Are you traveling to Gen Con this week? Here is a list of choice episodes from some of our podcasts (and a couple from our friends) to keep you company!
by Jason Cordova
Are you traveling to Gen Con this week? Here is a list of choice episodes from some of our podcasts (and a couple from our friends) to keep you company!
by Tomer Gurantz, Keeper of the Squamous Beast Below
What is it?
The Listen Party is an ad hoc event I started a few months back. The first one was on a day I felt a little low and didn’t have the ability to leave the house, but really just wanted some connection and chit-chat. On that day, I checked in with some folks in The Gauntlet Slack group. Before long, some of us dove into a Discord voice channel and listened to segments from recent Gauntlet podcasts, and after 5-10 minutes of listening, hit Pause and discussed the topic. We did this for about an hour or two, working our way through a few segments.
Since that first time, we’ve probably had about a half dozen of these crop up. Sometimes there’s just 3-4 of us, and the biggest was probably closer to 10 Gauntleteers.
Some recent Listen Parties
A particularly memorable one was when a large group of us listened to the Fear of a Black Dragon Podcast about Operation Unfathomable, specifically highlighting the segment where Jason and Tom discuss tips for good characterizations. In addition to getting to process the segment again, having each other as a sounding board allows questions to be answered, and additional tips and tricks to be uncovered from the plethora of experience we all have.
In another we listened to one of the Gauntlet’s GM Masterclass episodes, and a few weeks later the +1 Forward episode about Dream Apart.
The most recent involved us listening to the Gauntlet Podcast for Flotsam: Adrift Amongst the Stars with Josh Fox. Prior to the podcast, we just caught up with one another and had a discussion about MR-KR-GR: The Death Rolled Kingdom. While listening to the podcast, conversations came up about cognitive vs improvisational load in Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) and other story games, tokens and GMless games, and mechanics in regards to Flotsam, Good Society, and others.
How does it work?
Our listen parties are actually quite low-fi. Someone simply announces they want to do the thing in Slack; we have a specific Slack keyword we use to allow for people to opt-in to get notified it’s happening. This call to arms has us gather into a Discord voice channel, and then once we have a critical mass, we choose what we want to listen to. Generally, we go for a recent podcast with a juicy segment or two. At this point, I do the “3, 2, 1…” countdown, we all hit PLAY, and listen to it on our headphones, individually. When the segment is over, or if someone pipes up and says they want to start a discussion, we just hit PAUSE, and then commence. This continues until we’ve decided we’re done. Simple enough.
There was a suggestion of using Rabb.it, a service that allows people to watch or listen to things together, but we found it’s a little more than what we needed just now. Perhaps one day.
Are you a Gauntlet Slack user who’s interested?
Use the GauntletListenParty keyword to get info on how to setup the notification. And even though I’ve been the one generally making it happen, it’s anyone’s game, so don’t be bashful in starting a listen party when the mood strikes!
What is The Between?
The Between is about a group of monster hunters in Victorian London. It is directly inspired by the TV show Penny Dreadful, but also takes inspiration from British horror classics like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and various Sherlock Holmes stories, as well as the comic books The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and From Hell.
The game is called The Between because we find the characters in a very liminal moment–caught between a mysterious past that is trying to catch up to them and a future that is cloaked in darkness. It is also called The Between because, unlike many tabletop roleplaying games, the players in this game do not live solely behind their character’s eyes; rather, at specific times they are called upon to help the D.I. (this game’s version of a GM) fill in many of the details related to the world.
What is it like to play?
In The Between, the D.I. presents and tracks an ever-growing list of Threats across the city of London. The players, collectively called Hargrave House (which is the name of their base of operations) conduct investigations related to these Threats and either engage in hunts to destroy them or otherwise enact plans to manage the danger they pose to the city. The D.I. is also responsible for developing an uber-Threat called The Enemy, a Moriarty-style criminal mastermind and the true villain of the story.
