Actual Play

Dragon*Con 2010 - Arnold

posted Sep 13, 2010, 8:03 AM by Arnold Cassell

Well, it ended with a fizzle.


Didn't make.  Didn't sell a ticket.
So I made up something.  I figured it was time to throw a curve into it.  Kagematsu's secret is revealed to everyone at large.  Everyone in the valley finds out that it was Kagematsu all along who orchestrated this unwelcome winter.

You see, he went into the cave, a wanderer, lost and alone.  He wished for respect and companionship.  When he emerged from the cave, there was a temple where one was not before, and he was the head priest.  Then a demon forced the desperate villages to send women to him to entreat his "priestly" services to scare it off.

This time everyone knows it.

My Life with Master:

Sold out, but only two players showed up.  No players for Unending River, so I talked Paul into playing my game instead.  The master (who managed to remain unnamed the entire game!) was a warrior who had heard this cave's story.  He considered the character of Kagematsu to be "weak and petty, to use such a power with such little understanding of it's potential."

The Master was a Brute and a Teacher, hoping to spread his school of fighting arts across the world.  The Outsiders were an envoy from the capitol come to weigh and measure his techniques.

Three neat characters, some creepy scenes, lots of failures (including failed overtures, which just rock.)  One was sent to waylay the envoy and kill two of the four members.  One was sent to a local temple to retrieve 10 students of the Master who had fled from his training.  One began the game captured, after being beat up by some random passing thugs.

The Master was not kind to the third, and then sent him to destroy a local farmer whom he suspected of rebellion.  That particular Minion decided to "destroy" the farmer by setting his house in disorder and against him.  It backfired spectacularly, when the farmer walked in on the Minion and the farmer's wife.  The farmer was pleased with the thought of stealing some of the Minion's power through breeding, and retrieved additional women for him to impregnate.

The others didn't fare too well themselves.  The one sent to kill got captured, then tried to befriend one of his targets.  [The two members of teh envoy from the Capitol that the Master wanted dead were a meddling old man and his grandson.  The Master would rather spare the lives of the other two in the envoy, so that they could do their jobs and witness the awesome power of the Master.]  He managed to make friends with the grandson, who hadn't realized the Minion's intent, even after he "accidentally" killed the grandfather.  The Minion retrieved a priest to preside over the grandfather's cremation, and the Master showed up and demanded that the Minion throw the grandson into the pyre.  The Minion tried to resist, but couldn't.

The other Minion overcame the temple's defenses and commanded the 10 runaways and got them back to the Master, who then ordered the Minion to kill them.  The Minion refused, which cost him an ear, but he was forced to slaughter them anyway.  He ran away for a time, into town to the baker's house.  She was startled to discover such a monster in her home, but they eventually come to the same table over a cookie.  The Master arrived shortly after, incensed that everything was falling apart around him (having been forced to reveal himself to get his Minions to carry out their duty, and having these farmers continue to rebel in front of the watchful eye of the Capitol envoy, etc)  He ordered this Minion to go and slaughter the farmers, and anyone who knew of this plan (which included the baker, as she was standing right there.)

The Minion refused, and the two were locked in Mortal combat.

Our third Minion, still trying to fulfill his duty, killed the women he had been paired with by the farmer, and chased the farmer to the temple, but he couldn't burn it down for fear of killing the spirit that lived there.  Cursing his cowardice, he went in to carry out the job personally.  The farmer overcame him, and the Minion's hand was caught on a hook in the cooking fire.  This Minion perished in flames, while the farmer's children watched from the shadows (as they had done when he "visited" the farmer's wife.)

Our second Minion defeated the Master, but then went to the Master's school high upon the mountain and set it ablaze.  The Minion stayed and perished within.

Our first Minion ran and ran for many years, but the two surviving members of the Capitol envoy set up a school on the charred remains of the old one.  They were the ones to finally capture the Minion, and he died by their hands.

Dogs in the Vineyard: ?


Besides, it would have interfered with the parade, which was awesome.

Ingenuous: ?

Usagi Yojimbo:

Didn't sell a single ticket.

Little Fears:

I played LF instead.  I'll let Paul talk about that game.

Misspent Youth:

The Authority was a Religious entity, motivated by Greed and consuming humanity.  I really hated this authority!  They made you eat their food substances exclusively, and performed regular mandatory cleansings of your body to keep track of what you ingested.  Jerks!  They also made you minister to others, to keep track of your religious education.  And they outlawed all forms of PDA!  Even holding hands!  They even controlled your income, stealing 50% of it for "tithes".

