Commentary thread for that “Describe your game in five words” thread.

aramis erak

In my L5R campaign, I'm doing the Scorpion Coup with a twist - the Lying Darness is further along than it should be for 1123... they just put down Bayushi Shoju...Revealing that there's nothing under the mask but skin....

log in or register to remove this ad


party found a bloody mary

It’s been a little while since I last shared. We’ve played a few times since then, and my homebrew system has undergone a few revisions. It’s on 2d10 for its core mechanic now, which seemed to work well. The short of it is the party explored some more, ran into another adventuring party on their way back to town, did town stuff, then came back to the dungeon (same one as

Instead of continuing to push into the dungeon where they had been before, the party swam across the pool near the entrance then headed north. They followed a short passage that lead to a larger room with pink crystals on the ceiling, a trog corpse on a slab, a skittish trog (named Old Gregg), and sounds of arguing or yelling in the background.

The party was interested in getting information from the Old Gregg, but he wasn’t willing to parlay. They seemed particularly interested in this, so I created a clock (4-ticks). If they could make a good impression, he’d tell them what they wanted to know about the dungeon. My system has had some clock-ish like thing before, but last session I just ported them over wholesale. It seemed easier.

Tama (the cleric) started off trying to convince him to tell them what they needed to know. The result was a Mixed Success, so she added one tick on the clock, but I also needed a consequence. Given the arguing, I added another clock. If that clock went off, those arguing were going to show up, and it would escalate to violence. Tama had the option of making a Defense Check to resist the consequence but opted to let it ride. (Two clocks: convince at ¹⁄₄ and escalate at ¹⁄₄).

Deirdre (the barbarian) also tried a similar tactic, but she failed. The trogs in the other room were starting to notice that there were mouth-breathers (the PCs had put plugs up their noses to mitigate the trogs’ stench) in the other chamber. That’s bad. The escalation clock is now at ³⁄₄ due the failure. If the party isn’t careful, an angry leader-trog is going to come out and start trouble.

Dingo decided to take steps to delay the possibility of violence. He moved over to the door separating this chamber from the other one and made an attempt to sabotage it. Since he didn’t actually have any tools (whoops), he tried to jam an arrow in the door to try to wedge it. He only got Mixed Success. That would take one tick off the escalation clock, but the consequence of the sabotage would be that the leader was going to call for more help. These aren’t just troublesome outsiders but possibly collaborators with the rebel trogs who had killed their leader (the corpse on the slab, formerly Boss Trog). Dingo opted to resist by being very careful and gained a couple of stress for his trouble. That puts the escalation clock back at ²⁄₄.

Since being nice didn’t work, Deirdre and Tama decided to work together on Old Gregg. This session introduced a group check mechanic. You pick a leader, then everyone participates uses the same method (skill) but can vary their approach. The best roll is used for the result, but every failure reduces it by 2. However, you can gain stress to cancel out failures. Deirdre was using Strength to shake Old Gregg while Tama tried to be the nice guy (using Intellect to persuade). Tama got a Complete Success, but Deirdre failed her roll. That was going to bump the result down to a Mixed Success, so Deirdre took stress and preserved the Complete Success. That added two more ticks to the convince clock, putting it at ³⁄₄.

At this point, the party had learned the trogs were splitting into factions. Two different ones wanted to become leader after Boss Trog had been killed. Old Greg said he supported Bloody Mary, who was the nicer one (of what I called the hippy faction), but the way he seemed to like being dominated by the PCs makes it seem like Slank Piddler (the other trog and leader of what I called the militaristic faction) was the leader he actually needed.

At this point, Dingo thought it would be a good idea to close the deal. That was not a good idea. Whatever Dingo said to Old Gregg just sort of freaked him out. Dingo failed, so Old Gregg bolted. Dingo wasn’t going to let that happened, so he (being a vuple, which is under a meter tall) dashed under Old Gregg’s legs to knock him down (like when a dog hits you right in the back of your legs). That was his resistance to this consequence, so he gained three more stress for his trouble but saved the conflict. Both clocks are now at ³⁄₄.

