Wednesday, February 22, 2012

An interesting site

One of my players, Kevin, has been interviewing Larry, who plays the character Tyr the Boatwright in the current campaign, before game sessions. Let me share these with you as they will give you some insights into some of the gaming challenges I face. I must balance all the players within the framework of the game.

Thank you Kevin & Larry. I would love to see something like this for all the gamers!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A fortunate rescue 27 Thorri

Combing the ruins for clues to lost loved ones and who perpetrated the attack on Skaldby the exhausted party settles down for the night. Alas they fall asleep on watch again & wake to find some of the livestock (The Kine & Swine ain't mine! says Ulfar) has returned. They continue their investigations (including the boat-wright overlooking the still whole boat half sunk in the harbor). Mar collects every scrap of iron he can find hoping to eventually make armor out of it. Everyone but Tyr the boat-wright feels anger & wants vengeance for the massacre. Oddly enough they leave the bodies where they have fallen & never bury or burn them. OOOPS that might revisit them like a salmonella tainted anchovie lasagna.

Shortly into the morning of the next day as they are preparing to follow the road north they spot a large party of Warriors & well armed peasants (not piss-ants though they are somewhat irritable) rounding up the livestock of the village. When Ulfar approaches them to demand their business he is greeted with a friendly? spear. Avoiding such a cheerful hello he screams as he launches into a Tete-a-Tete with a hostile warrior. His friends back him up, but Skolmar is wounded in the leg. They're handling themselves well though the 3 to 1 odds against the party is taking its toll when more hostiles show up behind them. Surrounded, vastly outnumbered things are looking grim when a stranger wearing a smile, a wolf-skin about his shoulders, & a sword jumps in & aids them. Each blow of this  young looking hero cleaves two enemy warriors & inspires Arvarodd, Siv, & Mar to heroic deeds themselves. This turns the battle to their favor & the remaining hostiles head to greener pastures (or at least one presumes they do). Though his wounds are not too debilitating the helpful stranger collapses in front of them. When they are at last able to rouse him, he tells them his name is Starkaddr and that he has been wandering through the world earning fame & honoring Odhinn. He craves of them some help & company while his leg wound heals, so the party puts him on a sledge & heads north where they hope to find kindred & friends who escaped the massacre.

Since much of the day is gone after their friendly little spat, they only make it part way to the next village before camping during the night. During the watch at night strange sounds, screams, & other noises echo distantly the darkness. In the morning they spot smoke in the direction of the village they are headed to. After a mornings travel they discover this village too has been razed and massacred. A mortally wounded man tells them that a great horror visited them in the night. It was foul & disgusting & wreaking of Death. Nothing seemed to wound it. The village died horribly, but when the party identities themselves, he shrinks away & calls them "The Cursed Ones!" before he dies. Once again the party leaves the bodies where they are lying. Another helping of  Salmonella-Anchovy Lasagna, please? Just so they have another inkling that perhaps they're doing something wrong, Tyr falls into a smoldering building & severely burns his right arm. Noting that one of the old treatments for severe burns was urea (for killing bacteria) & maggots (to eat away the dead flesh) all the other males in the party take turns repeated trying to "cure" him.

During the night Skolmr notes a reflected gleam in the darkness. He follows it & discovers some golden tuning pegs lying in the grass. Hmm! that's not something you leave lying in the field everyday. During the next watch, the ever vigilant Siv sees the trees moving strangely in the forest. Ulfar goes to investigate and discovers this very large (about 8 or 9 feet tall), bloated, blue glowing, & foul smelling man crashing through the trees. A frightened Sami runs out of the forest pursued by this horror (played by a visiting Bill - father of Jerry) He winds up with his sling & flings a stone and gets a boulder in response that knocks him flat. His yells have alerted the camp. Starkaddr, Siv, Arvarodd, Skolmr, Mar, & Tyr run to the rescue. Fighting by the light of the moon & the strange blue glow of the large unfriendly guy they meet with scant success initially as his skin seems inordinately tough. Only the mightiest of blows penetrates the skin & allows the foul grey pus to ooze forth. Starkaddr & Arvarodd are knocked down & this foul creature crushes the arm of Starkaddr by stomping on him. The arrows & sling-scones have no effect on his tough hide. Finally Mar scratches the fiend's arm & Arvarodd impales the bloated head with his sword. Mar tries to shield bash the monster but gets kncoked prone. In a desperate move Arvarodd lifts the demon's lifts up the leg off the ground thus severing half its befouled connection to the earth. Starkaddr rolls free, Siv is able now to penetrate the skin & Ulfar gives a mighty heave on the other leg & topples the draugr who as it dies gushes forth grey oozing matter all over Mar & into his mouth. Blechh!

