Thursday, December 24, 2009

Moon Goddess: Scene 20

Introduction to this thread: The Moon Goddess Is A Harsh Mistress
Explanation of 
Mythic elements: What's All This Mythic Stuff?
Previous Scene: Scene 19


SCENE 20
In which Katja confronts the soldiers and rescues Nina thanks to an unexpected burst of power.

CHARACTERS
The Silver Huntress (her deity)
Soldiers/Police
Drachen (her old warhorse)
Nina Yazov
Nina's Mother (Anna Yazov)
Nina's Father (Mr. Yazov)
The Hard Man with the Nasty Scar
Susi
Yuliya
Igor
Deidre
Nina's uncle Ulrich
The target of Nina's hunt
Hamid
Professor Nasir
The Commissar
Fanquin Lanfeng
The girls from New Zealand
Crewmen from the smaller ship
Other passengers
Nora (the red-headed girl from New Zealand)

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Deliver antique sword to the target of Nina's hunt
* Investigate the Moon Goddess Cult in New Zealand
* Rescue Igor/Nina

CHAOS FACTOR: 8

********************
Interrupt scene!

[PC Positive, Transform (with) Information. I'll proceed as expected and the interrupt event will enter play as soon as I can work it in...]
Katja pauses for a moment as she observes the scene on the dock. She knows her plan is desperate...

Katja: "We need to sneak off the ship and gain access to one of those automobiles. Once inside, I'll enact a Sanctuary ritual. It should prevent the soldiers from shooting at me, and by extension the rest of you while we drive into their midst. I've never held a Sanctuary for more than about half a minute. We won't have much time and I'm not sure where we'll go when it runs out."

The brunette who was recently freed from her bonds: "Wait! Nora, what about Anna's scrolls? They must be on the ship. Surely they might contain something useful."
CQ: Name of the other girl [Kleimo]? Marna
Nora: "We have no time, Marna."

Katja: "Wait, Nina's father is already dead. We have a minute so if it buys us an advantage. Do you think you can find it?"

Marna: "I'll try."

Marna races off into the ship with the blond girl at her heels. A very tense minute passes as Katja watches the soldiers force Nina to her feet in preparation to march her off. Amazingly [as per the interrupted scene], Marna returns carrying a small silver-engraved ivory chest. She lays it on the floor, quickly opens it, and withdraws the first scroll she finds.

Katja takes it and reads.
Q: Is it in German [Likely.. Katja must be able to read it and it certainly isn't in Russian]? Yes.
Q: Katja's hand-writing [50/50]? Yes.
Katja: "It's in German... in my hand! It describes a very powerful ritual of transformation. I can almost feel the power."

Without thinking, Katja begins to read the spell out loud. The other girls step back as Kata's eyes begin to glow silvery-white. As she reads, Katja's soft-spoken soprano gives way to a growling tenor. As she reads, her face becomes bestial with deadly looking fangs. Claws sprout from the ends of her now powerful hands and her arms, back, chest, and legs ripple with muscles.

Retaining her intellect but consumed with a thirst for bloody vengeance, Katja bursts through the cabin window...
ASIDE: For the duration of the scene, Katja's "Mistress of the Hunt (4)" will become "Mistress of the Hunt in Primal Form (4d10)". 
RISUS: She rolls 33 on her improved cliche
... and easily clears the distance to the dock and then some. She is upon the startled soldiers before they are even aware of her presence.
Q: Are the soldiers at least a 4 dice grunt squad [Likely]? Extreme no. In their startled state, this particular group is only a Group of Dumbfounded and Startled Soldiers (2).
Katja rips into the soldiers, hurling them aside, slashing at their throats, and making every effort to prevent them from raising their weapons. She rolls 28. The soldiers roll only an 8 and the critical is enough to leave them completely decimated. Some are killed, some were thrown into the freezing water, and others are running for their lives.
Q: Does Professor Nasir run for his life [Likely]? Yes.
Q: Does Nina realize it must be Katja [Likely]? Yes.
To Nina, Katja growls "Get on the smaller ship."