Seeing him down, Tama moved to render aid to Old Gregg. She’s wanting him to know that the PCs aren’t bad people, so she rolls Influence with Dexterity as her approach (to apply first aid). She gets a Mixed Success and lets it ride. Both clocks go off. Old Gregg is finally comfortable telling the PCs what they want to know, but first Slank Piddler is ready to beat up some mouth-breathing intruders and hurt Old Gregg for talking to them.

Deirdre moves between them, and Slank Piddler equips his natural weapons. Combat in my homebrew system starts with an equip phase (where you declare what equipment you have in your hands to use during the round). This is also the trigger to transition into combat rounds. The party equipped their weapons, and everyone rolled initiative. Tama rolled well, but Dingo and Deirdre rolled poorly. Combat is wave-based in my system. There is a fast wave, monsters, then a slow wave. If you get the slow wave, you can opt into the fast wave by taking a penalty to your attack roll and giving up the ability to cast spells. Deirdre opted into the fast wave.

After that, the combat went pretty smoothly. To deal with the non-uniform distribution of results on attack rolls, I also adapted degrees of success to combat. If you get a Critical Success, you deal maximum damage. If you get Complete Success, regular. If you get Mixed Success, you deal minimum. Failure means you get nothing. Deirdre and Slank Piddler traded blows. She and Dingo both hurt him a bit, but Slank got three attacks (two claws and a bite), so even though he still did a little bit of damage in spite of getting Mixed Success twice.

Unfortunately for him, the PCs are 6th level while he is only 3rd. His HP is 12. Theirs varies from 29 (for Dingo) to 40 (for Tama) and 46 (for Deirdre). While he did do 6 damage to Deirdre, that wasn’t much (but it did cause her to gain another stress from post-combat healing). On the second round, Tama and Deirdre both made the fast wave (initiative is rolled every round). Deirdre got a Critical Success this time. Poor Slank Piddler got split in two. After that, lots of bad puns ensued from the table. 😂

The rest of the session involved getting Bloody Mary back on their feat and learning more of what the trogs’ plans are. They’re going to leave the caves and find a new place to make their lair. Since the party did them a solid, they became an ally. Basically, someone they can reach out to for help regarding their sphere of influence (basically caves and swamps but also regional stuff as appropriate). The party also found some treasure including 120,000 S. That’s about five slots worth of cash. It’s not all coins. A quantity of money includes mixed coinage, but it’s still a lot to haul around. Fortunately, it came in a protective cube. 😄


Instead of continuing to push into the dungeon where they had been before, the party swam across the pool near the entrance then headed north.
Did this (the swimming) need a check or some sort?

The party was interested in getting information from the Old Gregg, but he wasn’t willing to parlay. They seemed particularly interested in this, so I created a clock (4-ticks). If they could make a good impression, he’d tell them what they wanted to know about the dungeon.
I liked this. It reminded me of Trickery and Convince conflicts in Torchbearer.

We didn't have any of those in today's session - only two Captures (one which couldn't really give a capture outcome, because of the might differential). But there was a simple Persuader check, whereby Fea-bella persuaded her enemy Megloss, who is hanging out with the PCs at the moment (don't ask!), to tell her what he knows about the cursed Elfstone she is obsessed and somewhat possessed by.


Did this (the swimming) need a check or some sort?
Nothing was at stake, so no roll.

I liked this. It reminded me of Trickery and Convince conflicts in Torchbearer.
I liked how the mechanization of the conflict played out. It removed me from having a decided outcome, and the PCs got to be creative with their skills—like Tama’s first roll was actually Rituals and Deirdre’s was Connect (guess I was a bit tired when I posted last night and didn’t remember the specific skills used correctly 😅). Some mistakes were made (Dingo rolled Lock Picking to sabotage the door when it probably should have been a Sabotage specialty, which he didn’t have but could have attempted at a penalty), but I’d call it a success.

For next session, the PCs have expressed a desire to use a potion of poison they found and Boss Trog’s corpse as part of a scheme to trick the dragon on the level down into eating it (and dying from the poison). One if the players made a comment about my trying to figure out how to stop it, so I reminded them the dice would decide.

"Recurring femme fatale... Helping us?!"