It was a mighty battle & at that point we called it a good evenings game. Many hints have been dropped concerning the raiders, Starkaddr, the monsters, the two razed villages but since all the players seemed to be a bit tired last evening they haven't yet pursued those clues. Hopefully a fortnight from now they'll start asking the right questions, HeHe!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A chance(?) meeting Thorri 16, 2012

Jouki, A Saami hunter-shaman (kindly played by a visiting friend of Kevin's, Darin) has come to barter with Tyrwald carrying a load of furs behind his reindeer, but payment in iron tools & weapons will have to wait until they return to Skalby. With prisoner in tow Tyrwald and his retinue (including the party members) head back toward the home village. During the first night the prisoner tries to escape and Arvarodd hogties him in a novel but period manner to discourage an further attempts. (OWWW!!!) Skolmr shames the prisoner into submission with his flytings (insults).

Midmorning of the second day, the travellers come across a scruffy, half-blind old beggar leaning on an old spear traveling in the opposite direction. Tyrwald dismissively throws a coin at the old codger and his horse edges him off the road. In return for the kindness shown by the party members the old man weaves them a story about when he was a young man (2 dog-lives before Frodhi Sheafchild came oe'r the water) he served a great Hero-King whose grave mound lies nearby in a boggy mountain vale beneath a cliff marked by a stone spear. In that grave lies his armour and weapons and he encourages the players to recover these artifacts and bring renewed honor to his fallen King by great deeds with them. Jouki and Arvarodd are rather skeptical and cautious of this odd fellow dressed in dirty dark-blue rags & a large brimmed floppy hat but eventually they are persuaded to join the enthusiasm of the others. After parting with this chance traveler (& if you believe that I have a swamp in the Shara I wish to sell you) by early afternoon the retinue has returned to the village.

During a week of preparations before the journey, Arvarodd manages to offer the Brideprice to Siv's parents and gain his betrothal to her. That evening in a sweet little scene he presents her with the gift of a beautiful indigo wool & white fox-fur cloak. The runes are cast and doom for good or ill pronounced that evening. Likewise Jouki retires to his tent, sings himself into a trance, and cast the bones. The result is that he has a vision of the route that the party needs to follow. As a sign of his guarded esteem, Tyrwald designates Ulfar as leader of the party but advises him to listen to the rede of Skolmr and Arvarodd for wisdom and follow the suggestions of Siv if he wants to have children.

The first few days & nights of travel are fairly unremarkable save for the problem with Skolmr falling asleep on watch. In the depths of the third night (Skolmr asleep on watch again) a Large Black Wolf wakens Ulfar (the one member of the party with a deathly fear of Wolves) by drooling in his face. Ulfar screams like a little girl & attempts to climb a tree (after a courage roll he comes back down) Arvarodd runs screaming naked from his tent & captures the wolf by tackling it and barely manages to avoid the arrow shot by Jouki that wounds the left rear leg of the beast. Arvarodd attempts to tame the wolf by biting its ears. Siv patches up the poor friendly wolf. The next day after Jouki leads the party to the Cliff marked by a giant stone spear the wolf leads the party the rest of the way up the overgrown path into the vale where camp is made in the growing twilight. But off the wolf charges into the bog pursued by Arvarodd, Skolmr, and Ulfar. Skolmr & Ulfar fall in the nasty muck, but Arvarodd follows closely enough to watch the Wolf  charge past the shiny black stones guarding the perimeter and straight into  the solid side of the burial mound. Arvarodd attempts to follow and uses his head - he eats dirt because where the wolf can pass easily, he can't.