And with that, Katja races off after Professor Nasir.
RISUS: Katja rolls a 19 to pursue.
Katja is upon him in heartbeat.
Q: Does he draw the sword in his defense [50/50]? Yes.
Q: Is he impeded by the curse of the sword [50/50]? Yes.
Realizing that he is cornered, Professor Nasir tries to unwrap the sword that he is carrying. In the process he cuts himself on the very sharp blade. Katja doesn't give him any time to suffer the inevitable effects of the curse, as [roll of 29] she rips his throat out and takes the sword for herself.
Q: Are there soldiers mounting a defense [50/50]? Extreme yes.
There is smoke and rapid-fire thunder and Katja realizes that a group of Entrenched Soldiers (5) have formed up to oppose her behind a barricade. Riding her battle frenzy, Katja darts to one side, rolls, leaps to the other side and finally makes a mad leap towards their position as the soldiers try to track her movements with their firearms. 
RISUS: In her primal form, Katja's cliche is appropriate vs. firearms. Katja rolls 17. The soldiers, however roll 23.
Katja fails to advance on their position, taking several bullet wounds in the process.
Q: Is Katja close to the building where they were holding Igor [50/50]? Extreme no (she's closer to the water).
Realizing the folly of a frontal assault. Katja dives into the water. Various soldiers leave their position to spot where she will surface. Even in her primal form, the water is too cold to swim far [she rolls a 4]. A Detachment of Soldiers (3) fire on her. [They roll 11 to her 12] She just barely evades their fire, swimming deep in an attempt to come up on the other side of the ship. She does and [rolling 13] quickly scales the passenger ship, scaring countless passengers in the process. Safe from their weapons, she attempts a healing spell. [Rolling 15] She heals her wounds so that she may rejoin combat
refreshed.

She glances towards the smaller ship and sees that Nina has been taken aboard by the girls from New Zealand.

The sword. She's still holding the sword.
Q: Does she feel and benefit from its power [50/50]? Yes. It almost makes her (considerable) hair stand on end.
CQ: What is the nature of its enchantment [Mythic Event Action/Subject]? Bestow advice. In addition to being a +1d6 bonus die item, it speaks to her in the voice of a long dead child seer.
CQ: What advice does the sword give [Mythic Event Action/Subject]? Extravagance of environment.
She feels its power. She can almost hear the voice of a child ... and then suddenly, Katja can visualize the entire battlefield from all angles.
Q: Is Igor still guarded [Unlikely]? No.
Q: Does she see reinforcements coming [50/50]? No.
She sees Igor struggling out of his bonds without a guard in sight. She sees the desperate soldiers looking about in terror, some of them advancing up the gangplank of the passenger ship to investigate the terrified screams. And she sees clearly that there are no more reinforcements coming.

Racing through a couple of cabins, she doesn't hesitate as she barrels down the gangplank towards the soldiers. She leads with the sword and the Soldiers (3) try to raise their weapons to fire before she is upon them them. [She rolls 17 to the soldier's 11.] She kills one, but the others halt her advance.

In a mad melee, the remaining soldiers on the gangplank stab at her with bayonets. She retaliates with a whirlwind of steel and claws. [Rolling 28 to their 8] She slaughters them to the man.

The Entrenched Soldiers (4) (reduced in power due to the soldiers killed on the gangplank) fire their weapons. Katja once again dives into the water for cover. [Rolling a 19 to their 18] Katja barely avoids their fire. From under the water, with a vision from the sword, she swims along the dock well behind their position. [Rolling 28] She stealthily climbs up and then races at them from behind their barricade. [Rolling 23 to their 10] She finds herself in their midst, hacking and slashing with reckless abandon. She kills several [reducing their cliche by 1 since she only rolled 1 for critical damage]. In the next turn, [rolling 26 to their 9] she completely finishes them off. There are no survivors.