It's been a few months (our GM hibernates through the winter), but:

We're playing a Fate Core game set in a fantasy version of Renaissance Italy. (Well, that's how it was pitched, but it's evolved into something closer to the 16th or 17th centuries - we've got a definite Three Musketeers vibe going in places.) Our Italy analogue is called "Fortia", so our tongue-in-cheek name for the campaign is "Fortian Times".

There's two basic kinds of magic in this world: Ritual magic, which is slow, dangerous, and requires multiple people to do anything really powerful; and sorcery, which is granted by powerful beings summoned by ritual magic for sufficient consideration.

The only forms of sorcery officially known to exist are seven bloodlines deriving from Senators of the equivalent of the Roman Empire - their powers derive loosely from the seven deadly sins.

One character, Marco, is a gunsmith who unwittingly is a scion of the Envy bloodline, otherwise thought to be extinct - his guns are rather more destructive than one would otherwise expect.

Marco has extensive underworld connections, which he was forced to lean into at the start of the campaign - his reputation was ruined by false accusations of heresy and mostly-false accusations of criminality, so he's on the run.

My character, Ludovico, belongs to a secretive sorcerous tradition, they're called 'Faces'. (They can alter their appearance.) There are only six of them at a time: Three masters and three apprentices.

Ludovico is the apprentice of the Third Line of Faces, and his master went missing at the beginning of the campaign. He's, ahem, the "face" of the party, as well as our designated sneak.

Then there's Jurgen (a DMPC), who is officially Marco's bodyguard, but is a full member of the team by now. A consummate swordsman, and nearly as highly educated as Marco.

It's become very clear that Ludovico's master has been captured by the First Line of Faces, a clear violation of the gentlemen's agreement among the Faces not to interfere with each other. They seem to be planning a huge ritual to remove his power and transfer it to someone else, even!

Anyway, we've repeatedly clashed with the First Line apprentice, who goes by Chloe. She is a truly fun opponent - witty, sly, devious, and deadly.

A couple sessions ago we'd gone to Letitia (ie, "France") to foil Chloe's plot to assassinate a duke and start a war.

To make a long story short, we succeeded after a hugely entertaining scene in which Ludovico and Chloe bantered and tried to poison each other, while Marco and Jurgen fought duels with her bully-boys in the distance.

Jurgen decisively won his duel, Marco (who isn't much of a fighter) managed to goad his opponent into dishonoring himself, and Ludovico fell prey to Chloe's sleep poison, but not before he'd smugly informed her that he had subverted her plans and she had hinted she knew what was going on with his master.

Chloe ended up in prison awaiting execution. Ludovico visited her and begged her to tell what she knew of his master's fate. She agreed on the condition that Ludovico would promise to deliver a coded message to a contact.

Ludovico promised, and she said bitterly, "And if I believe that, you've got a plot of land in Marduca to sell me." Ludovico gave her his most winning smile and said, "Certainly, cousin! Shall we say 50 escudos? You won't find a better price!"

She spilled what she knew, and Ludovico delivered the message as promised, which apparently tipped off her master to break her out. We knew this because Ludovico received a package with 50 escudos in it.

So, in our latest session, Chloe turns up and surreptitiously leaks some more of her master's plans to us - we think she wants to supplant him. But before we get down to business:

Chloe: "There's another matter we need to address first, cousin. You owe me a plot of land in Marduca!"

Ludovico immediately whips out a deed for such a plot and hands it over. "Of course, cousin! Here you are, as agreed."

That actually rendered her speechless for a second, which I found just immensely satisfying!

Also in that session, we tricked the various factions of the Thieves' Guild in our home town into self-destructing and started preparing to pick up the pieces with Marco as the new Guildmaster. Among other things, this involved him proposing marriage to Margareta, the former guildmaster's daughter, a spy who has come in from the cold to work for us. They're both being very pragmatic about it.

We also arranged for a really distasteful baron to get caught red-handed doing something treasonous, which neatly put him out of everyone's misery. (As an added bonus, his eldest son also bit it, who was at least as bad as his father. The second son seems like he will be an improvement, not that that's saying much.)