The clique was a group of ex-child actors.  The Authority controlled the air now, so they were out of work.  Many tropes were represented, ranging "so pretty you can't tell if he's gay" to "smokes while he kicks ass."

They started out in an Authority sponsored cafeteria, trying to get breakfast, but caused trouble.  The Authority won and put them in isolation and "special sermons" for a few days, but they were reunited for group therapy.  They got information from the doctor there (using one of the Y.O.'s "trusted" convictions to win it, perfect!)

The Authority had discovered a site beneath the ground that they could use to brainwash particularly rebellious people.  They were about to step up production.  But the y.o.s got down there and figured out that it was "the cave."  Not long afterward, they figured out the cave's power was consolidated in what appeared to be a young girl.

They convinced her to leave and come with her to their hideout.  She resisted, but they proved entertaining enough.

But it was an ambush.  The Authority had sent agents to trap the Y.O.s, and after a bloody struggle with the minions, the real Authority showed up.

The Y.O.s and the Authority each tried to convince "the cave" to come to their side.  The Authority offered thousands, millions of worshipers (as "she" was much enamored with people who worshiped her) but the Y.O.s won in the end by convincing her that their admiration and respect, their desires were more pure.

Quality wins over Quantity when it comes to Desire.

Garage Band: ?

GenCon 2010 - Arnold

posted Aug 19, 2010, 3:15 PM by Arnold Cassell

For GenCon, it fell out as follows:
Kagematsu plays first, with each game skipping a few hundred years into the future, more or less.
We began in a distant past, struggling to wipe winter away from a valley that needed spring. A supernatural beast was squatting there, and only with the aid of the priest Kagematsu could anyone hope to drive it away. Half the cast, and countless other villagers perished in that desperate time, but it ended as a fairy tale, with one cunning old woman being restored to youth. She and her "priest" left and wandered the earth, convinced they were immortal.

The secret of this adventure, revealed to the player of Kagematsu, is that whole elaborate scheme of forcing women to entreat promises from Kagematsu is "her" (that nameless power living in the cave) way of finding him "respect and companionship." This time it worked, more or less. Last time (ConCarolinas) it ended in disaster, and that time "she" had far less confidence in future episodes that she should be using her power on mortals at all.

My Life with Master ran in a dual session with Unending River. The minions in this game were serving a brutish teacher of a "vastly superior" form of martial arts, as he began to spread his teachings to distant lands. An envoy from the capitol arrived to survey his work, and everything fell apart. The other table also provided ample opportunity for antagonism, not to the players' efforts directly, but to the Master's. He would, in turn, take it out on the minions.

My Life with Master went pretty well for me. To be honest, I have a hard time running a game of MLwM when one of the players is trying to destroy the tension with the use of flippant humor, but it seemed most everyone had a good time. We did manage to get a few cross-talk actions going between this Unending River, and we have ideas to better the interaction next time.

Behind the screens here, the Master was gaining power from the "her" in this cave, and the Unending River monks were sent there to investigate, and possibly seal this font of power to restore balance. We ended the MLwM session with the Master dying at one of the minion's hands (she later reincorporated into society.) Two other minions were destroyed by the town, as their only option, and the last ran to the hills, finding another master to serve (and more than likely spreading this terrible combat form along the way.)

This was the first time we added this part into the story, so without the feedback sheet in front of me, I'd be hard pressed to nail down what "she" learned from it, but I know I took away several characters from this session to populate into later episodes.

I hear Dogs in the Vineyard went well for Paul, although I still don't have all the details. He reworked Dogs into a dungeon crawl, eliminating the d10 for gunplay, but stepping up all fallout if there's magic involved. So a magical duel of words deals d6, for example. Tragedy strikes as some village children disappear, and the only lead is into a cave in the mountains. I know he used "trapped rooms" and such as raises, treating floors of the dungeon as NPCs, but I didn't catch the game so all I know for certain was what was on our feedback and summary sheet.

DonJon, dear DonJon. I see what you are designed to do, and you do it well. Players are empowered to explore whatever they are interested in, and impose their willpower onto the stage. And you were picked because of that. But too many times now, we've seen that when players are allowed to get away with anything, they want to get away with silly. DonJon, you won't be missed.