Katja breathes heavily, the heat of battle giving way to the freezing cold of evaporating water. She feels herself shrinking into her normal form and a great weariness sets in. She is dimly aware of a heavy coat being draped about her curiously bare shoulders.

********************

CHARACTERS - Marna is added to the list. Nina's father and Professor Nasir are removed.

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Deliver antique sword to the target of Nina's hunt
* Investigate the Moon Goddess Cult in New Zealand
* Rescue Igor

Updated Chaos Factor 7


Note: The remaining scenes of this episode are largely denouement. Due to the Christmas holiday (which I will mostly spend away from computers), these scenes will likely be posted starting in early January.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Moon Goddess: Scene 19

Introduction to this thread: The Moon Goddess Is A Harsh Mistress
Explanation of 
Mythic elements: What's All This Mythic Stuff?
Previous Scene: Scene 18


SCENE 19
In which Katja meets the girls from New Zealand and witnesses a new turn of events on shore.

CHARACTERS
The Silver Huntress (her deity)
Soldiers/Police
Drachen (her old warhorse)
Nina
Nina's Mother
Nina's Father
The Hard Man with the Nasty Scar
Susi
Yuliya
Igor
Deidre
Nina's uncle Ulrich
The target of Nina's hunt
Hamid
Professor Nasir
The Commissar
Fanquin Lanfeng
The girls from New Zealand
Crewmen from the smaller ship
Other passengers

THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Deliver antique sword to the target of Nina's hunt
* Investigate the Moon Goddess Cult in New Zealand
* Rescue Igor

CHAOS FACTOR: 8

********************
Interrupt scene!
[NPC Action (Professor Nasir), Imprison Plans... he's going to show up on shore (see below)]
Q: Is the lead girl Russian [50/50]? Yes (I'm assuming the others are not).
Q: Does she see Nina's mother in Katja [Likely]? Yes.
CQ: What is the older girl like [wikipedia]? Nova Scotia. I'm assuming she's fair skinned, freckled, and red-headed as well.
The red-headed young woman (holding the axe) says something in what Katja has come to recognize as Russian.

Katja shakes her head and replies back in English, "I'm sorry, I don't speak Russian. But you are the girls from the land of New Zealand, correct?"
CQ: What is the surname of Nina's mother [EE - Russian Surname]? Yazov
The red-head says, "Yes! You look like Anna Yazov. But she's been dead for years, and was she much older even then."

Suddenly, another young girl [Q: Blond (50/50)? Yes], this time a blond, says from across the cabin, "[CQ: Name (EE - Russian female)? Leonora] Nora, there's something happening on shore."

The red-head named Nora lets her gaze linger on Katja as she moves towards the window. She then looks and [Q: Does she recognize Nina's father (50/50)? Yes] stifles a cry of anguish.

Nora: "They are killing Mr. Yazov!" She looks back towards Katja sympathetically and pleadingly at the same time.
Q: Are there at least for girls [likely]? Yes, there are four.
Q: Does the cabin look like it's been inhabited by the girls for some time [50/50]? Yes.
Q: Are there signs of restraint [likely]? Yes.
Katja takes in the small cabin. In addition to Nora, there are three young women: the brunette girl with the red cylinder, the blond, and [Q: Brunette (50/50)? Yes] another brunette. From the clothes and other personal affects, it looks as if the girls have been in this cabin for a while. From their clothes, it looks like they have travelled from a much warmer climate (the cabin itself is strangely warm). Additionally, the blond girl is helping the smaller brunette out of restraints. Other ropes lay on the floor.

These girls were formerly captives. No wonder they were so eager to batter the two crewmen who were chasing Katja.

Katja marvels at the young women. As clear as day, they are the women that she saw printed on the paper under the sword in her dream. Amazing... wait... they said she looked like Anna Yazov. The man who was being killed was Mr. Yazov!