Gameplay is divided into two phases: the Day phase and the Night phase. The Day phase has a languid, almost casual pace. The scenes in the Day phase are largely framed by the players, and the goals of those scenes include some combination of: exploring conflicts and tension between the player characters; relieving Conditions, which are negative traits the players can acquire during play; observing the player characters at leisure; and conducting light, daytime-appropriate investigation of Threats.
The Night phase, on the other hand, is more visceral. The scenes in this phase are framed by the D.I. and focus on the intense, bloody business of hunting vampires and serial killers on the lamplit streets of London. The pacing of this phase is governed by a special procedure called the Overscene, which I will discuss a bit below.
What makes this game special?
There are many things that make this game special, but I’ll give a quick preview of a few mechanics I believe help make The Between a very novel experience. I’ll be discussing these and other elements in more detail in future Design Diary posts, but this should be enough to give you a sense of things:
The Janus Mask
In The Between, players are not generally allowed to speak about their character’s past, either in-character or out of character. If someone asks a player character about something from their past, players are encouraged to demure or otherwise avoid the conversation. Specific elements of their past are explicitly forbidden to be discussed at the table unless a certain mechanic, the Janus Mask, is triggered, at which point those elements may be revealed in a cinematic fashion by the player.
The Janus Mask is divided into two: the Mask of the Past and the Mask of the Future. The specifics for each playbook differ, but generally-speaking, the Mask of the Past has you narrate flashbacks that gradually show us how the character got to where they are today, whereas the Mask of the Future gives hints as to what the Fates have in store for them.
During the game, after a die roll has taken place and the outcome narrated, the player can choose to invoke the Janus Mask to turn the roll into a 12+ and completely alter the fictional outcome. They mark an element from either the Mask of the Past or the Mask of the Future; then, at some point during the session, they have to do whatever the Janus Mask element instructs. Note, however, that the more and more they invoke the Janus Mask, the closer and closer the character gets to being retired.
The Overscene is a special scene that governs the pacing of the Night phase. During the Overscene, we see a situation playing out in another part of London on the same night Hargrave House is engaged in the hunt. Importantly, the Overscene is not connected to the Hargrave House story in any way. It exists as a bit of texture, a glimpse into our version of Victorian London at night. But that doesn’t mean it is without mechanical weight (see Echoes in the Dark, below).
Echoes in the Dark
During the Night phase, whenever a player narrates something in the main scene that is thematically or visually similar to something that occurred in the Overscene, or vice-versa, they have done what is called an Echo in the Dark. At the end of the Night phase, so long as they did at least one Echo in the Dark, they get to mark XP.
The Day Move and the Night Move
At its heart, The Between is Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA). However, most conflicts in the game are resolved by a single move that comes in two different flavors: the Day Move and the Night Move, both of which were inspired by various PbtA games, including Monsterhearts and Bluebeard’s Bride. I have put a tremendous amount of thought into these moves, and the end results not only arbitrate fictional outcomes, but also help negotiate stakes between the player and the D.I., as well as determine who has narrative authority. The difference between the Day Move and the Night Move is that the latter is designed to be significantly more dangerous to the player.
An Urban Shadows character generation procedure by Lauren McManamon, Keeper of the Secrets of Quachil Uttaus (@thestraykiwi) and Kyle Thompson, Keeper of the Light of the Peerless Star (@wiegraf_)
In some parts of the Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) community it's a popular practice to import characters from a finished Monsterhearts campaign into a new game of Urban Shadows, giving them a new context and new story to tell on top of what the first campaign already established. It's easy to go overboard with character backstory in a new campaign, adding nothing but cruft and taking away from the stories that can be built around other PCs, but in a campaign with only one PC from a small town background, this kind of character development can be a great help to the MC.
Not everyone has a spare Monsterhearts character lying around to import into Urban Shadows, but the key plot beats of a Monsterhearts game are a great way to establish external and internal character conflict. These extra establishing questions will let you hit those plot beats and feel like your character has gone through their own monstrous high school experience.
