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Author Topic: [Universalis] The Kurdak  (Read 3227 times)
Jumanji83
Member

Posts: 22


« on: June 15, 2008, 09:13:20 PM »

Hey all! I believe this is my first post on the Forge, and I,m going to start things up by just copy/pasting a previous post from Midnight's Lair. It's a Universalis game I started with 3 other players in April. We played two sessions; then, as it often does, life got in the way. Hopefully we'll resume playing soon enough.

DISCLAIMERs: Chearns and Winterbear are members of Midnight's Lair, and those are their handles over there. They may, or may not, be members here too, under the same handles or different ones, I do not know. Chearns mentions the Forge often, so I assume he is around. Simon is not on either board to my knowledge, therefore I am using his real name.

Here goes:

On Sunday, April 6th, started a game of Universalis. Players we’re :
-Chearns
-Winterbear
-Simon (not on these boards AFAIK)
-and myself, Jumanji83.

We sat down with no expectation. I explained the rules to Winterbear and Simon, with Chearns helping me with some aspects of the rules. Then we got into the meat of things: declaring the tenets of the game: what would be the story about?

Winterbear started things up, declaring this game would be set in a post-apocalyptic. Going around the table clockwise, we had Simon précising it would be the result of some kind of natural catastrophe of some sort, a “nuclear winter”. I was next, requesting an exotic setting, “eastern Europe, or Russia”. I didn’t want to find the statue of liberty lying around somewhere… Chearns skipped his turn… We added a few more details:

-The story would be focused around a small village, at least at the beginning;
-The main characters would be nomads;
-The “apocalypse happened at least three generations ago, only very old people could remember it, and pre-industrial technology the norm;
-The nomads were nomads because they were hunted…
-The story would have a theme of hope and rebuilding;
-Drinking water is a rare and valuable resource;
-The nomads are a spiritual people;
-There would be no supernatural elements in this story;
-A technique exists, in the game, to draw water from living beings. (Creeeepy!  )

Scene 1.

Chearn frames the scene. He sets the scene outside a small village. The Nomads are gathering there, on horseback, at dusk. A scout rides from the village, asking to speak to the Kurdak.

The Kurdak is established as the leader of the tribe, and a 14 year old boy.

The scout announces that the village is inhabited. The Kurdak then announces that in this case they will go in at night, under cover of darkness.

Winterbear then interrupted, introducing the character of Jaina, older sister of the Kurdak, who is also jealous of her brother’s position in the tribe. She contests his decision of entering the village at night, as beggars and thieves, and suggests they could try and barter with the villagers.

The Kurdak believes this too dangerous, as the villagers might be Water Farmers, who would draw all the water from their bodies with their unnatural ways…

Jumanji83 (myself) interrupts! He takes control of the scout, revealing his name to be Vron, a 22 year old man promised in marriage to Jaina. It would be his second marriage.

Vron suggests a compromise that could appease both his leader and his fiancée. Perhaps he could lead a small group into the village, establish friendly contact and negotiations, with little risk of endangering the rest of the tribe.

Chearns, as the Kurdak, offers that Vron and Jaina go alone. Chearns also establishes that the Kurdak wants Jaina dead.

Scene 2

Winterbear frames the scene.

He frames the scene as being at morning, in the Village. He states that the villagers are letting their livestock out of the underground dens where they keep them for safety during the night.

He introduces the character of Taigo, 17,who has the task of watching the western perimeter. He sees a man riding downhill towards him, a woman walking next to him (also establishing the fact that Nomad women don’t get to ride horses. Jaina could ride with Vron, but she’s to proud).

Taigo sounds the alert, and the villagers gather their weapons. They are peasant weapons, as their last warrior died last season.

I then interrupt, and changes the focus back to Vron and Jaina, who are arguing. Vron is annoyed Jaina wont ride with him, which would make the trip faster, and would also let them turn around the village from the east, and not have the sun in their eyes, which places them at a disadvantage. I establish they are wearing shades, made of stone with just little slits to see through, and not get blinded. We establish Jaina is not convinced she wishes to marry Vron, and that it was her brother who made the decision. The Kurdak had the authority to do so, as their parents were dead.