"Nina's father!"

Katja races to the window and looks down upon the scene on the dock.
Q: Is My. Yazov still moving [Unlikely]? No.
Q: Is Nina Visible [50/50]? Yes
Q: Can Professor Nasir be scene carrying the sword [Likely - implied by random event]? Yes.
Q: Is he walking out without being noted by the guards (who are mostly around Nina and her dying father) [50/50]? No. He is interacting with them.
Q: Is Nina crying over her dead/dying father [50/50]/ Yes
Nina is now on the ground, crying over her dead or dying father. She is cursing the soldiers in Russian as they threaten her with their weapons.

A man emerges from the building that housed Igor. It's Professor Nasir. And he's holding the sword! He turns it over in his hands as he walks toward the activity. Some soldiers move to threaten him as well, but they are stopped by one of their officers. With a word, the soldiers part to let him through.

He speaks to Nina in Russian and Nina spits in his direction.
Q: Does Nasir look sorry for what is happening to Nina [Unlikely]? Extreme yes.
Professor Nasir fights through tears as he continues to address Nina.

Katja: "Nora, can you make out what he is saying?"
Q: Through the window and from this distance, can Nora understand what is being said [Unlikely]? Yes.
CQ: What is he talking about [Brewers]? Jacquard Loom. Hmmm... I'll interpret Loom as meaning Fate/destiny.
Q: Has he betrayed the Yakov family before [Likely]? Yes
Nora: "He's sorry that fate has once again forced him to betray the Yazovs.... That bastard! He's the one who sold out Anna."

This time, the eyes of all the girls fall upon Katja.
Q: Does the blond ask Katja what she is going to do about it [50/50]? Yes
Blond: "Anna? It must be you! You have returned to lead your flock once again! Surely you can intervene!"

Katja: "I'm sorry, but I'm not your Anna. We share some kind of bond, that much I'm certain. But I am new to your world. And I'm afraid I don't know how I can help Nina or her father. There are so many guards, and I've called on the Silver Huntress so much already."

All the girls look to her, the hope in their eyes feels like it burns.

Katja: "But you are right. We must do something. The Goddess didn't guide us to this moment for nothing. Tell me, are you able to channel her power?"
Q: Are they [Very Unlikely]? Yes...barely (assume Nora only).

Q: Does she still have spells she can cast after her (presumed) months of captivity [Very Unlikely]? Yes, though I presume that she doesn't have anything dramatic at this point.
Nora: "I know some rituals. I receive them in dreams sometimes. I can create light and accelerate healing. If I could only pray under the moon, I might gain additional miracles."

Katja: "It's no matter. I'm fairly certain I can intervene in the disturbance below, but I'm less certain of my ability to get away. If only I knew how to operate those automobiles."

Nora: "I can drive. What do you want us to do?"

Katja smiles. "I think I have a plan."

********************

CHARACTERS - Add Nora as a separate character from the other New Zealand girls. Update Nina and her parents' names.

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Deliver antique sword to the target of Nina's hunt
* Investigate the Moon Goddess Cult in New Zealand
* Rescue Igor/Nina

Updated Chaos Factor 8 (still a balance between being in control and being out
of control)

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Moon Goddess: Scene 18

Introduction to this thread: The Moon Goddess Is A Harsh Mistress
Explanation of 
Mythic elements: What's All This Mythic Stuff?
Previous Scene: Scene 17


SCENE 18
In which Katja tries to get off the ship.