Jouki says "Veda Kateen" to the thought of going to the mound & heads off into the wilderness. Eventually the rest of the party catches up to Arvarodd and in the gathering dark lit only by torches and the unearthly blue-green glow from the mound, they dig into the mound. They ignore the tingling they get from the obsidian markers around the grave mound that are marked with woe-runes!  Oh too bad, so sad, to you! Tyr takes the opportunity to make a long speech & annoys Huginn, Muninn & the everyone in the party. Huginn and Muninn express their displeasure on his head. After much hard work they eventually open the mound. Ulfar leads the way by trying to climb one hand down the rope while holding a torch, CRASH! & something breaks under his feet, when he hits & puts out his torch. Mar thinks that went so well he'll do the same darn thing! Finally in a more common sense approach Arvarodd clibs down & reignites everyone's torches. What's this? It seems Mar has grabbed a piece of the buried grave-ship & is accidentally using it as a torch. He tries to correct the situation and does so ----- as far as he knows!!!!! Siv and Skolmr also join the group inside the mound. There in the center of the small grave-ship they see two cloth covered bodies. The first is a large bloated blue-glowing body of a Warrior. The other is the body of the Wolf that had been a brief part of their company who bears a beatuful collar that Arvarodd takes for himself. After some token offerings they proceed to loot the Warrior's body of a "A beautiful sword that is very nicely decorated with gems & scroll work. It’s light & balanced giving an extra 5% to any sword attack" (taken by Siv), a "broken down looking spear with a blackened shaft that doesn't seem to ever miss its target when thrown" (taken by Ulfar), some "very heavy, scruffy, hairy made up of matted bear fur and tar, lined with even more heavy leather" (taken by Mar), and a "stout, old fashioned six sided oblong shield all done in black" (taken by Arvarodd).  

In the morning they close the mound back up and head back to the village. It's slower going because they've lost their Saami guide, and Siv is haunted by visions sent by Sif. When he puts together some clues Nate (Arvarodd's player) expresses his approval(?) by saying to the GM "You A**!!! You F*****g B*****d!!!! It's a G*******d Kinslaying Sword!!!!!" It's moments like that I live for, Heh-Heh! At about a mile from home they notice that oddly enough for a Winters day that no smoke is rising from the cook-fires. They rush madly back to the village & see that it has been torn apart. Buildings smashed, some burnt, bodies everywhere! The Smithy is burnt to a cinder & the thick sod walls thrown down. Siv's parents home is smashed and the family heirlooms packed up and taken! Ulfar's home & his mother lie in a smoldering ruin. Tracks of wagons appear to head up the north road. In the Meadhall, Tyrwald lies ripped asunder, surrounded by the shredded remains of his huskarls. Arvarodd notes that this looks like the same work of those who massacred his parents! He takes his Uncle's armour & carves Vengeance-Runes in the shattered remains of the door!

Recap of the first sessions - end Morsugur (Jol) & early Thorri, 2012

Character creation was completed. It was done with a point buy system using extra points awarded or extra skills added depending on the character back story written up by the player. Kevin, Nate, & Karen especially shown at this process. Because most players are not very familiar with the Norse mind-set (other than the Hollywood version) I created an introduction sheet & a series of questions regarding situations that allowed me to grade them on opposed virtues similar to the "King Arthur Pendragon" system.

The story opens in January shortly after the Huldanott marking the end of the Yule season.
Buri Lawgiver, affectionately known as Buri the Stout, has passed away – He was the HárGodhi (high-priest) for the district & a great beneficiary to one & all. He was the glue that held these various small settlements together & kept warfare & feuds from breaking out. Many folk travel the distance to his Hof to honor his memory in a great feast. A Spakona has been summoned to speak with the Spirits to commemorate his passing. Several of the party hear her words Spae for them.

A Skaldic competition is held and after much back & forth Skolmr (Kevin) wins the evening. Despite the entertainment fights and old feuds break out as Bjorn is not the man his father was. Arvarodd (Nate) cleverly prevents a blood-feud from happening by testing one youth who threatens him in a drinking contest. Arvarodd out-swills the poor lad & leaves him under the table. Tyr (Larry) also tries to play along by drinking and preaching & gets so annoying that his drunken and unconscious body is left with the pigs. Mar (Jerry) talks shop with the blacksmith trying to build connections & learns about bog iron.