The session description for this episode is that it's only a generation after the events of the DitV game. Where as the players in DitV are encouraged to be respectful of the trials ahead of them, and of the danger and muddy morality presented to them, it's fun to have their kids adopt a "Whatever you say, old man. I'm goin out adventurin for ale and whores!" stance. In the end, we had an Ogre, and Orc, a (fabulous) Elf, and a Beholder leave behind the pig-farming town of FarTown (a name carried forward from the DitV game). They smashed up some skeletons, looted each other (both in the middle of, and outside of combat,) talked down a Windigo and convinced him to show them the way to the cave, pummeled a truckload of Kobolds, and pretty much got exactly what they were looking for.

Two of them were there primarily for money, and got tons. One was looking for wives, and found enough to found and empire (which is totally staying in the fiction, as it was awesome.) The last of them discovered the true hiding place, and came in contact with the she who is not yet named, and demanded to know the secret to her power. We rolled it, cause it was a great ending either way, but the player lost. Such a pity.

No secrets here, they came in direct contact. She learned how utterly fun mortals are as toys.

Ingenuous? Wherefore art thou? Maybe Paul can catch me up soon... I know it's steampunk, and last time we got to this point, he had the agents on a quest for a more reliable power source, delving into forgotten depths of the mines.

The Usagi Yojimbo game I had was the best one of the bunch, and that's saying a lot. Before the background noise got unbearably, disruptively loud, we got some good roleplaying done and laid pretty good foundations. I felt more in tune with Jeromie and with the Keiko character than I have in the past. (Both explained in a moment.) I had one exceptionally good player (you know who you are, Greg) who, intentionally or not, always opened the door for me to drive the plot and have a good time.

So by now the story has caught up with more or less modern times, and Jeromie has wished he could play this game he has (Usagi Yojimbo) with his friends in a "more real" way. Wish granted, with some complications of course. The Little Fears game runs simultaneously with this one, hence the kid characters. All four of the players instantly bought in to the double layer of this game, and we were talking at the table as the children, not as the players/GM.

Jeromie doesn't know why this is all working the way it is, but his friends are inside a virtual world playing this game (OMG! This is so awesome, guys!) when he picks up a signal inside the game that looks like a girl trapped there. The kids storm the castle to find out who, and discover Keiko, the avatar of the unnamed goddess. Except she really likes it in here, because there aren't any real people, and she doesn't have to grant any real wishes (now that she's set this gig up for Jeromie.)

At the same time, the kids in Little Fears are dealing with what's left of her power. Without a head to control it, it's causing nightmares and chaos, and kids always seem to be at the center of things.

So my table had to choose between letting Keiko get what she wants, or fixing the world at large. And, for perfectly childish reasons, they decided to let her stay, mostly to get revenge on Jeromie for sticking them in a computer game!

Misspent Youth, at 8am on a Sunday, I was impressed that I had three people. I believe we all understand the game better now than we did, and despite some "wait, what now?" moments with the resolution mechanics, it was fluid and dark. 5 times the characters chose to sell out, and always they were driven to make those descriptions and actions brutal and meaningful. As for how it related to the story? Only passingly. I have high hopes for DragonCon, but this time I don't think the players were aware that this was part of anything larger than them.

And that's totally okay. I picked it because this session takes place in the future, and the characters are kind of forced to inherit the crap that came before them, and they're fighting back! That, and the game has a lot of player framed scenes. Maybe if some of the players from earlier sessions had come back for this one, it would have been different? But we do tell people up front that each of these games can be played alone, and will stand up alone as whole stories.

Garage Band? Supposedly, the mountain has been flooded by now, and it's just an island resort. Supposedly, the players are band members, trying to make it onto the scene. Supposedly, when they start writing songs about the island, they are haunted by the ghosts of previous sessions. I really want to play in this session at DragonCon, but we'll see if I can. I didn't even get to do a review/feedback form with Paul before we got on the plane to head out, so I have very little information indeed.


So this time, by virtue of several events throughout, I think the ineffable "she" in this Cave of Wanders story delighted in the realization that "mortals are such fun toys" to play with. That helped characterize her actions in later games, and really sold me on the power of running this set multiple times; she was much different by the end of it last time. At ConCarolinas her interractions left her pretty much despondent and she was taking out her frustrations on the sessions rather than being much help at all. Before that at RoundCon, the players had more impact on locations and props than on her, but it was just a matter of gaining our footing, I suppose.

We'll get one more go of this at Dragon*Con, and then maybe to bed with it.

I've rambled long enough. Thanks for reading?

Concarolinas 2010 - Arnold

posted Jun 10, 2010, 8:08 PM by Paul At Regret Games

So, didn't take as detailed notes, (nor do I believe people want to read all that nonsense anyhow,) so here goes:


The con was TOO DAMNED NOISEY to do any gaming!  Seriously, we left the room and went to our hotel rooms for EVERY SESSION except DonJon.  Wow.  But the people, they were nice.  Most of the players were people Paul and I know through the convention circuits we run, but we got some new members to add to the plot mix.