The MC chooses 4 at character generation before asking the standard US establishing questions:
Greetings, and welcome to the weekly Gauntlet Hangouts video roundup! Don't miss any of the great sessions in the updated playlists and video links below.
Star Wars Saturday
Sea of Stars (Session 2 of 3)
Rich runs for Ary, Blaise, Keith, Pawel, and Walter
The crew of the Silver Snake arrive on Research Station Shantipole, meet Commander Ackbar and the Empire invades!
Dungeon World: The Green Law of Varkith (Session 4 of 5)
Lowell runs for Patrick, Rich, Rubin, and Steven
The Worshipful Company of Fetchers attacks the PC's Guild and gets destroyed hard...like salt-the-earth level annihilation.
Masks: A New Generation (Session 4 of 4)
Lowell runs for Hannah, Jesse, Larry, and Michael
The team traces last murderbot and leaps into a battle with alien villains...and their own past.
Dungeon World: Gaunt Marches - Desire to Despond (Session 3 of 3)
Richard runs for Bethany, Catherine, Kyle, and Stephen
In which a paladin confronts an old empire in the ruins of a drowned village, a ranger frees the captives, a masked mage avoids bloodshed in morally questionable ways, and a vagabond from the fey queen's court abandons his secrecy at the edge of a witch's circle.
Nahual: Playtest 1 (Session 4 of 4)
Miguel runs for Brian, Klint, Noella, and Rich
Beyond the Castle Wall: Keep on the Barrowlands (Session 3 of 4)
Richard runs for Christo, Leandro, Maria, and Mark
Below the Temple of Crow's Watch, wine and hot mineral springs distract Lyssa, Stig, and Aitor from their troubles...but not Gloria who cannot forget what she's seen. In the midst of their melancholy attempt at drunken revels, an old god reveals itself and well armed pilgrims arrive at the Drestfall doorstep.
Spire: Blood & Dust (Session 3 of 4)
Darren runs for Agatha, Fraser, Leandro, and Maria
Tibalt, Nuka, Margit, & Kieran go to a play. Just a normal day. Nothing weird here. Nope, not at all.
Good Society (Session 3 of 3)
Yoshi runs for Asher, Dan, David, and Jim
Shock: Social Science Fiction
Mikael runs for Horst, Pat, and Ryan
MR-KR-GR: The Death-Rolled Kingdom
Tomer runs for Ary, Ellen, and Lauren
Can 3 intrepid adventurers looking for artifacts and spirit mangoes survive crocodile nobles, a merchant lord, and a demon idol? Set in the SE Asia inspired fantasy setting by Munkao and Zedeck Siew.
Veil 2020: Land of the Free (Session 8)
Fraser runs for Darren, Kira, Lauren, Matthew, and Michael
Tragedy at the Docks - The crew find themselves in a trap as the boat they arrived on is set ablaze and an ambush is sprung. Betrayal and death on the New Orleans docks!
Home Front: Playtest
Sidney runs for Christo, Darren, Jen, and Robert
Sperry draws unwanted attention to the safehouse. But there's always time for a seance.
Check out all the great videos on The Gauntlet YouTube channel and be sure check out the playlists to catch up on all your favorite Gauntlet Hangouts games. If you'd like to play in games like these, check out the Gauntlet Hangouts Google+ Community where game signups are announced! To support The Gauntlet and Gauntlet Hangouts, please visit the Gauntlet Patreon at https://patreon.com/gauntlet where $7 and up patrons get priority RSVP for Gauntlet Hangouts games. Enjoy, and everyone have a great weekend!
Our Slack Spotlight series features short interviews with active members of our Slack channel.
Michael G. Barford: Hey Maria, thanks for taking the time to chat with me today. You've been with the Gauntlet for a while now; what drew you to it?
Maria Rivera: That is a two-fold story. I was working on Heroes and Crystal Kingdoms, and I saw that one of the upcoming Codex entries was Crystal-themed. So I hit Jason [Cordova] up, and he was happy to include it in the zine. More importantly, however, Christo Meid, another member of the Gauntlet, was looking for players for Urban Shadows one night and I decided to play with that group. I was impressed by the solid play and was promptly drawn in.