I bring the focus back to the villagers, introducing a young shepherdess named Anya, begging Taigo to be careful, she couldn’t bear to lose him.

Scene 3

Simon frames the scene. He frames a flashback occurring a year before. He establishes that the Kurdak is a hereditary title passed down from father to son. He establishes the scene as occurring in a secluded part of the wood. Present is the former Kurdak, father of the current Kurdak, and his son, Sid (his name would later be subsumed as he gets his father’s title).

Simon also introduces a stranger, who comes in and kills the Kurdak’s father. Simon declares this is how Sid became the Kurdak, and adds that he is afraid of his title and the responsabilities it represents.

I interrupt, and take control of the stranger, stating he has yellow eyes, and no left hand.

Chearns also interrupts, stating that right after the murder, the new Kurdak game a bag of stones to the assassin.

I interrupt again, stating that Vron was a witness to the scene, and that the Kurdak offered him his sister’s hand in marriage in exchange for his silence.

Scene 4

Chearns sets the scene.

He frames the scene as being in the Kurdak’s tent. The Kurdak himself is meditating. A man, established as being the rear scout of the tribe, covered in boils and leaking pus, crawls into the tent. He tells the Kurdak that “The Heat is almost upon us!”

Scene 5.

Winterbear frames the scene. We are on the edge of the village. Present were Jaina, Vron, and Taigo.

Vron starts to speak but Jaina interrupts. She wishes to enter negotiations with the village, and trade resources.

Taigo asks what they have to trade, and Jaina says her people cultivates plants that can filter the water, making it drinkable. The women in her tribe are responsible for those plants, growing them in wagons.

I then interrupt and take control of Taigo .He is sceptical. He knows the water farmers attacked the village last season (that’s how their last warrior died) and that his village is very vulnerable right now. If what Jaina says is true, it would really help his people get back on their feet. Also, getting some strong Nomads to stay for a season, to teach them how to grow and use the plants would certainly help to protect them. Also, it appears Taigo is attracted to Jaina.

He offers to let her speak with Saumon, the leader of the village (I introduced the character, but it wat really Winterbears’ idea).

Jaina kisses him on the cheek, which is how her people seal bargains. Taigo blushes. Anya, who was nearby, is not happy about this.

Scene 6.

Simon frames the scene. In Saumon’s house. Are present: Jaina, Taigo, Vron and Saumon, leader of the village. Jaina is showing off the plant to Saumon.

I’m interrupting, adding Anya to the scene. She’s stating that the Nomads are riding towards the village. (Chearns would later introduce a new tenet: Statements who are declared as facts must happen on camera.)

Saumon fears they are being attacked treacherously by the Nomads, and fears they can’t excape (they don’t have enough horses) or fight (they don’t have any warriors). So he decides to take Jaina and Vron as hostages. And this starts the first Complication of the game. Vron does not want to be bound. Four armed villagers, plus Saumon (who’s not the kind of leader who is afraid of getting his hands dirty) and Taigo, and Anya all try to restrain Vron and Jaina. Vron is a mighty warrior, but he’s no match against so many.

Also, Jaina tried to deflate the situation, claiming that she is certain her people means them no harm, and she would agree to surrender their weapons and put themselves in their custody in a gesture of good faith.

Winterbear gets narration, and states that everyone moves outside the house, and meet the Kurdak and his personal bodyguard. He has yellow eyes (a fact Simon and myself challenged, not wanting the assassin to appear again so soon; Winterbear negotiated that he does have yellow eyes, but is NOT the assassin) It is implied, though not stated explicitly, that he has two hands. It is said that he part of a people who are loyal exclusively to the Kurdak.

The nomads are escaping the Heat, established as a toxic mist. He wishes to bring his people as far away as possible, and leave the villagers to their fate. Jaina says it would go against their beliefs to abandon the villagers now that they have entered an agreement with them.