With only one player, the session looked doomed.  But my girlfriend offered to play Kagematsu, and I offered to be an additional player instead, and poof!  We had a thirty something villager with about even stats, a little more Charm than Innocence, and a young girl (claiming 12, but roleplayed as around 8) with much more Innocence than Charm.

Both went to the temple on the mountain as representatives of their village to plead for Kagematsu's help.  The entire valley was under a supernaturally prolonged winter, and they fear that only the priest (Kagematsu) can help.

Kagematsu settled into the role pretty quickly, and our village woman tried to garner some affection with some well played scenes, but the fates wouldn't allow it.  Desperations were called in and lost, and a slow spiraling downfall.  What almost always happened was that she would win the first Affection in a scene, and then stay in the scene for a follow on (or two) linking them together very well, but then fail the third one spectacularly.

This means, according to the game rules, that her Fear rating doesn't decrease, and she remains ever pessimistic about her fate, not believing that Kagematsu is willing or able to help her.

The young girl got some good scenes in here or there, but it seemed as if Kagematsu was more or less humoring her.  She even managed to pry a secret out of him, but it had little to do with the story at hand.  (Something Kagematsu regretted in retrospect.)  She was interrupted by The Threat! only once, in trying to elicit the final promise.

Then the woman tried the promise, and was denied.  It was a beautifully roleplayed scene, her rolling and not adding enough, and then having absolutely no desperations left (she had already tried all of them and failed them.)

The girl got the promise after some wrangling, and Kagematsu went to the mountaintop to fight the beast.  The woman had a ton of Fear still (6 dice!) which she chose to roll.  The girl didn't want to add her 4 Fear to that, instead charging the mighty serpent and being crushed utterly by it's massive tail.

In the end, Kagematsu couldn't defeat the beast, and the game ended in ice, blood, and regret.


This game revolves around first time adventurers looking to look a nearby cave that their parents and their parent's parents have warned them against visiting.  But they're brash and young, so what could go wrong?

Three characters, all stereotypical fantasy types.  Dwarf, Elf, and Deathknight.  So the traditional buying of equipment is had, because I love doing it and it shows people how the looting system works and the dice.  One of the character got tossed out and had to have others get stuff for him, and two of the three haggled for questionably magical items from a traveling salesman.

Straight out of the gate they encounter a pair of Munuane demons, which the three of them manage to overcome after much chaos.  Fish filled river waves attacked them, trees were felled, and many arrows flew.

The Windigo showed up to mourn for his friends, and told the adventurers that he would not tell them where the cave was, "For you will use it to seek power, as I and my friends already have.  But you have power enough already."

The Dwarf out-dumbed him in a triple reversal lie, and the direction that the Windigo told them not to go was in fact the way they didn't go which led to the cave.

At the cave's mouth they found many bodies, and looted them to great effect, finding pretty much anything they could think to ask for.  Deeper in the cave they encountered two stone guardians, which the Dwarf didn't feel were a threat.

He was very wrong.

In the middle of the fight, a voice asked "What more do you want?  Was that not enough"

The Deathknight actually said out loud, in character, that he wanted to be rid of his curse, and we cut to him pulling off his helmet as flesh, muscle, and skin are stitching themselves over his bones, teeth and jaws healing old cracks as it all happened.  Cool!

The Dwarf continued to fight mercilessly, as the Elf cast a spell to open the door (and declare what was on the other side!)  They found the entity inside the cave, but the (now healed and un-cursed) former Deathknight didn't follow them.  He was done.  The Elf had to drag the Dwarf in, as he had been savagely beaten by the guardians.

The Dwarf was barely conscious, but still mumbling "Treasure!" in a raspy voice.  We zoom in on the entity crying bitter, neglected tears which turn into gemstones as they hit the greedy bleeding Dwarf's hands

Usagi Yojimbo

A full table!  All six characters!  I didn't split the party up, as I initially intended (and certainly will do from now on) so they began at the main gates of a castle.  (They were all kids who knew Jeromie, and Jeromie had talked them into trying this computer game.  When Jeromie flips the switch, they get transported into the game!)

So Jeromie tells them there's another girl in there, who looks "as different from everything else as you guys do.  Maybe she's trapped?"  They mercilessly march through the area, totally blowing over all the defenses I had planned.  (It will totally be harder next time, I promise.)  When half of them make it to the girl, the other half are ambushed by a huge wolf.