Can you tell me a little more about Heroes and Crystal Kingdoms?
That is my hack of Slade Stolar's The Indie Hack for having a job system in the style of Final Fantasy and Bravely Default. I'm currently working on making a World of Dungeons version, which might be playtested at Gauntlet Con.
What are your greatest sources of inspiration for your game design work?
Wait, game design? I just want to play games, and when certain niches don't exist, one has to make them. I guess that's technically game design, ha ha.
Ha ha, fair enough! You mentioned Final Fantasy and Bravely Default—in what ways do you think that tabletop RPGs can benefit from incorporating elements of video games into their systems?
Oh, damn... It's all game design, isn't it? I think that with a light touch it works very well. Get inspiration from the video game, it's just another art form, right? The one thing I would caution against is trying to emulate the video game itself exactly. As far as I know, and don't quote me on this, because I'm no expert, a lot of RPG adaptations of video games fall into the trap of doing that, so the game ends up being near unplayable at a table. I would just treat video games as another source of inspiration, like books or movies.
You're an avid participant in Gauntlet Hangouts, both running and playing. What was your introduction to the hobby?
That was in middle school. I went to a toy library regularly, and they had RPGs. My first few games were Aquelarre, Vampire: the Masquerade, and a few homebrews... This was in Spain, mind you. I don't think introducing RPGs to tweens via Aquelarre and Vampire is as much of a thing in the United States, ha ha.
Probably not, ha ha. What games are on your radar presently?
Do you mean currently play or want to play? For the former, I generally enjoy PbtA games. For the latter, I want to play more OSR/DIY stuff like The Black Hack, Into the Odd, or Troika!
It seems like a lot of the games you're interested in, from PbtA to OSR, embrace the spirit of DIY. From your experience with hacking games, what advice would you give to people who are thinking about "making a game their own?"
Once you bring a game to the table, it is already your own. Sure, the rules are still the same as in the book, but the experience you and your fellow players bring is your own. As far as actually hacking a game goes, make the game you want to play.
I'd like to end this interview with Stars and Wishes, if that's okay with you. What's a recent accomplishment that you're particularly proud of, and what's something you're hoping to achieve in the near future?
I want to give myself a Star for being interviewed here, ha ha. My Wish is to bring that Gauntlet vibe to GenCon!
Thanks again for sharing, Maria. See you around the Slack!
Maria Rivera is a Latina Gauntleteer who has run different games like Godbound, Urban Shadows, and Battle Between the Worlds. She has written Heroes and Crystal Kingdoms and The Rubble of Chirhominar's Sanctum, the latter found in Codex - Storm. She is also a star nerd, to a degree. She is on Twitter @Thoobn, and you can also find her running for Magpie Games at GenCon 2018 and helping organize Gauntlet Con 2018.
a play report by Fraser Simons, Keeper of the Neon Veil (@frasersimons)
Recently I had the pleasure of playing in a game of The Whitehack run by Horst Wurst, The Gardens of Ynn! I was pumped for it as of sign-up and dang, it exceeded my expectations. Let me talk a little bit about why, both regarding impressions of the module and the system, as it was my first time actually playing The Whitehack.
This module is super cool. We were adventurers going to get rich and looking for some kids in this surreal garden. Not exactly a revolutionary premise, but as soon as you enter the garden, shit gets real. The procedural generation of the spaces (based on the results of the three d20s being rolled) is very evocative. We are only one session in and I definitely want to discover more about this setting, even after only venturing into a few areas.
There is time fuckery. Literal machinations beneath the ground, in fact. We were told we always have the option of staying in a given space to spend time with it or just take off. We were also told that we should be thinking about using our items craftily and that generally if we just wanted to go murder things... we'd probably be having a bad time.