The Kurdak and Saumon speak together, and enter an uneasy agreement. The villagers have never heard of anything like it, and Saumon is sceptical, but it can’t hurt to have a few warriors protecting his people. He offers shelter to the Nomads in their houses of stone, but he asks to see this mist: he wont evacuate the village without proof the threat is genuine. He doesn’t really like the idea of a teenager being a leader of men, and his equal though he himself is in his late thirties, but he’s wise and knows not to antagonise the leader of the barbarians. He is however a bit embarrassed when the Kurdak seals their alliance with a kiss on the cheek.

End of Act 1

The Kurdak – Act 2

Winterbear had other commitments that day. He told us that we should get together and play anyway, and that he might join us later. He never actually got to join us though, and so we played the whole session without him.

Scene 7

I framed that scene. On the top a hill, north-west of the village, were Saumon, Vron and Taigo. The Kurdak lent horses to Saumon and Taigo so they could get there faster. They are here to see the toxic mist known as “the Heat”, Saumon wanting to see the threat himself. They could see the Heat was indeed a yellow mist extending as far west as the eye can see, but sticking to the ground, not rising higher than 40 or 50 meters.

Vron tells them his people believe the Heat is the result of actions from evil spirits. He is wearing white, black and red make-up as a protection against those spirits.

Saumon now believes the Heat presents a tangible threat, and agrees that they should evacuate the village. He knows of a place where they could hide, it’s uninhabited, as far as he knows, and predates the Great Cataclysm.

Scene 8

Simon frames the scene. Back at the village, Saumon asks the village’s priestess, Kwak, to tell them all the story of the Refuge.

I interrupted then, and took control of the priestess. She explained that the Refuge was built decades before the Great Cataclysm. A great war was brewing, and powerful weapons had been built that could destroy a whole city with a single shot. The Refuge was meant as protection against those weapons, but the war itself never came.

When the Great Cataclysm occurred, the villagers’ ancestors took shelter in the Refuge but were forced to leave…

(At that point, Simon said he wanted to challenge that, because he didn’t want the villagers to know where the Refuge was right away. He wanted them to look for it, because it would make a better story. I wanted to go straight into the action. Chris himself would have preferred to keep everyone in the village. We discussed it a bit, then I compromised.)

… they were forced to leave because Water Farmers had settled in the surrounding territory and it had become dangerous. They left and close the door of the shelter behind them, so it couldn’t profit the Water Farmers. Two generations were born afterwords, and no one remembers the way to the Refuge.

I was out of coins, and so the story went directly to my left, to Chris.
Chris set up a complication. There was an archer hiding silently in the shadows. He had a pre-cataclysm compound bow with razor tip arrow knocked in. Using his zen-like concentration, excellent vision, strong arms and fanatic belief in his duty, he prepared to shoot Saumon (all those qualities gave 9 dice to Chris’ pool).

Saumon (controlled by Simon) had his trained falcon bodyguard (that is a stretch, but we didn’t challenge it), also, it was dark, and the area was crowded. (This gave Simon 4 dice.)

Chris decided to add dice to his pool, stating that there was a full moon shining on Saumon, that the archer himself was hiding under a canopy (and therefore invisible to the falcon), and that a soft noise distracted Saumon, giving the archer the opportunity to strike. Chris had now 12 dice.

Unsurprisingly, Chris won the complication. The archer shoots Saumon in the neck, killing him on the spot. Blood splatters everywhere, Kwak throws herself on Saumon in grief, and Jack jumps on the Kurdak in order to protect him.

Scene 9

Chris frames this scene. During that time, Jaina and Taigo were sitting on Taigo’s bed, (fully clothed, Chris mentions), chatting. Jaina, who is knowledgeable in the sciptures, says that she believes this village to be a sanctuary for her people, and that they should never leave. There is a prophecy that says that the land where the beasts lie under the earth and breathe would bring prosperity to her tribe (or something like that).