Cut between dialogue scenes with her, as she mocks them petulantly.  "I can grant wishes, like this one, for Jeromie."  (Insert player making a wish.) "No."  (Maniacal laughter.)  "It doesn't count here.  You're not real, and I'm safe here from all of that."

Jeromie can only hear half the conversation (as he's not in the game with them,) and the other kids are having a hard time trying to get the upper hand on this wolf, who isn't going down.  In the confused chaos, one of the players (who has left the virtual game by way of daring the girl to kick him out) is monkeying around with the controls so much that he begins pulling people at random out.

In all that, somehow the wolf gets out in the body of one of the children... and those that get left behind as the system shuts down see only darkness.


The confusion and chaos, and Paul's games for the most part not making, made it really hard to tie these adventures together in a meaningful way.  But I'm optimistic for the future.  I have some good ideas and fuel for my future session offerings, and some hearty appreciation for what a focused party can do in Usagi.  Dialogue will change next time in almost all three of these games, as I get a clearer hold on what direction I want to push, but hey, all things considered, I had a great time.

The new sheets Paul and I are using between sessions are more focused, and more useful.

TurboCon 2010 - Paul

posted May 1, 2010, 8:02 PM by Paul At Regret Games   [ updated May 5, 2010, 12:15 PM ]

A handful of games at this year's TurboCon. Friday night, we played Happy Birthday Robot, a story-making game that effectively creates its own AP. A lot of unexpected fun with this one. Evidence follows.

Happy Birthday, Robot!

Robot's dreadknight exploded into action, but imploded.

The enemy blanched, but cackled with nervous laughter as Robot cowered and cried.

Robot secretly readied his counter-attack and reloaded his portable (but highly illegal) nuke.

"Eat uranium, douche bag!" Robot yelled and fired away gleefully... but he totally missed.

His shots killed many (but not good) people, and the enemy smirked at him.

Robot vanquished and spanked all lackeys with his fish man.

Then Robot transformed and the enemy malfunctioned on sight.

Nearly vanquished, the enemy made his false confession, but Robot was nobody's fool today.

"This is my cake and birthday party!" Robot shouted, but his enemy continued eating.

Heedless, Robot mercilessly fired his final and most powerful weapon towards him.

Then he woke up.

"Always... the same dream...

"Stupid McDonald's birthdays."

Robot locked and loaded.

And Robot was happy.

"F*cking clowns."

RoundCon 2010 - Arnold

posted Feb 3, 2010, 11:53 PM by Paul At Regret Games   [ updated Feb 3, 2010, 11:55 PM ]

Oh, for the recap.

RoundCon 2010 was a success.  Our Cave of Wanders went pretty well for a first time.  I got to see what Paul was planning for his three games, and he got to see mine.  We filled our our worksheets interviews between games so that we knew what was important and what should echo in future games both at RoundCon and other conventions.  I'd like to think it was universally great, especially in that when things did go wrong, Paul and I were both almost immediately certain of a corrective action.

At any rate.


The premise changed slightly, in that (for the story) Kagematsu was the head priest at a small castle (though that might not be the appropriate word) and that each Villager had been sent to him from a separate village.  The Threat was a holy beast that had taken up residence in the Valley, and was causing Winter to choke out Spring and threaten the survival of the people.  They all knew that Kagematsu was their only hope, so here we begin.

I can't go scene for scene here, because there were a LOT of scenes and my notes aren't that detailed, but I'll try for what I can.  "Katy" was already at the (temple/castle outside the cave, from here on I'll just say temple) when Kagematsu returned from a visit to a nearby couple.  He engaged in conversation with the other, older priests about a troubled couple he was just visiting, until "Katy" inserted herself into the situation.  She went straight for a compliment, advising Kagematsu on how to handle the troubled couple, and offering to go with him next time.

"Kiera" "Shi" and "Sawako" all had similarly brief first scenes, entering the temple and trying to elicit a smile or a stolen glance from the young priest.  Most were successful without desperation.  One of the more memorable ones came from "Sawako."  As Kagematsu was walking down a hallway, looking to the floor and mumbling something under his breath, she stood in his path and waited.  When the floorboards creaked unexpectedly, he paused and looked up, all the way up to a beaming, innocent smile.  The dice commanded that he smile back.

When "Alheera" finally got a chance to introduce herself into the fiction, Kagematsu was in his cell studying until he was attacked by a snowball from "Alheera."  She, as well, was going for a smile and somehow got it.