If you stay in an area, then time passes. It sounds nefarious. We didn't really get the connotations of what that means though. And I like that! Are we going to emerge from the gardens into an altogether different time period or something? Are we going to age rapidly when exiting? The possibilities are exciting.
We only got to navigate a couple of these spaces but all had strange sensations described when entering the space: smells, sights, taste, sounds, etc. Again, all evocative and interesting. I hope that continues and wonder if this is described in the module or is a product of Horst’s GMing.
We met a talking cat. Saw some skeletons littered around in the same area where a group of human-sized peacock things were mesmerizing a boy, presumably ready to devour him. Things are going swimmingly. Can't wait to see what happens next~
Some people may know that I have barely any working knowledge of Dungeons and Dragons. I played a couple adventures I recall very little of when in Elementary, then reentered the hobby 5-6 years ago by way of DnD Encounters, Pathfinder Society, etc. I hated it, eventually found online gaming, finally found The Gauntlet and have done all my gaming online since.
So, two years or so ago (ish), when I purchased The White Hack, I was very excited by the design work and could imagine how it might play. So much so, in fact, that I took inspiration from how class creation worked to put it in my game Veil 2020! Thanks to Horst, I finally got the opportunity to play it and, my word, I just loved the whole experience.
The Deft, The Wise, and The Strong are the character classes. Elegant, subjective, open to interpretation. Evocative names with good examples in the text. If you’re Deft, you can choose one "thing" in the game and succeed with unerring precision. The Wise has miracles that are negotiated and cost HP. So. Much. Cool. Stuff regarding character classes and creation.
The game uses Groups to craft character life experiences (lifepaths) and other associated background fiction. It is a bit of a mental hurdle at first, but, I think, ultimately very helpful to decide up front what is important about your character. This is directly coupled with mechanics to provide you with the relevant fictional positioning for those decisions you just made about your character, which was a breath of fresh air for me. I felt like ideas I conceived regarding what my character ought to be good at actually mattered and were supported by the system even as I came up with them on the fly.
I ended up deciding to play a wandering Deft monk. In the gardens we came across a suspicious, foaming at the mouth, talking cat. I asked the Referee, Horst, if I might have experience with these things having wandered about for ages and encountered strangers often. Specifically, I wanted to know if they were trying to ambush us or otherwise lie. Because I might have been set upon before in my travels, I gained that fictional positioning and rolled with Advantage, or a "double positive roll," as the system calls it.
These things about my character I decide are important are also tied to a stat, which I'm less crazy about. Why not just have it so fictional positioning grants Advantage, right, why tie that to a specific stat I’m rolling? Most of the time characters will be rolling specific stats for what they're good at anyhow, I'm sure. I'm super high in DEX and my fictional positioning (beside high DEX) is that I was trained in martial arts at the monastery, for instance. Super cool. And chances are I’ll be using that most often and so getting the double positive rolls, but it seems weird that a large part of the characters’ life is only structurally supported via that specific score.
Another thing I loved was critical roll target numbers being the exact stat value; a small but fun thing. The design work really does make it feel like it's all about the characters. Empowering them with just enough fictional positioning that they get excited about contributing... without dictating too much and possibly getting in the way of some of the principles stated in the book.
One thing I didn't like much was that you can also be squishy AF. I myself and one other player started with just 2 HP, which made me feel way too precious about my character. Sure, they could die and I could roll up another... but I just thought up all these cool ass things for my monk! I want to gain levels and gain even more Groups! In that sense, it feels a bit at odds with the system goal of empowering the characters. Horst told us there are some fail-safes in the text that make it a little harder to die; I'll have to revisit the text in greater detail to discover more of the system intricacies.
The end result was a Venetian Deft Thief, Vincenzo di Pasqua (Jason Cordova); a wandering Deft Monk (myself), a Wise Clockwork Tinkerer (Paul Staxx Spraget) and a Strong Bodyguard (Shane Liebling) all walked into the mysterious Garden of Ynn!
How fucking cool is that, right?!
