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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 92 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Riddle of Midnight  (Read 10249 times)
Judd
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« on: December 10, 2003, 07:40:08 PM »

Character Creation and Game Background Set-up

When a buddy of mine, JJ,  broke his hip last year I began a game with him, set in Fantasy Flight Game's Midnight setting, that I received as a gift but found compelling with some fine changes to the d20 system.

The game turned into mostly a solo game, as players eased in and out of the campaign, but always with his character as the primary motivating force.  JJ's character became the main focus, with other characters fading in and out as the players could attend.  The situation worked.

Today we swtiched that D&D game over to the Riddle of Steel.

It was interesting watching the players take what was on their D&D character sheets and attempt to translate it.  Eventually, I urged them step away from the old sheets and as they become more comfortable with their new TROS skin, they did.  Spiritual Attributes, naturally, were what made the characters froma bunch of numbers into a personality.  I knew those characters were always there.  I had seen them play but it was interesting to put a system to it.

This isn't a D&D SUCKS thread, isn't meant to be in any way.  I've run story-centered D&D games with great role-playing and fantastic player driven plot.  But I think the no real dungeon crawling, not taking out evil left and right but making surgical strikes against those who immediately threaten the PC's way of life while the threat of becoming as bad as that which we are fighting is always looming could have worked better.

Enter the Riddle.

JJ, who had adventured for months of near-solo gaming, was conflicted as to where to put his SA's.  It was interesting to see him narrow it down.  We had to cut away what he thought was important to his character to get at what was important to him about that character.

The notable turning point was that he didn't have a Destiny and it is quite obvious to both of us that his character, a hunter from the norse-like north, has big things ahead of him, big plans.  JJ had down a Conscience SA and we talked about how much game time he had spent helping people.

He had spent significant amount of time hunting evil Shadowspawn but very little getting between the Shadowspawn and innocents.  It wasn't out of character to do so but it just didn't seem to be where JJ put the character's focus when he was at the table.

In the end he took a Destiny.  But after he took one, he couldn't decide which one to take, as he had actually written down three possibilities on the side of the character sheet (a great space, character sheet borders, where magic can happen).  We discussed it and he wrote down the Destiny that the next adventures seem most greated towards answering, realizing that he can change the words of the Destiny it later if need be.

Barry ported his Elven Channeler over into a Sidhe Sorcerer.  He just began to get a grip on how brutally powerful his PC has now become.

Barry started at the beginning, knowing exactly what his Philosophy was while JJ needed to see everything else fall into place before he could put his character's ethos statement into clear, concise words.  I had noticed that when making a TROS character before with JJ, that he liked to build everything around a concept and end on the Philosophy, after blueprinting his character with SA's.

The third player took a Sea Elf, a sub-race of Elf that I hadn't read too much on and didn't know that much about.   He is a gamer I don't know well and seemed rather shy.  We'll see how he does as the game progresses, after the first of the year.  

His SA's denoted a rather one-side character but I think I have enough to hook him in with and I am worried that his Philosophy was just any old setnence on his character sheet after he took it from the book.  He borrowed my Midnight books, perhaps reading on Sea Elf culture a bit will fan the fires.

Next post:  specific SA's, bad names/pot , first combat dream sequence
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MonkeyWrench
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« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2003, 08:33:53 PM »

I'm very interested to see how this turns out. I'm currently running a d20 Midnight game and I've conviced half the group that RoS would be better for what they want to do. Let us know how it goes.
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-Jim
Judd
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« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2003, 10:23:36 PM »

SA's and Philosophies - The Heart of the Matter

Karhoun 'The Knife' Esben - Northerner Huntsman

Philosophy - My last breath will be driving my blade deeper to the heart of the shadows.

Drive - Oath to Destroy the Black Tower of Theros Obisdia (capital city of Evil)
Destiny - To restore Karhoun's Keep for our people of the north

Faith - Honor your ancestors and their gods

Passion - Shadow hunting

Passion - Love - Elaylee - Dark Dryad of the Black Oak

All of these SA's were derived through the past months of play and thus really meant something to JJ.  I recommended a passion for hunting, since hunting is when JJ seemed most happy with Karhoun.


Vordon Qell, The Crimson Prince - Elven Sorcerer

Philosophy - The shadow will fall even if I have to kill, rape and pillage to see it done.