Then the ante was upped pretty hard.  "Shi" wanted to capitolize on Kagematsu with wet snow on him, so she went for an Introduction.  It didn't work, even after "Shi" attempted all three of her desperation.  This was a pretty big hit, and left her behind for most of the game.

Kagematsu was approached by almost all of the villagers as he tried to get a small meal, and various Affections were won, but no Introductions just yet.

"Kiera" had been the most shy so far, getting only one Affection before relinquishing each scene to another.  When she finally asked for A Lasting Impression, Kagematsu set the scene as happening in the courtyard in the middle of the temple.  Due to the overarching saga that this session began, certain desires could manifest physically near this cave, and Kagematsu found himself in the middle of a small, warm stream coming from a sudden waterfall where the wall had been.  (This was all Kagematsu's player created, though it did reflect what was written on "Kiera's" sheet.

"Kiera" tried to pull his attention away from the wonder he was exploring, but the dice disagreed.  She resorted to bribing Kagematsu, but in a cute subtle way.  She picked a flower that had suddenly bloomed in this magical wake, and forced her way into his heart as they shared a moment enjoying this little miracle.

It should be mentioned at this point, that the events of this game did not happen in one day in the fiction.  Several days passed in between a few scenes, and the villagers were given rooms in the temple as Kagematsu had other duties to attend to.  Until they won an Introduction, they didn't even have regular access to him.  In total, the game covered around a month of fictional time.

When the villagers became home-sick, or especially when their Fear was not removed at the end of a scene, Kagematsu's player took that opportunity to frame a physical manifestation of their desire (read as their Favorites from their character sheet) into the next scene or two.  This led to what was probably more of a supernatural game than most Kagematsu sessions look like, but man it did make some power.

"Alheera" wanted to get a kiss from Kagematsu.  She had tried a number of things up to this point and gotten most of them, but it was time to get serious.  Because of the paragraph above this one, Kagematsu framed the scene as one where Kagematsu was outside in the bitter unnatural winter splitting wood (as the old priests certainly couldn't do it.)  As "Alheera" approached, Kagematsu was unwittingly enveloped in the warmth of a beautiful and familiar Forest Clearing location.  Kagematsu became hot and without really thinking about it peeled off his upper layer of clothing, revealing (with many cat calls from the players) his hot, steamy chest.

"Alheera" jumped all over that, getting desperate enough to strip some of her own clothes, before being interrupted BY THE THREAT!  As she leaned in for the kiss, the magic was dispelled by the holy beast (a giant boar god) who snorted out ice cold breath on Kagematsu's back.  He turned and supplicated himself, and "Alheera" fled to the temple.

"Sawako" wanted to drive the plot and get at some mysteries, going for a secret and a gift in two different scenes.  There were other attempts from other villagers inbetween these scenes, but they are presented here together.  Her Innocenve of 7 made these rolls pretty easy, but she cornered Kagematsu in his chamber and started talking about her village and being obliviously over-inquisitive about Kagematsu's past.  The wall of cute was too much, and he admitted that he had no religious training or experience at all, and that he had come across this cave and the Kami within, and it had made him it's Oracle, where before he had been nothing more than a horse trainer.  "Sawako" walked away with a brush that had brought Kagemasu comfort when he was away from home, and the impression (from the subtleties of the scene not captured above) that Kagematsu may himself be responsible for this holy beast's presence.

We take one final look at "Katy" as she finds Kagematsu in his chamber.  He was late with his duties, having not gotten out of bed.  "Katy" forces her way into his room and finds him exhausted from the previous night ("Alheera" had won a roll in the hay, yes, without ever getting that kiss...)  Not to be outdone, she plants a big kiss on him, but the dice say he doesn't kiss back.  She get's desperate enough to get naked and throw herself upon him, pushing him back into the bed.

Apparently Kagematsu can only kiss in the horizontal position.

She goes for the follow up affection of "an Introduction." and as soon as that is done, dismisses him to his duties.  Catcalls from the audience follow.  Damn, that was conniving.

"Alheera" went for the promise, but was interrupted by The Threat! which tore down one of the walls of the temple.  So "Sawako" went for the promise next.  Kagematsu was trying as best he could to patch the wall with wood for now, and the older priests were packing snow for insulation.  "Sawako" lent a hand, and after a lot of interesting dialogue (to raise Kagematsu's spirits, as he was pretty pissed off) "Sawako" demands a promise.

She did get it, but I can't remember if she got desperate.  She may have questioned his honor, but it wasn't anything severe.