If you'd like to travel to the Garden of Ynn! you can find it here.
by Jason Cordova
I like to create a high level of player engagement when I run a game, and I employ a number of tools to achieve it. The most important of those is the technique most closely associated with my GMing: Paint the Scene.
I created Paint the Scene back in 2016 and have been refining it ever since. Today, it is a cornerstone of my GM prep and one of the things that makes my game sessions exciting to be a part of.
Here’s how it works: if there is an idea, theme, or visual motif that is particularly important for an encounter or scene, ask the players what their characters observe in the scene that reinforces that idea, theme, or motif.
Here are some examples from actual game sessions I have run:
Scene: The dilapidated main street of a small town in Kansas during the Dust Bowl (from a game of Crossroads Carnival).
Paint the Scene question: “What do we see that is evidence that this town used to be prosperous but is now a dried up husk?”
Scene: The beautiful palazzo of Lady Eshrigel (from a game set in Vornheim).
Paint the Scene question: “As you walk around the palazzo, how do you know Lady Eshrigel is a medusa?”
AN IMPORTANT NOTE: The technique is somewhat deceptively named. “Paint the Scene” suggests we are only concerned with the visual, and that simply asking the players to describe their surroundings is enough. That is wrong. This technique is about exploring ideas. We don’t ask “What does your character see when they enter the opium den?” Instead, we ask “What does your character see that reminds them that this opium den is a place where the social classes meet?” The first question is serviceable, and may even lead to good outcomes, but the second question is better: deep, interesting, and focused around an idea.
Paint the Scene leads to many happy outcomes:
Inserting Paint the Scene questions into your GM prep is extremely easy. If you’re running a module, pick out the four or five coolest parts of it and attach Paint the Scene questions that reinforce ideas within those parts of the module. Or, better yet, pick out the four or five dullest parts of it and attach Paint the Scene questions to them in order to liven them up. If you’re doing something like my 7-3-1 technique from last week, add a Paint the Scene question to draw out a theme or add some player-generated texture (making it 7-3-1-1, I suppose). What about Apocalypse World fronts? Dead fucking easy: think about what kind of vibe or personality you want Rolfball to have and then add a Paint the Scene question that explores that vibe or personality (“When you look at Rolfball, how do you know he is a person not to be fucked with?”).
Paint the Scene is the most defining aspect of my personal GM style. This technique, and the frame of mind that comes with it, is the reason my games fill so blazing fast. Do you want to take your game to the next level? Do you want to add thematic richness and depth to your sessions? Do you want to be a “rockstar” GM? I’m giving you the keys to the castle, here.
Our Slack Spotlight series features short interviews with active members of our Slack channel.
Will Patterson: Thanks for speaking with me Matt. I understand that you just joined the Gauntlet. What brought you in?
Matt Hayles (@mathayles): I'd been enjoying actual plays from the Gauntlet community on YouTube and podcasts for a while. I'm a big fan of Pocket Sized play because it comes in short, digestible episodes that I can fit into my day (I'm a stay-at-home dad with two young kids). I'm always looking to play with diverse and inclusive tables, and I kept hearing from online friends about how good The Gauntlet's community was. When I decided to become a Patron, it seemed natural to come in at a level that let me join the Slack and games.
Uh oh, you’ve hit a personal obsession of mine (gaming with kids). Are your kids old enough to enjoy tabletop games yet?
Not even a little! My oldest is two and a half, and even though he's a very verbal kid he just can't pay attention to anything that isn't jumping on the couch for long. He's starting to experiment more with imagination play, which is really fun to see and I'm trying to encourage that and expose him to an inclusive group of stories, heroes and heroines. And my youngest is five months, so we've got a ways to go. I was excited to see that the Gauntlet Slack has a #kids_and_rpgs channel, because this hobby is definitely something I plan to introduce to them when they're ready.
Fantastic! Future Gauntleteers in the making. Are there any trends in the hobby that you find particularly exciting?
