22 May 2016

Shadow of the Demon Lord: The Flagellant Penitent

I know this isn't the right one but listen, I like this demon lord
I'm currently gathering players for Shadow of the Demon Lord. If there's any chance you haven't heard of it, it's what you'd get if you took 20+ years of D&D experience, a heavy Warhammer Fantasy influence, and then made a game out of it. If I sound impressed, that's because I am. Only time will tell, but reading it makes me wonder how somebody got inside of my skull and wrote down exactly what I wanted.

Anyways, the best way to learn a system is to generate a character and then look at how you're supposed to build adventures, so here we go.

Creating a Character

Choosing a Race

Since I'm a boring kind of person, I'm going to pick Human. There are pretty good race options, and each is distinct. Humans, as usual, are sort of generic. At level 4 get either a spell or the ability to be lucky once in a while. Changelings are vulnerable to iron, can see in the dark and can steal identities. At level 4 they can steal identities and freak people out in combat.Clockwork are golems, sort of, and occasionally break and turn back into objects (so they need somebody to hang around and restart them periodically). Dwarves are short, can see in the dark, hate a certain type of creature, and are resistant to poison. Goblins are folklore forest fairies and are super sneaky and vulnerable to iron. Orcs are a tough, recently emancipated slave race.

Everybody knows Humans are the best, so I write down my stats. I don't know what I want my human attribute bonus to be, so I save it for later.

Random Tables

I roll a couple times on the handful of tables (each race has one) and determine that my human once foiled a plot to kill someone important or brought a killer to justice. I don't know what to do with that yet so I keep rolling:

My human puts the interests of himself and his friends above all else. A typical roll gets a typical human result. He belongs to the Cult of the New God, whatever that is. I don't know if this is a powered by the apocalypse style prompt (where I fill in a new cult and add details later as they come up) or if this is part of the built-in setting. Either way, tells me little.

The human is a young adult, 18-35. Ok, fine. He's also a bit overweight, which is kind of interesting, I guess. He's also perfectly average in appearance, which is fine.

Rolling for Professions

Since I'm a human I either get one more profession or can speak one more language. I'm going with professions, because that sounds useful. So I get three! Professions can grant you a boon (xd6, keep the highest, cancel banes) or they can grant you an automatic success, depending on the situation. It's pretty flexible, and I like seeing these sorts of systems in game.

My human spent time in a Religious profession- a flagellant! So he's got a masochistic streak, as well as something to feel sorry about. Next, he was a miner? And then a historian? That's a pretty long life for a young man, but rearranging it, I can think of a couple ways to spin this.

Path one is very grim- He grew up in a hard, sparse town as a miner. One day he uncovered something in the deep dark earth that ought not have been released. Through his actions, he managed to save the life of the unearthed evil- and being a common miner, it's not like he has the means to stop it. Ashamed and afraid, he gave up his earthly life to try and find solace in religion. He punished himself for years. His back is still crossed with self-inflicted whip scars and in difficult moments he still craves punishment. But eventually being around a center of mystery and lore (the cult's temple) got to him, and he realized he had a fairly sharp memory for events long passed. He was illiterate, true, but soon found himself spending hours talking to the literate temple chroniclers in between his long punishment sessions.

Path two goes in reverse- as a chronicler in the cult, he had various sacred duties including the recording of important dates and calculating the appropriate times for memorial celebrations. He spent his childhood as an apprentice, learning how to make parchments, appropriate uses of ink, and the like. Unfortunately for his life, living in a destitute and mostly irrelevant backwater means raids. He was captured before he could master letters and forced into slavery. Life as an enslaved miner isn't so bad- you have to do a lot of work, but the night hours are filled with pleasure of a certain sort. And if you're smart, you can help start a riot that turns into an uprising. With freedom back in his bones he heads to the only home he's ever known- the temple. Unfortunately, as it turns out, his father was a known diabolist unknown to his son, and his teachings were tainted with demonic corruption. He ratted his own father out in fear for his eternal soul, and his father (a murderer who readily confessed to his crimes under the irons) was executed. At the temple, he was taught the purifying rituals of fire and lash, designed to focus his mind and stave back the temptation. It worked, after a fashion- he still slipped up, but his enthusiasm and emphasis on decorum served him well. When (IMPORTANT EVENT) tore him away from the temple, his presence was almost a relief, and his former compatriots ensured his departure's permance by a token collection and some spare equipment they had lying around.

Not bad, right?

I rolled "Getting By," so I get to choose between a dagger, a staff, or a sling with 20 stones. A staff seems appropriate for a pilgrim / wanderer who's not super militant. The staff has finesse, so I can use my Agility instead of my Strength, but my Strength is 11 (I used that +1 attribute on it) so I don't really care about that.

That's it for the level zero version of my character. According to the rules, you have to survive an adventure to get your first level, which is kind of cool. I like 0th level adventures in general, especially given that my stats are all average and despite my background very strongly pointing me towards picking up a level of Priest, I could still easily go Warrior and not violate my character's core concept, such as it is on this early state.

Now, I've got a couple of ways to play solo, including the Mythic GM emulator and the solo game play Oracle in Scarlet Heroes (which both seem kind of similar to me, not that there's anything wrong with that), but I think I'll save that for another day. This is enough work already, and it gives me a couple of footholds with which to start working on some background information that I want to include.

If you've ever played with me, you know that I don't like to plan a whole lot of specific detail up front- I prefer to generate broad brushstroke settings where various organizations and actors are in dynamic tension, each wanting something they can't have but being within one lucky stroke of gaining it. This lets the players burst onto the scene, disrupt the status quo, and then watch the domino effect carry the game away with it. I tell you what, if you prime it just right, the game literally unfolds in front of you and it's an absolute blast to GM.


21 May 2016

Wew Buddy

It has been a minute, hasn't it?

A little more than half a year, anyways, right?

The thing about trying to run games is that people will inevitably disappear, move out of town, gradually fade away, or otherwise help dissolve a group that used to show up on time and eager as heck. It's just one of those things! I'm only a little mad at it.

The important thing here is that, because I plan on starting to run a game soon, I might have something to write about here.

I also might start writing video game opinions here because hey, it's my blog and I can write what I like. I've been playing a bit of Stellaris, back into my old guilty pleasures with Heroes of the Storm, and been spending quite a lot of time working on my journeyman electrician's license.

Anyways, this is short but I plan on getting back into the swing of things. Somehow I find that I have more to write about when I'm in the process of running a game ;)