Kagematsu frames his scene, taking nothing more than a shaft of bamboo up the mountain and calling out the holy beast.  It, and it's demon horde, surround him and they square off.

"Alheera" sacrifices herself in the first intermediate scene to avoid rolling her Fear against Kagematsu.  Her Fear was still around 4 or so, so she breaks into the circle of the fight with some incense and is gored to death by the boar (did we mention yet that the thing is fifteen feet long?)  Two more villagers narrate some quick exchanges, their Fear only being one die.  Oddly, the two remaining had no Fear at all, so their decision was easy.

Kagematsu rolls Love, and is victorious.  "Katy" returns to her grandson and lives happily ever after.  "Kiera" stays at the temple, always trying for Kagematsu's eye, but knowing she won't get it.  "Shi" decides to flee with the demon horde if she can't have Kagematsu for herself.

Leaving only "Sawako" to narrate an epilogue with Kagematsu.  Being a 7 Innocence and no Charm girl, she decides that she leaves the temple and goes back to Ryoji, whom she was going to marry before all this started.  She is oblivious and dismissive even after Kagematsu formally announces his love.

So we fast forward about a year, to a scene where Ryoji is bringing in some crops alone one evening.  A wanderer (whom we all know is Kagematsu) stares at him silently from the road.  The camera pans to Kagematsu's fist, who's grip is tightening to white knuckles around a familiar bamboo staff.

And we fade to black...


The game was a blast to play.  There were a lot of really sordid moments, a few touching gestures, some comedy, a healthy amount of tragedy... it was good.

I was a little disturbed that two of the villagers got to zero Fear.  It didn't seem right to me, but I wasn't sure how to prevent it in the future other than raising the Fear level.

The dice only gave us The Threat!  twice, both during scenes with "Alheera."  It came up much more frequently in the second, pick-up game we had later in the con.

Intermediate narration after a failed dice roll (but before the villager decides if a desperation should be used) is A LOT OF FUN.  It's probably the best, most tense moment in the structure of the game.

The women players were heartily entertained by the men players trying to behave as innocent (or charming) villagers.  All of the players wanted to know where to get the game, and thought it would be a great activity to play again with friends now that they've been introduced to it.  I hope they make their way to the site and spread the word.

I had to make a character sheet last minute for the players, which they liked.  I found myself wanting a more detailed one that what I had for Kagematsu.  The internet has provided a few options.


We ran the game again as a pick-up for three people who were interested but didn't make the first session.  We played traditional style, without this "Cave of Wanders" saga overtones.  Four men played villagers and we actually got a woman for Kagematsu.  She was brave enough to try it knowing nothing about the game.

The scenes were very different.  She had no compunction to hide her obvious like or dislike for the villagers strategy (or maybe that was all an act?)  Kagematsu in the previous game had more or less stone-walled in an attempt to keep the Love/Pity question more secretive to the Villagers.

One villager tried to get 5 affections without ever speaking to Kagematsu, and narrating instead action, scenery, and circumstance.  It went pretty well, actually, but she went for the Promise fairly early on, resorted to showing disdain, and The Threat! showed up.

One of the more amusing scenes was Kagematsu at a hot spring, and one of the villagers had gotten dressed up with formal kimono and geisha makeup to bring him tea.  She was discreet enough not to acknowledge his nudity, and never went for physical affections in that scene.  They even shared a moment singing together a song from the West, as this was the direction that Kagematsu had wandered in from.

This led to a scene later (after many other scenes from the other women) where Kagematsu sought her out.  She did not bring her biwa to the hot-spring, so he came asking for the song he didn't get.  She led him to another room, slid the door shut, and went STRAIGHT FOR A KISS... but the player's dice immediately said The Threat!  The camera sees only her face as she gets impossibly close to Kagematsu and then her eyes pop open as she sees a dead body in the inn!

Two of the other villagers got confessions of love from Kagematsu through various wiles.  One of them kept bringing a child into the scene, almost as modern men would use a puppy to garner affection, and it worked to some extent.  The other was always carrying or arranging flowers, and worked in a myriad of duties she had to attend to in order to impress Kagematsu and sometimes gain sympathy.

A promise was made to one of the girls who had garnered a confession of love, but only after a threat of seppuku.  Kagematsu ably defeated the bandit threat, as one villager (who failed at the promise) sacrificed herself by charging the bandit king with a sword.  Two of the players again had zero Fear, and the remaining only had one Fear, so Kagematsu seemed destined to win.

However, Kagematsu rolled almost all sixes.  Only one of his die was counted toward his total, which was a 5.  Beating out the 2 rolled by the villager, all was well.  Kagematsu's most loved was not either of the girls he confessed his love to.  It was the one who's kiss was interrupted.