Scene 10

Simon frames that scene. In the village right after the murder. The Kurdak notices that the wind is rising. He yells: the Heat is coming! (It was discussed previously that the mist would travel at the same speed as the wind, though that fact was never paid for). He orders the immediate evacuation of the village. Vron starts rallying people, telling the villagers without horses to hop in the wagons.

I interrupt. Jaina and Taigo hear the commotion outside, and a nameless villager comes in to tell them that Saumon was killed and now the Kurdak was ordering the evacuation of the village.

Jaina suspects the Kurdak might have got Saumon killed to assert his authority on the village. She tells Taigo they musn’t follow her brother, they should all stay in the village, she knowns they’ll be safe.

They get out of Taigo’s house, and meet Vron in the street. He immediately suspects her of being romantically involved with Taigo.

I set up a complication, as Jaina tries to convince Vron to help her convince everyone to stay in the village. All her traits give me 5 coins. Simon gets 4, after a bit of fiddling. We roll dice, I win. Jaina gives Vron an ultimatum: if he leaves, she will NEVER marry him. So he reluctantly agrees.

She climbs up a barrel, and give a rising speech to convince everyone to stay in the village. Her eloquence, as well as the presence of both Vron and Taigo at her side, sways a large proportion of both villagers and nomads.

Simon interrupts.

The Kurdak, however, leaves in disgust. Alone in a dark alley, he is followed by his bodyguard Jocko who knocks him out.

Scene 11

Chris frames the scene. It is a flashback, set some time before the previous flashback.

Sid (who will later be known as the Kurdak) is sitting in a tent with a soothsayer with yellow eyes. Jocko is in the background.

The soothsayer throws a few metal disks on the floor, with drawings of a star on one side, a hammer and sickle on the other.

She says she sees a man (who’s description matches Sid’s father) walking through the hills. Behind him are people with covered in boil and dripping pus (I think, I didn’t actually note that down. They have bad skin). Sid’s father is crying.

Chris adds a trait to the Kurdak (Sid): he will do anything for the sake of his tribe.

Scene 12

I frame that scene. In a dark place, the Kurdak wakes up. Jocko and two other yellow eyed guys are there.

There I decided to flesh out who those yellow eyed people were. They are called the Dalami. They are the descendants of another tribe that included into this tribe. Every kid that is born with yellow eyes is considered Dalami, and is trained to be a special agent of the Kurdak. It is also their responsibility to make sure the Kurdak does his duty.

The other two Dalami are called Iago and Rolski. The latter is recognized as the one who killed the Kurdak’s father. Jocko tells the Kurdak he is sorry he had to knock him out, but it was necessary. The Kurdak’s duty is to all his tribe, he cannot leave anyone behind. They must either all stay, or all leave.

The Kurdak thanks them for opening his eyes and bringing him back on the right path.

Iago says it’s not enough. Now they must take something from him. That is their way. They chop his left hand off. He cries in pain. The scene ends.

End of Act 2
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Valamir
Member

Posts: 5582


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« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2008, 06:02:29 PM »

Wow, this story is really cool.  I hope you play again and continue it.  I'm looking forward to seeing what happens when the heat reaches the village.
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Jumanji83
Member

Posts: 22


« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2008, 05:52:06 PM »

The Kurdak – Act 3

July 7th 2008. This time, it was Chearns who couldn’t make it. Winterbear was back, and got the same number of coins he had at the end of the first act (11), though we had given him the option of getting 30 extra coins, since that’s what he would have gotten had he been there during the second act without actually spending anything. Simon had 15, and I had 12. Chearns had 27, but will sadly never get the chance to spend them.

It’s been two since the last time we played, and we had to read over the story so far to make sure we wouldn’t forget any loose ends. I still had my notes, but they were a bit messy, with some of the character traits all spread over the place. Next time I’ll play, I’ll make sure each character gets his own sheet.

Scene 13

The scene was framed by Robin. We are in the underground pens (where it was earlier established the villagers keep their livestock). New fact: there is not enough room all villagers AND Nomads.