And thus quietly helped the Conte of the city consolidate power. We'd decided he was the least bad option of the various political players to rule, and also put him in our debt.

(I say "our", but the Conte thinks he owes a massive and secretive organization, of which one of Ludovico's forms is but a messenger. He's amused himself testing Ludovico by seeing if he can get in and out of the palace without getting caught, even with the guards on high alert. Only fair, since Ludovico has a habit of turning up in his private chambers uninvited!)
Last edited:

Very nice. :)

I didn't manage to get in my favorite Chloe quote:

One reason why we wanted to stop the war Chloe was trying to start is that it would put our home town of Locchivo in the direct path of the invading army. Ludovico pointed out to her indignantly during their big scene that trying to destroy the city he lives in isn't very friendly!

She laughed and replied, "Oh, don't be silly! There'll be some damage, but it's not like the city will be sacked! Well... maybe it'll be sacked a little." Which drew comparisons from the players to being "a little bit pregnant"!

Incidentally, all the major cities of Fortia are named after gods of the old Fortian pantheon. (The currently dominant "Church of the Light" is surreptitiously run by the former sun god.)

Anyway, we wanted some distinctive names, so we Italianized names of Sumerian and Babylonian deities. Marduca, for example, is named after Marduk.

But we couldn't come up with a name of a trickster deity we liked, so Locchivo is named after Loki instead. :)


Dispelling Darkness, Grenades, Chainsawing Ghouls.
5e D&D Iron Gods adventure path conversion.

The party enacted their assault on their enemies, the cannibalistic Smilers gang of hobgoblins and hedgehog people led by the hobgoblin Necrosurgeon Marrow who raises a number of ghouls and old Who robomen.

Thuggish Steelhawk gang allies assaulted Smiler territory on the surface drawing forces away from the leader's compound.

The rescued ratfolk rust monster wrangler led the party and a recently reconstituted ratfolk gang through rust monster burrowed tunnels under scrapwall so the gang can assault the compound from the inside while the party goes after Marrow, anticipating she will be in her room or the accompanying operating theatre. They were right finding her working on a dead hobgoblin on the slab with only two guards. Shatter from the bard hits all four, Marrow calls up ghasts buried in her grounds just in time for the cleric to pull out a successful turn undead, which gets all three plus the undead hobgoblin captain on the slab with medical instruments in his chest cavity.

The hexblade pulls out his unholy magic chainsaw for the first time after recovering it from the cold dead hands of the Orc Lord of Rust Kulgara and goes after Marrow directly. It is a great weapon, but necrotic damage is less than ideal against undead. (I am considering letting it be other than necrotic for Army of Darkness dedite fighting appropriateness in the future).

The party bard and artificer use two of their precious fragmentation grenades to great effect, catching most of the turned undead who were trapped against a locked surgical exit door as well as the living hobgoblins, leaving Marrow as the only living opponent in sight, although this breaks the turning on the undead.

Things go bad for Marrow until she pulls out a darkness effect she has used on the party before, which she and her ghouls can see through, and which enhances her bolts of darkness ranged attacks. The undead hobgoblin from the slab takes the offensive and starts going after the robot artificer.

The kobold bard tries to dispel the darkness, I say even though it is not a spell it is close enough for a roll, which fails on the fifty fifty shot. :) The hexblade gets ghast tagged and paralyzed in the darkness and can't call out to let anyone know he is in trouble. :) The aasimar cleric then pulls out his daylight, which is not quite a match for dispelling this darkness, but thematically cool so I give him a roll like a dispel, which he fails with the same fifty fifty shot. :) But the party is resourceful and the bard's inspiration pushes it just over the edge to break the darkness and the party can move in to save the paralyzed hexblade.

More back and forth with Marrow fleeing into her storage chamber where she releases lobotomites to fight the invading ratfolk gangs and the party. These are people with the first Doctor Who robomen head gear which controls their 1 hp bodies as they call out for help while their bodies are being forced to attack the party. They die easily, but then the necrosurgical implants activate the next round and they rise up as full health zombies. The party figures out this dynamic as the living robomen beg for help and are unaffected by turning, but the risen ones just moan and are affected as undead.