Conscience - Help the Poor

Drive - To see the Shadow Fall

Faith - In my Father

Destiny - To Redeem Father

Passion - Preserving nature

Barry often talks about the Darth Vader like dynamic between Vordon and his evil father.  Basically, the Big Bad Guy in the game seduced four heroes to the dark side before the Last Battle.  These are the Night Kings.  Barry's dad is one of them, the greatest of the Elven Wizards and he turned evil.

I'm not sold on his Faith SA in his father at all.  I think taht might be a goof on my part, having let that slide.


Baau - Sea Elven Sailor/Soldier (Marine?)

Philosophy - All things are in my own hands.

Drive - To find kidnapped lover

Passion - Love of Aoen (he was stoned and he had just seen Two Towers...hence Eowyn as Aoen)

Passion - Hatred - Shadow

Luck

I really don't have a grip on this character and I'm worried that it will badly muss up my ability to run a good game for this player.  He is an incredible combatant with a better pool than either of the two other players.

I'm already thinking about how Vordon's father was the only behind kidnapping Baau's love and seeks to make her his bride.  What a fine mess...

I decided that the first combat would be a dream sequence.  The characters would realize they were having this incredibly lucid dream about the crossroads they were approaching.  

That way they could get a grip on the combat and role-play their characters remembering the cost of creeping up on Tolkienesque Orcs in a sloppy ambush.

I'll write about the combat tomorrow.  It is going to get bloody.
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Judd
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Please call me Judd.


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« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2003, 10:36:31 AM »

Quote from: MonkeyWrench
I'm very interested to see how this turns out. I'm currently running a d20 Midnight game and I've conviced half the group that RoS would be better for what they want to do. Let us know how it goes.


The group I am running this for wasn't sold on d20 as a system.  JJ had seen TROS, as he made up a character for a game that never happened and we ran through a test combat with that character.  He was all for a change.

If I had a group that wasn't sure about it, I probably wouldn't make the change with an established campaign.  JJ's character in particular, isn't nearly as adept at some of the things he could do in the D&D system.  In D&D Karhoun was such a good tracker that he seemed to be part hound dog.  In TROS, he isn't nearly as adept and I am thinking of bumping his skill down a bit to reflect the character he was a bit.  Not sure.

JJ's fine with it and didn't bitch but I'm worried that if I had a player who didnt like the change-over and such a loss in ability happened, there'd be bitchin' and moanin' galore.

Maybe ask them to read this thread?

More on the combat later.
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DaGreatJL
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« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2003, 02:25:02 PM »

Quote from: Paka
JJ's character in particular, isn't nearly as adept at some of the things he could do in the D&D system.  In D&D Karhoun was such a good tracker that he seemed to be part hound dog.  In TROS, he isn't nearly as adept and I am thinking of bumping his skill down a bit to reflect the character he was a bit.  Not sure.

JJ's fine with it and didn't bitch but I'm worried that if I had a player who didnt like the change-over and such a loss in ability happened, there'd be bitchin' and moanin' galore.


When making the characters for the changeover, did you account for experience and change? I mean, from the sounds of it, JJ's character has gone up a couple of levels since starting. Did you account for that, or were the new characters made as starting TROS characters?
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JL

I got the Power of Metal without cheating.
Judd
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Posts: 1641

Please call me Judd.


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« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2003, 02:31:18 PM »

Quote from: DaGreatJL


When making the characters for the changeover, did you account for experience and change? I mean, from the sounds of it, JJ's character has gone up a couple of levels since starting. Did you account for that, or were the new characters made as starting TROS characters?


I didn't give him any XP, just let him start with a starting character, a situation I might remedy after giving his character a looking over.  It doesn't seem right.

JJ's not bitching but his character just doesn't seem the same at all.
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Judd
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« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2003, 04:19:29 PM »

They definitely had the right idea.

In order to try out the combat system of TROS, I declared the first sequence of the game a dream.  Their characters realized they were having an incredibly lucid dream and we could all test out the combat without becoming scarred messes and losing characters they had fought to keep alive in the past.

They caught the tracks of a band of Orcs travelling north, moving fast.  They had stopped to camp.

The group decided to sneak in while they were sleeping and ambush them, even the numbers.  They stealthed their way to a nearby ridge and counted five orcs, one watchman was almost nodding off.  The Elven maiden was tied to a log nearby, where the chief of the band was sleeping.