The next morning in a further attempt to patch up quarrels Bjorn organizes a competitive Boar hunt amongst the various contingents. At one point Larry mistakes a Bear for a Boar & causes some interesting times. When a pack of boar is found, everyone is successful but alas Mar, Ulfar (Anthony) and Tyr are injured. Siv (Karen) kills everything in sight that somebody hasn't gotten to first! Personally I would have used a weapon, but to each their own. returning from the hunt, the party is ambushed. Ulfar redeems himself in his father's eyes by a brave rescue of his trapped father, Tyrwald. The rest of the party manages to slay the ambushers and capture one wounded one. The attackers are recognized as being men of Tyrwald's old enemy.

They bring their captive back before Bjorn for justice. After much wrangling amongst the party as well as the assembled leaders, it is decided that justice will be sought at the Thing in July & that the prisoner will be held until then. To compound his misery he is to be held in a open slatted Summer-barn as a jail. (No, Nate there are no records of a building being built to function as just a jail during this period of time). Alas his guard falls asleep & though Arvarodd takes an arrow trying to protect the prisoner the villain is slain. During the pursuit another member of the enemy faction is caught & is held more tightly this time.

Start of a new RPG campaign

Because of conflicting scheduling Kevin & I are alternating Saturdays for our weekly game. This has created some confusion for players in keeping track of where they are. Here's my attempt in helping them. Due to popular acclaim we are using a variant of the Runequest System. It will be a difficult for most gamers to play because it is low-magic & limbs will be lost! Plus I'm a sick & twisted b*****d & have add lots of plot twists on the fly. - I just love the pole-axed look when I let a player hang himself by his own actions (there will be a posting on some of my favorites I'm sure). The players just hate it when I smile quietly.

The campaign is a "Viking" age campaign that I'm starting a bit early (around 400AD). It is toward the end of the reign of King Frodhi Sheaf-child, a time of relative peace & prosperity within the unified jarldoms in the Jutish peninsula & southern Norway. This is shortly before the time of the legendary King Hadding of the Danes, Sigurd, Sigfried, & Beowulf. It is also shortly before the time of that nancy-boy prig over in Llogres name Artie or something like that (I'm just teasing, Greg)The setting begins in the Norwegian village of Skaldby (roughly pronounced Shawl-de-boo) governed by the cunning Hersir (sort of a Lord/leader by acclaim) Tyrwald Limb-lopper. His son Thurri is set to rule after him and has shown great promise.

The Dramatis Personae:
Arvarodd the stout: (Nate) orphaned nephew to Tyrwald & bound on avenging his family's murder. Found nearly dead after the massacre & nursed back to health by Siv & falls head over heels for her & is desirous of marrying her.
Siv: (Karen) Eldest of a family entirely of daughters. Her father feeling he's been cursed by not having a son to carry on his warrior tradition trains his Siv to be a warrior. The Goddess Sif has taken an interest in the bloodthirsty young lady. She has been fostered to Tyrwald to complete her training.
Skolmr Ketilsson: (Kevin) the skald & loremaster of our group & Skop (house-bard) to Tyrwald. His specialty is "Flyting" (insults) so he can be a bit unwelcome in some mead-halls. Plus there was the incident where he shot his grandfather (to ease his passing while being forced to endure "The Walk") & thus annoyed the rest of the family with the implied dishonor. Despite all of that he's a talented poet & singer in search of just the right bird-bone to make a flute from.
Ulfar: (Anthony) is the bastard son of Tyrwald by a Hibernian women that he had captured as a slave & taken as a leman for her charms. Unfortunately Ulfar doesn't have his mother's charming ways & has worked hard be annoying most of the village & lazy at work in the odd hopes that he might win his father's approval. Odd that! But at least illegitimacy is not much of an obstacle in these times.
Mar: (Jerry) he was a blacksmith apprentice who lost his teacher & is now attempting to take over the role of the village smith. He spends much of his time trying to find a teacher & materials for his masterwork. A large man whole likes to throw anvils at people he doesn't like. (Perhaps he learned it from Sir Bercilak, eh? - but that's a whole different story)
Tyr: (Larry) ostensibly a boat builder, Tyr is much like his player: MAD, BONKERS, & very pontificating at times, but that gives him & his character a certain amusement factor & allows evil GM's like me an extra tool to tweak the party with.