Lots of failing forward, there is a series of six attacks in a row by the party that all miss. The necrosurgeon's call up ghast power recharges and she pulls in more ghast reinforcements from her grounds. The hexblade gets paralyzed again. The cleric gets tagged and misses his paralyzation save, but bardic inspiration turns that into success. Then the bard gets paralyzed. It looks bad but the cleric pulls out a key second turning then next round steps in to healing word the hexblade and space marine power fist punch out the ghast on the bard. The artificer specifically does not take any of the attacks of opportunity against the fleeing undead as they go past him.

The hexblade makes his paralyzation save and goes back to chainsaw massacreing and really gets his Ash versus a witch groove going. Fatality for Marrow which allows the hexblade's patron spirit to specter manifest and help out with the mop up. Success for the party!

Only the Lords of Rust gang with their demonic monster truck demigod patron left to deal with in Scrapwall.

aramis erak

Finally got Blade Runner to table.
Using the beginner box. Need to be careful only to give the clues they know.

I love that they made certain Coco's painted image on the handouts looks very much like David Dastmalchian, who played him in BR 2047.

It's been interesting to see Dastmalchian portray so damned many villains, that his appearance in 2047 was itself a subversion of viewer expectations, and the looks of recognition from my players showed it working just as well in the painting.

The discovery that the zombie wizard we've killed came from the village whose inhabitants all vanished, and whom we're looking for, told us that we aren't barking up the wrong tree. The players could tell that from the presence of scenario, but it makes the characters happier.


Pathfinder 2nd edition
A hag tricked the party into raiding a lizardfolk temple by convincing the party the lizardfolk were quite evil. The party returned home to report their success at the temple, only to later be ambushed by the hag and her two fellow hags. They used wall of thorns to separate the group, but eventually the original hag was low on health. She turned invisible and hid in the corner. In response, the party ordered the NPC fighter to block the doorway out of the house, which he did.

I told the party they could hear the sound of her feet running across the floor and out the door past the NPC. Players objected to how she could just run past the guy purposefully standing in the doorway to block it, but I assured them this is what they heard. They reasoned the spell she cast made her small enough to get by or gave her some slippery property. The NPC moved out of the way to engage with the remaining hags, who, as they got injured, eventually turned invisible and managed to flee.

The original hag is still in the house, invisible for about 10 minutes. The spell she cast was ghost sound, used to fake the sound of her footsteps going outside.

"Dun dun DUNNN!!! Big reveal!"

Or, to be more descriptive:

"I guess I'm... somebody else?"

Okay. It was a short session, but a bunch of stuff went down.

First, you gotta know that the Face power comes with one little hitch: The only face and form you can't ever take on is your real one.

Ludovico was made a Face as a little boy. He has no memory of what he actually looks like, and has become obsessed with finding out. (In Fate terms, this is his Trouble.)

So, we have found out that Ludovico's master has been taken across the sea to the nation of Stygia - basically legendary Egypt. And we know there's been a couple Stygians, brothers, who've been doing some quiet snooping in Fortia.

We know that Chloe was looking for one of them recently, but we don't know why. She did tip us off to the location where the ritual to drain Ludovico's master's power will occur, though, and we've been able to work out the date - several months in the future.

So, before walking into that mess in a foreign land, we decided to talk to Hakar of Atmose, one of the Stygian brothers. We managed to track him down, but he spooked and got away. We did get his journal, though - he's been looking for his older brother Moshiyah, and also trying to develop a complicated ritual that seems to be for draining a sorcerer's power... Or one of his powers? What?! You can't be two kinds of sorcerer at once, one bloodline will always be dominant.

Hot on Hakar's trail, he escaped us once again, but he left us a message saying he'd be seeing us soon in Stygia... And he used a Stygian word for "brother".

Horrible suspicions began to stir in us. We consulted with a contact of ours, an expert on ancient Stygia (he's also kinda-sorta a centuries-old semi-vampire, but no judgy) on what kind of sorcerous bloodlines Stygia has.

He's like, "Why do you want to know?!" Apparently Stygian sorcery is Not Very Nice for the most part. "They were obsessed with the boundary between life and death, what do you expect?"

