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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.