Robin creates a new character. Eta is a tribesman who’s having second thoughts about following Jaina, a woman, to the tribe’s doom. He rallies the other hunters of the tribe against Jaina.

Now, I don’t want a new character to be added to the story at that point. So I enter a complication. Vron comes out of the shadows and stabs Eta with a spear. Vron, a Nomad Scout, armed with a Spear, with an interest to defend Jaina as he wants to marry her. He has the advantage of Surprise as well. I get 5 dice. Eta being a Nomad Hunter, and being surrounded by people gives Robin three dice. As luck would have it, we get the same number of successes (2), but mine have a greater value, so we roll again, and I add a dice. This time a win, I get 5 coins to narrate the outcome. Vron kills Eta (cost: 3 coins) and the tribe is convinced that Jaina’s leadership is not weak.

Scene 14

This scene was framed by myself. It is set in Jaina’s chambers. She’s there, with Taigo, and they just made love. Jaina and Taigo are in love, but Jaina says she can’t marry him yet, as she needs Vron’s support. Taigo secretly resolves to kill Vron.

Scene 15

Simon frames this scene. In the village, Iago of the Dalami, and the Kurdak are agreeing that they don’t have time to convince everyone to leave, and if they are to stay here, they need to make some room for the tribe. They notice a number of villagers going into the warehouse in order to collect supplies, and resolve to burn them alive. This will reduce the numbers of villagers enough to ensure they is now room in the Pens for all.

Scene 16

Robin frames the scene. A couple of hours later, 2 miles south of the village, close to where the Heat is.. In the background, the warehouse burns. But the villagers that were in the warehouse are here, surrounded by the Dalami. The latter made alterations to the plan. With great ceremony, they force the villagers into the yellow Mist. The Mist is the same color of the Dalami’s eyes.

I interrupt. I introduce Anya, who is amongst the villagers thrown in the Mist. She dies.

Robin takes back narration. Mini-scene: Taigo is weeping in front of the burning warehouse, guilt-ridden over the death of Anya, blaming himself as he was sleeping with Jaina when it happened.

Back to the Heat. Not everyone that is thrown in the Mist die. Some survive, but with the same yellow eyes as the Dalami.

Simon adds that they are disfigured beyond recognition

Scene 17

I frame this scene. It is morning, the fire has been put out, but the remaining villagers and the tribe are suspicious of a very convenient fire. Vron and Jaina try to keep the peace, but Taigo is elsewhere.

Enter the Kurdak, who wants to duel Jaina for leadership of the tribe. “If a woman wants to lead, she must be prepared to fight.

Simon interrupts, takes control of Vron. The latter insists to fight in her stead. The Kurdak reluctantly accepts. We roll dice for the complication, Simon wins narration. Vron kills the Kudak. Jaina leads her people into the pens, and seal the doors shut behind them.

Scene 18

Robin frames the scene. In the deserted town square, Jacko claims the body of the Kurdak. He carries it south, leaving his people. He is effectively removed from the story as well, all his traits now paid for.

Scene 19

Simon frames. Iago and the Dalami enter the deserted village. They call out for the villagers and nomads to open the door, with no reply. They grab a beam from the burnt warehouse, and try to knock the door down.

At the last moment, it opens, and Jaina appears.

Phade to black.

Scene 20

Robin frames the scene. We are deep within the pens, only a few moments before the last scene. Kwak, the great priestess of the village, shows Jaina, Taigo and Vron the great secret of the village. There is a secret door that leads to an underground system of caves and tunnels. There, clean water flows in rivers. The tunnels lead to the old haven of the tribe (nuclear shelter mentioned early in act 2). We hear banging on the door of the pens, the Dalami want to come in. Their intentions are unknown, they were loyal only to the Kurdak. Jaina says she’ll try and distract them, slow them down, until everyone’s gone through the tunnels.