He knows of four bloodlines:

Hardcore necromancers.

Immortals who get less human each time they die and eventually turn into raging monsters.

Astral travelers who tend to go mad.

Oh, and the royal family of God-Kings. Who can command obedience from those of Stygian blood, among other things.

So. We gotta know where we stand. The only one of us who could possibly be Hakar's brother is Ludovico, despite his protests that he's Fortian to the bone. His master and adoptive dad wouldn't have lied to him!! (Marco: "He's a spy, isn't he?" "Well... yeah.")

We adapt the power-stealing ritual to (temporarily) transfer Ludovico's Face power to a willing street urchin. (Our contact the semi-vampire insists on being present, and says he'll shoot me in the leg if I turn out to be a necromancer.) And a young Stygian prince stands before them, with eyes of solid, glowing green.

I can instantly sense that our contact is half-Stygian, and sweetly ask him to hand me the gun. His hand shakes as he struggles to resist the command, despite his centuries of life and experience. He settles for setting it down instead.

So. Ludovico - Moshiyah - is not only Stygian. He's the closest thing left to the country's freaking God-King!

(In game terms, he's only half-blooded. If he were full-blooded, he'd basically be Pharaoh for the asking, but there hasn't been one of those for a long time. The GM said that if one half-blood could drain another, though, they could effectively become full-blooded, which is probably what Hakar is planning to do to Ludovico. The catch is, Hakar has the blood but can't get full use out of it since Moshiyah is the eldest!)

I've known since the first arc finished that Ludovico was actually a Stygian sorcerer that many factions wanted to control. He was turned into a Face to suppress his power and hide him away. I've been plotting with the GM toward this for some time, and it's really satisfying to see it come out.

But the GM kept one twist to himself. I was NOT expecting the God-King business, which... Yeah. :) Makes everything more complicated!

Meanwhile, poor Ludovico is going through a major existential crisis right when he needs to be at his best! Yep, this is gonna be fun!
Last edited:

Meanwhile Marco our scholar is all afire to create an item that would let me switch bloodlines with a relatively simple ritual - which would cement his reputation as a magical crafter forever.

Oh, and remember what bloodline Marco has? Yeah. Envy. Ludovico gaining this power boost may be a problem.
Last edited:


B/X Known World
1. Savage Pathfinder playtest under way.

I thought I would dig it, but it’s just kinda meh.

2. DCC funnel about to start.

Another batch of new and newish players about to start playing DCC with a funnel. Looking forward so the belly laughs from the random character deaths and the realization of how drastically different leveled-play works compared to the funnel.

3. And new Road Crew swag.

The 2023 Goodman Games Road Crew landing page has arrived. Looking forward to getting that sweet, sweet free swag.

"I've got a son now?!"

So, remember that street urchin who received Ludovico's/Moshiyah's Face power?

We've been intending to set up an orphanage to start training kids as spies to work for us for a while now. The plans aren't quite ready yet, but I figure I may as well try recruiting.

The kid's 8 or so, name of Giovanni. I mention the whole orphanage thing and he's really suspicious. I decide to try out one of my new Pharaoh powers and offer to 'adopt' him as an honorary Stygian, phrasing it as "one of my people". (It has to be done on a willing subject.) His ears prick up at the word "adopt" and he asks if this would be "forever", clearly hoping that it would be. I assure him it will be, and he agrees.

I cast the spell... And roll absurdly well.

The GM rules that Giovanni's features visibly change to be more Stygian, and indeed his features now resemble my own! Metaphysically speaking, he's now my firstborn son!

Well. That was unexpected? I dump my last couple Fate points into making him a full-blown character with a +3 pyramid, and also incorporate him into one of my aspects.

This should be interesting...

I had fun writing Giovanni's aspects. His trouble is: "You Can Take the Urchin out of the Street..."

Also, this was hilarious:

I changed one my aspects to "My Friends and Giovanni are All I Have Left", explaining "I can't trust my master any more, and I certainly can't trust my Stygian family!"

GM, sweetly, "But you can certainly trust your cousin!" (Meaning Chloe.)

Jerk. :)

An Advertisement