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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13299 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 51 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [IaWA] Zartan's Pride  (Read 2763 times)
jasin
Member

Posts: 3


« on: December 04, 2009, 08:13:25 AM »

Story

In a wicked age, a young warrior, initiate into a warrior cult, climbs a desert cliff. The stones crumble; the cliff shakes. His god Burnaburiash, vengeful and jealous, is displeased by the lapses of his followers, however scrupulously they observe, and the warrior has lapsed greatly: the god's temple was pillaged.

"At the shrine of Hadir Eil, you will find those who have offended me. Slay them, and let no harm come to the priestess." The words, less than a whisper, more than a scream, form in the young warrior's mind, and he vows to obey.

The mountain rests, and the warrior reaches the ridge. A pair of lions await him at the top. His name is Zartan; he is their brother.

At the oasis of Hadir Eil, four travelers reach the wayside shrine, and the priestess welcomes them and offers them shelter. But both keep a secret. The travelers are rogues and robbers, intending the shrine to be their next conquest; the priestess is a siren-ghoul, who entices the amorous into deadly peril.

In the dead of night, the youngest of the travelers, Asha, skulks about the shrine, looking for the entrance to the holy of holies, where fabulous wealth is kept in all temples to Burnaburiash.

She is startled by a rustling of silk. Behind her, the priestess Anagalmeshu stands leaning on a pillar, clad in a diaphanous gown. "Come, little one. I will show you a sanctuary more secret than the one you seek." Asha hesistates, but the priestess's voice is as soft as the silk she wears and as hard as the stones she treads; she cannot be denied.

The priestess is occupied. Asha's brothers Aram, Adar and Arod, because such they are, penetrate the sanctuary undisturbed. Gems glitter; silver sparkles.

But they are not alone. Zartan has come to Hadir Eil, and his lions, and they bar the way. Claws tear; blades flash. Lion's blood stains the floor, and in a desperate sally, the thieves escape, with but a single jewel as their spoils, vowing never to anger Burnaburiash again. But another jewel remains in its stead. Asha lies with Anagalmeshu still.

Perhaps she hears her brothers fight; perhaps she sees a glint of silver in her hair, long before its time, in one of Anagalmeshu's mirrors. Asha flees the priestess's loving, killing embrace.

"Stay, little one, and see the holy of holies. See the gems that glitter, the silver that sparkles." Love of brothers is strong; love of life is stronger; love of wealth is stronger still. And Asha stays.

Anagalmeshu throws open the brazen door to the sanctuary of Hadir Eil. "Behold the treasure of Hadir Eil! All of it mine, all of it ours, all of it yours."

"All of it god's." Zartan stayed as well. He is dangerous and wild, and Anagalmeshu scowls. He is young and strong, and Anagalmeshu smiles. "God is served in various ways. He delights in the spilling of various bloods, and the the thrusts of various swords. Stay, and rest for a day, warrior." But Zartan looks into the priestess's eyes and knows the day will lengthen into a month, and the month into a year, and a year into a lifetime, and the day will not end before his life does.

He mounts the lion as an ordinary man would a horse, and rides out of the gate of Hadir Eil. Anagalmeshu calls after him. Her soft plea is louder than a command, her hand on his arm stronger than a shackle. "Stay, for a year and a day, warrior, and no longer. This I swear. You will be wise with the things I will teach you." An oath before Burnaburiash is unbreakable and Zartan accepts.

But a storm comes in from the desert. Aram, Adar and Arod ride on swift desert horses, the jewel they gained dulled in compare to the one they lost. "You return for your sister. Here she is. Stay with her and serve Burnaburiash." Asha runs past the priestess to her brothers, and they turn to flee. But Zartan and the lion bar their way. Blades flash; claws tear. Four lie dead on the sands. Asha mourns her brothers and the lion his.

Asha submits to the priestess Anagalmeshu, to pray for mercy for her brothers. The lion remains for a year and a day. Then he wanders into to the desert, and whether he is a lion or something else beside, none can say in this wicked age; save perhaps Burnaburiash.