They wisely set the Sea Elf on a ridge with a bow and arrows.  His beefy 11 Missile pool would come in quite handy.

Karhoun and an Orc they had freed from a crow's cage, Mad Martigan style crept into the camp to kill the watchman and take out as many Orcs as possible before anyone woke up the wiser.

For some reason, the Elf Sorcerer's player decided to creep into the camp from a different direction.  He had no skill in moving stealthily and rolled poorly.  The Orc on watch rolled really well and heard something, then saw the Elf right to his left.

Thing went downhill after that.

The Sea Elf on the ridge was hell on wheels with his bow, not even using his SA's, just going for head shots and awlays rolling a 3 or up, hitting faces before they could become a problem.

Vorden took a spear to the chest in the first round, a level 3 wound but he was still up after the initial shock wore off.

Baau was hit with a nasty spear chuck that took him in the guts.

Karhoun dispatched a few Orcs before going head to head with an Orc who managed to take his blade out.  They both threw red dice and struck each other simultaneously.  They both died of nasty head wounds.

The characters woke up scared and the players walked away from the table wiser.

We discussed what could have been done diferently, how Vorden and Baau both have Glamour Vagaries that went entirely unused.  Both of them could have blended into shadows without too much trouble if need be or walked more silently.
 
The combats will run faster once I get a better grip on the system, which is still rather shaky for me.  But now that I've seen how it works, reading over the rules again makes more sense to me.  I understand the application of what I'm reading now.  I think I'll be more fluent with the system now.

That is about it.  We left the table excited, wanting to play again soon.  The Riddle will be a good match for Midnight's dark setting.
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MonkeyWrench
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Posts: 160


« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2003, 08:29:00 PM »

Sounds exciting. How are handling the Legates and their divine magic? What about the Black Mirrors and their ability to absorb magic? Did you port over the various species/races exactly or did you just "play it by ear"?

I'm interested to hear more because Midnight is one of my favorite settings and RoS is definetly one of my favorite


edit - misspelled words
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-Jim
Judd
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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2003, 08:46:12 PM »

Quote from: MonkeyWrench
Sounds exciting. How are handling the Legates and their divine magic? What about the Black Mirrors and their ability to absorb magic? Did you port over the various species/races exactly or did you just "play it by ear"?


Divine magic I'm just avoiding all together.  Legates are just like Sorcerers only they don't age when they cast.  However, Izrador can return their aging to them at will.

Black Mirrors will make aging more painful and casting more difficult, the PC will definitely know they've given this time off of their life to a Dark God.

I'm just playing it by ear with the races, yeah.

If yer interested I write a Story Hour for the game here:  

http://www.enworld.org/forums/showthread.php?t=71645

It is a more novel-like approach, unlike the Actual Play here where I think about system and such.
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Judd
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Please call me Judd.


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« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2003, 08:46:34 PM »

Double Post - Sorry
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Judd
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Posts: 1641

Please call me Judd.


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« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2003, 02:23:37 AM »

We had a marathon 10 hour session tonight and it was really brilliant.

First we went over the combat system a bit more and I let the players know some areas where I made mistakes last week.

More on this later.  I am exhausted and need to drive to New Jersey tomorrow morning.

We all agreed that changing systems worked.  Drift issues have been laid to rest as we hit our SA's and ambush Orcs.  Fun, fun stuff.
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Rob MacDougall
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« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2003, 09:47:09 AM »

Quote
JJ, who had adventured for months of near-solo gaming, was conflicted as to where to put his SA's. It was interesting to see him narrow it down. We had to cut away what he thought was important to his character to get at what was important to him about that character.


That's a great distinction - not what is important to the character, but what's important to the player about the character. Cool. I just wanted to thank you for that. Seems to me it could have implications for many games.
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Judd
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Posts: 1641

Please call me Judd.


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« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2003, 01:33:42 AM »

Quote from: Rob MacDougall
Quote
JJ, who had adventured for months of near-solo gaming, was conflicted as to where to put his SA's. It was interesting to see him narrow it down. We had to cut away what he thought was important to his character to get at what was important to him about that character.


That's a great distinction - not what is important to the character, but what's important to the player about the character. Cool. I just wanted to thank you for that. Seems to me it could have implications for many games.