Simon interrupts. Vron notices Jaina and Taigo acting a bit too friendly for his tastes. He now wants to kill Taigo. To further his plans, he invites him to go scouting ahead of the others.

I interrupt, and say that Taigo is reluctant, and suspicious of Vron. He asks a few villagers to come with them. Vron gets a few nomads to come with them too.

Jaina asks Kwak to gather everyone else, while she answers the door.

Scene 21

I frame this scene. We are at the Pens’ entrance. The Heat is now upon the village, covering it with yellow mist. The Dalami are unaffected, but Jaina, now bound in ropes, is suffocating, and falls on the ground. One of Dalami reports that the pens are deserted. Iago manhandle Jaina and tries to get her to reveal where her people has gone, but she’s just rolls her eyes…

Robin interrupts: Jaina is only feigning unconsciousness. She is left without supervision. Pus on her hands make the ropes slippery, and she successfully crawls away, into a hiding place.

I interrupt. She opens her eyes. They are now yellow.

Robin interrupts again. She falls unconscious as she hears a motor.

Scene 22

Simon frames this scene. Taigo, Vron and their followers are walking in the tunnels. Water harvesters arrive and they attack. Vron accuses Taigo to be in league with them. They stop bickering long enough to dispose of the threat, understanding in disgust that all the water in those caves is harvested water! Though they win the day and dispose of the Harvesters, Vron is mortally wounded. In his dying breath, he makes his peace with Taigo and gives him his blessing. (Simon, at this point, had so many coins, in comparison to Robin and myself, that he could pretty much narrate whatever he wanted. There was no way that we could have supported a Complication against him.)

Scene 23

I frame this scene, with frequent interventions by Simon and Robin. This is mostly exposition. Jaina awakes in a white room. It is very clean, like she has never seen before. Enters Dr. Helski, who reveals to her

-   A long time ago, a new energy source, very powerful, but also very volatile, was discovered. But there was an accident, that caused the Great Cataclysm.
-   The Heat is man-made, a tragic secondary effect of a necessary pruning process for making the land healthy. Essentially, the yellow mist is the waste of vehicles that clean up the land of pollutants that were the result of an accident.
-   Some people are immune to the effects of the Heat. They become Dalami. We need the Dalami as a bridge with the other tribes, to build a new tomorrow.
-   The nuclear shelter is where they are now. The Water Harvesters took it from the villagers, and the Dalami later took it from the Water Farmers.
-   The Water Farmers were once part of the project, but since have gone wrong.

Dr. Helski wants to recruit Jaina, but she recoils in horror at all the death in the cause of progress. “You are a monster, you killed my mother.” Jaina is sedated. Phade to black.

Scene 24.

I’m not sure who framed this one. Pass the waterfall, further down the tunnel, Taigo sees light. Here, the walls are concrete, and there is a gate at the end. Electric lights flared on. He is told to throw down his weapon, and he does.

Scene 25.

I frame the scene, again with numerous interventions by the other players. Three years later, Jaina is in the forest. She has regret over all the lives that were lost, but she has now reconciled with the project, and has taken an active part in it. Her husband, Taigo, soon joins her, and they walk into a domed city, created and built under Jaina’s direction to protect those not immune to the Heat.

The End

Now, my impressions of the game. Universalis kick’s ass! It is a very fun game, and we have lots of freedom in creating really special stories, and no one really knows what is going to happen until the end.

Still, I believe we did not have a very strong grasp of the rules. It’s my fault, really, I was the one supposed to have read them. Often, we interrupted when it wasn’t necessary, as play goes automatically to the player to our left. Also, we were often fuzzy on the concept of control, master- and sub-components. We had fun, so, no regrets, though now I’d like to play a game with a better understanding of the rules.

It seems our group wasn’t very at ease with the competitive aspect of the game, at least at first. It took a while before we got a grasp of the Complications rules, and our Challenges seldom went past the Negotiation stage.

If and when we ever play again, this time I’ll make sure we organize our notes better. Flash card for different components would be a must, as we often got lost in our notes.
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