They ended with finally getting that kiss, despite (or perhaps because of) Kagematsu's bloody, distressed, Bruce Willis appearance.

Good Times were had by all.


As for the DonJon session and Usagi.  They were mostly combat, both of them.  DonJon had character creation in the beginning, which I really hadn't planned on doing, but I just never got the time to do it before the game.  I started them off at Level 4, but I still made them go through the buying of equipment (with slightly higher Wealth and Provision scores than normal.)  Everyone liked the blacksmith in the town of Wurston (where they were all from) so he'll likely appear again.

The tower guards warned them not to go adventuring in the woods, as there was rumor of a hunter there who carried only one arrow (because he never missed.)  They did, in fact, encounter that demon (a Munuane) and he shot his one arrow into the Fighter.  The Party Leader succumbed to the Munaune's charm and forded a river to come close to him.  The Munuane took a quiver from the Party Leader's quiver (see, now he has just one arrow!)

He got killed, but only after some fun fighting.  Then the forest got very chilly and a Windigo approached them and demanded the Munuane's arrow (sticking out of the Fighter) as a souvenir.  He and his friend had come to the cave and asked for power and peace, respectively.  The Windigo asked the players (rather intimidatingly) if they had come to ask for power!  They all shied away and meekly responded that they just wanted money.

The Windigo gave them directions, but the Orange Goblin climbed up his thirty foot frame and rolled a lot of successes.  So the player decided the Windigo was lying and got the real details on the cave's whereabouts.  The Windogo was leaving the scene when it stumbled upon one of the players (The "procurer of the shiney") hiding in the bushes.  He was upset, but threatened her and then dropped her in the river.

In the cave they fought some more monsters, and got loot values way higher than they should expect.  Time not permitting more, we skipped ahead to the downward spiraling circular shaft, with a dull glow at the bottom.  Rain exclaimed that wanted pockets of treasure, and they appeared.  Bangles! was a little freaked out, and wanted an exit, so one appeared.  The cave dimmed it's light each time something like this happened, leading Rain to want out (she was rocketed out the exit that Bangles! had desired, quite scary!)

Everyone else got what they wanted and left, while Balthazar (the Party Leader) wanted to know what was going on.  He saw Her in the center of the cave, pained by each wish, growing dimmer each time.  He wished to speak with Her, despite the obvious pains this would cause.

We fade to black with the line "Nobody ever wants me..."

Usagi Yojimbo

I realized about an hour into the session proper that I had written this module while it was in flux, so the plot seemed pretty contradictory with the NPC dialogue.

At any rate, the kids skipped school on the day of the field trip and followed Jeff to this factory he'd found.  Pretty soon they found themselves inside a virtual world where they could play Usagi Yojimbo as the characters from their decks (UY is a ccg for the purpose of the plot here...)

They had some fun being attacked by ninjas, but then they were surrounded by a fire and soldiers from a nearby castle.  Jeff had no clue what was going on, as it wasn't on his monitors.  (He was essentially their operator for this game.)  The leader of the soldiers moved through and challenged a few of the players one on one, to see if they were, in his words, "what I'm looking for."  Two of the player characters were defeated, shattering like hollow egg-shells.

Some of the characters found a little girl who was watching all this take place, and entered into dialogue.  Her story didn't match the head of the soldier's story, and neither agreed with Jeff's.  This will be remedied in future games.  Simpler plots are better!

After a long struggle, the head soldier was destroyed, and the virtual world began to disintegrate.  Jeff had (back in the real world with the two players who had died in the virtual world) convinced one of the players to send him into the game.  He and the little girl refused to leave the virtual world, but our crafty and clever Fox character tackled them and all awoke back in the real world.

Including the little girl who was originally inside the virtual world only.

Afterthoughts for both

I liked both of these two equally well.  Some fun coincidences came up in DonJon, and I think especially the Windigo will return in future sessions, perhaps even in future sessions of Paul's Little Fears episode.  Usagi went pretty good considering th huge learning curve for the system.  I got feedback on the card system I used, and I saw how to pace things.  I'm re-writing the plot and structure of the game to be clearer, with more factual information upfront (as opposed to fore-shadowed later) and to include smaller, targeted vignettes to highlight certain characters and pace the game better.  In future, it should involve actually infiltrating Kyuden Kiebo Suru, as opposed to what happened in the short time we had.

That's a ton of text!  But it is what it is.  Thanks for anyone who reads it all.

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