This  is a tremendous point that I cannot say enough.  It has improved my game table vibe to an incredible degree.  

I created an in-game mechanic in which there are these powerful Oath Rooms scattered around the continent.  The P.C.'s have all sworn powerful oaths to destroy the Shadow in such a room.  When you have sworn this oath you can tell when others have done so and when another has broken it they are instantly out of the loop.

This allows the players to bring in new PC's in the event of a death, or bring in new players from out of town or what have you.  The world is so dark and insidious, I wanted the players to be able to trust each other, if nothing else.

the last Riddle of Midnight game ended with the P.C.'s in a relatively safe keep, all wanting to go in different directions.  A dragon, friendly to their cause, had held the keep for a century...long story.

The Actual Play part of the story is that I mentioned that we could split up the party and create NPC's, summoned by the Dragon through a tangible in-game magic that was established in previous plot.  The Dragon would summon folk to help the P.C.'s on their quest and through the Oath Rooms summon reliable help.

One of the players talked about the option of splitting up as if it couldn't happen, it wasn't feasible.  I put forth that the game was ours and we should go where the story takes us.  Their SA's are pulling them apart.  Perhaps when their quests are finished, their paths will lead together once again.



I look back and I am unsure if this is relevant to the original point or not but here it is.
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Judd
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Please call me Judd.


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« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2003, 10:04:05 AM »

I should talk about my group a little bit.

Padric is new to me, joined because he was the roommate of the guy whose housewe game at.  We both felt each other out and gained that all important trust.  He digs the combat system.

JJ was the guy I was running this campaign for as a solo game and now it is a group thing.  He started gaming with Star Frontiers and such in junior high and has played alot of World of Darkness and some Ars Magica.

Barry, like JJ, played in an Ars Magica game I ran years ago.  Now his main gaming is Rifts and World of Darkness.  He and JJ were in the best game I have ever run and in that game, Barry ran one of the most fully realized characters I've ever seen at the table.  Neat stuff, alot of promise in this group.

We gamed for ten hours or so and used quite a bit of magic.  I've allowed the player to use Summoning to contact spirits, knowing full well that this would allow for their foot in the door if it were incredibly powerful creature.

The pieces of the Riddle are lining up with Midnight quite well.  I've adopted imagery of cold and despair with the aging, since the Sauron Figure is called the Shadow in the North.  

The Shadow, unbeknownst so far, to the players, has set up these black mirriors in its churches and cathedrals, with which it is sucking magic out of the continent.  When the Elven Wizard aged, he was miles away from a mirror but on a ridge and could see the fortress where the mirror was kept.  I descripted the sands of his life running out towards that keep but dispersing before it could reach it.  

The PC's have adopted a policy of ambush at all times and Orcs are getting the respect they deserve as combatants.

Skill rolls seemed to be made much of the time, which is fine.  I am all for the PC's being good at what they are doing.  I found that even with 7, 8 or 9 skill levels they were successful more times then not.  When their skills went up through use they were really impressed with how that worked, as was I.

SA's, as they should, ruled the day.  The end of the adventure found the PC's in a safe spot at last, a place they could rest.  It was clear their SA's were pulling them in different directions.  We discussed it out of game and decided to split the party, everyone making new characters to go with each party to their different destinations.  

I cannot write enough about SA's.  They are an adventure blueprint.  They are a character blueprint.  They offer Bang suggestions, insuring that the plot hooks are barbed and lethal, snaring players' attention.  They are a written request from player to Seneschal saying, "I want this."

Quote from new player: "So we get experience points for role-playing?"

Me:  "Yes, you do."

Player:  "Holy shit, that is cool."


I put plastic tabs on the relevant pages of my Riddle book, about four for character creation, a few for Sorcerery and a bunch for the damage tables and weapons tables, for easier navigation.  Between that and Driftwood's awesome PDF DM's screen, which I have slid into my two Masterscreens, it has sped up my page flipping to keep the game's pace brisk.
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Judd
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« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2003, 07:50:14 PM »

The Sorcery system in TROS is nice, very fast and loose, but with risk, some bite.

I've allowed Summoning to be used to also contact spirits and it has allowed for some great role-playing along with some aging.  The use of the pool, setting aside some for the casting and some to combat aging is brilliant.
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