans his Vickers ‘K’ gun from the rear cockpit of a Fairey Battle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Next up was an RAF Aircrew RPG which I ran with the help of a couple of others. This involved the layers creating themselves characters, setting off in their Fairey Battles and hamming it up big style. Every stereotype was there, from the Australian bush pilot (who was a real-life Quantas Jumbo Jet pilot) to the terrible ex-public schoolboy who drove his Morgan nearly as fast as the aircraft. All the players ended up in enemy hands (what do you expect when you take a Fairey Battle to bomb a bridge in Maastricht?) They were separated, interrogated and then combined in a prison camp (except for the Aussie who broke out and ran for it like a man).

This led us nicely into our next game from Jerry, which was set in a POW camp near the Swiss border in the later part of 1944. It was based on one of the exercises that the regular army uses to test its potential officers reasoning ability. We split into two groups for this, and although both groups came up with reasonable plans neither of us managed to get the ‘DS solution’ which is what the army consider to be the correct answer. Admittedly the set problem does tie your hands a bit and railroads you towards a sub-optimal solution (at least in my view). This also ran alongside another session of the ‘Battling Druids’.

Next up was the club quiz, run by me. It came in two parts. The first part was where I asked people ten questions about their ideal game, its title, what it would feature, what it wouldn’t feature, where it was set, its subject and who the dream designer would be and a couple of other things too. The interval was filled by Chinese takeaway and some wine. After that I read out the answers to each of he questions and people had to guess who had written which answers. Given the rather silly nature of some answers (e.g. one of the games was titled something like “Manchurian Kung-Fu Space Marines vs. Psycho-Alien Death Nazis from Mars”, another called “Charles & Die” – about the English Civil War naturally) this was a highly amusing game where people were accused of all sorts of things.

After the club quiz things degenerated further into hilarity with a game of Starship Marine. The game was different from normal because each player had to write down what actions the player on their left did (which rotated round the table each turn). When you got the bit of paper telling you what had just happened you announced what you wanted your character to do next (and hopefully the person who was writing down what actually happens was listening to you). This game involved teddy bears, VR porn, scantily clad women, large alien robots, leaking steam, a system failure in a suit of powered armour, accidental grenade throwing and a host of other improbable and hilarious outcomes that wouldn’t normally have happened in one of our usual games using the rules.

All that happened after that was that we sat around and talked for an hour or so before deciding that we had to leave to get last buses/trains/etc home. In all it was a good session.