I think one of the best things in gaming right now is the focus on accessibility. First, I’m talking about games that are easy to pick up and play for beginners. Apocalypse World putting all the character moves right on the character sheet was a brilliant innovation! Or one-page games like John Harper’s Lasers & Feeling or all the games Grant Howitt’s been churning out like Honey Heist. Second I mean games where the content is accessible to people who aren’t interested in hack and slash sword and sorcery medieval euro-fantasy, which I’d consider over-represented in the hobby. If you look at what’s consumed in movies and television, there’s very little fantasy at all; other genres are just more interesting to most people. I’m especially in love with games that address marginalized communities, like Avery Alder’s games, which I adore. And lastly I mean the way games have been addressing disability, for example the recent batch of braille dice, and games that design for red-green colour blindness. I’m still learning more about disability myself, I’m not as knowledgeable as I’d like to be.
What brought you to the hobby originally?
Hah, so my parents signed me up for Dungeons & Dragons Camp over March Break when I was 9 or 10. I had never heard of D&D, didn’t own any dice or any books. But I was hooked so hard, and when I got home that evening I got a bunch of my friends together, pooled all our D6s from board games and grabbed LEGO’s for minis and tried to run a game from memory. They loved it too!
To this day, I don’t think my parents really understand what roleplaying games are.
That is amazing. Nearing the end here: You plan the perfect game night. What game? And are you playing or GMing?
When I’m working, I’m a professional people organizer, and I tend to end up doing the same with my friends and my gaming. I’m constantly putting new groups together and pitching games, and I’m almost always the GM for my tables. So I think my perfect game night is one that somebody else organizes and decides what we’re playing, and runs it. I just want to play!
Current favorite game?
I’d really love to play more Nobilis, Jenna Moran’s setting and characters are just so amazing and I love the mystic fairy tale storytelling that emerges from the mechanics, punctuated with long arguments about what words mean.
Most intriguing game you have yet to get to the table?
I still haven’t played Blades in the Dark! Everyone’s talking about it, I’ve played friends’ hacks of it, but never the actual game. I’m hoping to fix that this summer once my gaming schedule frees up a little.
Awesome. Thanks for humoring me, and I hope to see you in Doskvol!
a hack of Scum & Villainy by Kyle Thompson, Keeper of the Light of the Peerless Star (@wiegraf_)
Scum and Villainy comes with an extensive setting for use in play, but for a new campaign I’m launching in The Gauntlet’s Slack community I wanted to do some collaborative world building.
I decided to prep about 10 major factions and 5 star systems on the basis of player input, and then created this move to allow the players to do post-generation of factions they would like to see in the game.
Forged in the Dark (FitD) games like Scum and Villainy draw heavily on The Burning Wheel for inspiration, while giving it an action-oriented twist. I’ve extended that set of borrowed ideas by writing a move that combines the Acquire Asset downtime activity from FitD with BW’s Circles to add new factions to the game.
Just like Circles, the Faction Roll represents how connected the crew is and how well they can leverage those connections to get what they want. It allows for players to do world building and presents trade offs between resource consumption, faction potency, and complication of relationships.
The Faction Roll costs 1 downtime activity. A successful Faction Roll creates a new faction in the game, sets a status for the crew with the faction, and grants temporary access to their resources.
To create the faction, name who you’re looking for and what you want from them. The GM sets a minimum Tier for the faction you want resources from and you roll your crew’s Tier.
The result grants a budget of points to be spent on the tier of the faction and the status of the relationship. Using the crew’s Tier as the base, the number of points is as follows:
The faction begins at Tier 1 and their status with the crew begins at -2. Spend result points 1 for 1 to raise these values. The player must narrate how the resulting faction relationship makes sense in the fiction according to the following guidelines, and declare if the faction is weird, establishment, or criminal. The quality of the resource temporarily provided to the crew is equal to the faction’s Tier. As long as the created faction meets the minimum Tier, the player gets the resource, even if the relationship is negative.
How powerful are they?