Thoughts

Zartan, Burnaburiash and the adventurer siblings were the PCs (with the adventurers being treated as a single PC). Their particular strengths were, respectively: Brother to Lions (potent, usable Directly), Command Followers (far-reaching, usable... not sure? With Love, I think), and Treasure Scent (broad, usable Covertly and For Myself). Their best interests were to please Burnaburiash (Zartan), to punish his followers (Burnaburiash), and to accumulate treasure (the adventurers).

Anagalmeshu the siren-ghoul NPC had Psychosexual Vampire, or something like that, I neglected to name it explicitly. And I forgot to give it a significance boost, so it was just a d8, no special trait. Her best interest was to steal everyone's precious bodily fluids.

Interesting how the character that was, in concept, most appropriate for a sword & sorcery hero topped the We Owe list. Also interesting, no one used the list for advantage dice, and we still ended up with only two entries on the list (Zartan and the adventurers). I guess the PC were pretty forceful (too forceful?) and mostly just used their best forms.

The weakest part of the game was an overlong negotiation between Zartan's player and the adventurers' player when Zartan jumped them in Hadir Eil's treasury.

Largely, it can be attributed to the players having trouble grasping the pretty strange concept that you can lose the round (or even the whole conflict) but still get to narrate winning whatever the conflict is about (but losing advantage or taking consequences). For example, in a round where he was the answerer and lost, Zartan offered to the adventurer that they keep the treasure they looted, but suffer a Curse of Bleeding Wounds, which makes them easier for his lions to track, so he finds them again some distance out in the desert.

Considering both of their goals were pretty closely tied with the treasure, it seems to me that this is the exact opposite of what his narration should be: he could have made them, purely through narration, relinquish the treasure, but when they next come to blows (whether days later somewhere in the desert, or seconds later still in the shrine) it is Zartan who should suffer some disadvantaging circumstance, not the adventurers.

Strangely, IaWA is perhaps more fun to remember than to play. Most other games are most fun while they're actually going on. Of course, some high points will be remembered, retold and grow in the telling, but mostly, it's more fun to kill orcs and take their stuff, than remember doing it. IaWA ultimately produces a better narrative than many games, but the actual play by is chopped up by even more OOC talk and rewinding and rewriting of the fiction than usual. Then again, maybe it gets less distracting as people get a better handle on rules, particularly the negotiations.

All in all, success!

Everyone had fun, and Burnaburiash's player went from "what the fuck is this shit?" (exact quote) at his first look at the game, to "this is fun, let's play more, I've never seen a game emulate its chosen genre better".

In fact, even though the above story might make Burnaburiash seem uninteresting, he was perhaps the player that best grasped IaWA's unusual (for us accustomed to traditional RPGs) mode of play. His contributions were mostly subtle (so much so that it was hard to describe them explicitly above without breaking the narrative) nudges of the other characters into conflict with each other.
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Ry
Member

Posts: 216


« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2010, 11:16:35 AM »

Strangely, IaWA is perhaps more fun to remember than to play. Most other games are most fun while they're actually going on. Of course, some high points will be remembered, retold and grow in the telling, but mostly, it's more fun to kill orcs and take their stuff, than remember doing it. IaWA ultimately produces a better narrative than many games, but the actual play by is chopped up by even more OOC talk and rewinding and rewriting of the fiction than usual. Then again, maybe it gets less distracting as people get a better handle on rules, particularly the negotiations.
I'm not at all surprised that you had this in a first outing.  Trust me that the flow becomes much more natural as people understand both the explicit rules ("Wait, who's got the Stick?" disappears) and develop some implicit skills ("Hey, can I walk in on this?" they ask the GM, and the GM says... "Sure!" or "You're walking down the hall, but you haven't heard them yet." or "I'm going to let them talk for another minute first." or whatever, depending on what feels right).
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