CHARACTERS
The Silver Huntress (her deity)
Soldiers/Police
Drachen (her old warhorse)
Nina
Nina's Mother
Nina's Father
The Hard Man with the Nasty Scar
Susi
Yuliya
Igor
Deidre
Nina's uncle Ulrich
The target of Nina's hunt
Hamid
Professor Nasir
The Commissar
Fanquin Lanfeng
The girls from New Zealand

THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Deliver antique sword to the target of Nina's hunt
* Investigate the Moon Goddess Cult in New Zealand
* Rescue Igor

CHAOS FACTOR: 8

********************

Interrupted Scene!
[Ambiguous Event, Struggle (with) The Intellectual. I'll interpret this as some kind of disturbance on the shore as security officers try to arrest of group of "intellectuals". While technically ambiguous, Katja and Nina may try to use it for their advantage.]
After navigating a maze of corridors, Nina leads Katja to the aft side of the deck...
Q: Are there any passengers on the deck [Unikely in the cold]? Extreme yes. RANDOM EVENT (see below)
...and suddenly stop in a crowd of passengers watching some kind of disturbance
on shore. Katja lets her Moonblade vanish and Nina hides her sword.
Q: Does Nina use the crowd (and a roll of 9 on her depleted Super-Spy cliche) to blend into the crowd with Katja [50/50... the target would likely be somewhere between 5 and 15]? Extreme yes.
Quickly filching a discarded blanket and parka for cover, Nina leads Katja into the thick of crowd. Moving closer to the rail, Katja is able to see a crowd of security officers surrounding some older men on the pier. One of the soldiers smashes one of the men's nose with the butt of his weapon.
RANDOM EVENT (From above): NPC Negative (Nina's Father) Kill Love... eek!
In Russian, Nina screams what could only be "Father!".

Suddenly all eyes are on Nina. The guard who had assaulted her father stabs the prone man in the chest with a knife affixed to the end of his firearm. Nina screams and the soldiers on shore rush towards the gang plank.

Q: Does the crowd part to leave Nina (and presumably Katja) isolated on the deck [50/50]? No.

The crowd on the deck begins to move and Nina and Katja are swept up in the confusion.
Q: Are Nina and Katja sepparated [Unlikely]? Yes.
Katja is suddenly aware that she is alone as Nina is carried off by the crowd. Riding the crowd a few more moments, Katja tries to duck into a hiding place.
RISUS: She'll rolls 17 vs. Mistress of the Hunt (a fairly applicable cliche). [Q: Is this enough to succeed (Very likely)? Yes]. She succeeds.
Minutes pass. Katja is alone.

Thinking quickly, she remembers that she still has spells that she prayed for. The deck is currently empty but there is a fantastic commotion on shore.

Q: Would be possible to jump onto another ship from the deck [Very unlikely]? Yes, though it won't be easy.
Q: Is the deck of the other ship clear [Unlikely]? No, there are crew men watching the events on shore.

Looking to a smaller ship docked behind this one, Katja guesses that she could make the leap with effort. But there are two crewmen on the deck, watching Nina's father die on the shore. If she jumped, they might raise an alarm. She could continue to hide, but if they caught Nina and made her talk... and even if they didn't make her talk, she couldn't leave Nina and Igor to face death or imprisonment. She had to act.

Counting to three, Katja runs at full speed towards the rail. She rolls 11 on Mistress of the Hunt [Q: is this enough (Unlikely)? Yes] and clears the gap between the ships, rolling on the deck as she lands.
Q: Do they stare blankly in surprise [50/50]? Extreme no!
Q: Do they rush to protect her [Unlikely]? Extreme no! Damn!
The crewman see her and immediately as someone trying to avoid capture by the government. Whether they are naturally law abiding or trying to curry favor with the port authorities, they rush to grab Katja and restrain her.
Q: Can Katja escape with a simple TN roll [Very unlikely]? Yes.
Q: Is a roll of 13 on Mistress of the Hunt enough [50/50... likely between TN10 and TN15]? Yes, RANDOM EVENT (see below).
Katja scurries through their legs and races around to the water side of the deck, looking for cover.
RANDOM EVENT (from above): NPC Action (Girls from New Zealand), Decrease New Ideas... wow, that's out of left field... knocking somebody out would surely decrease their capacity to have new ideas.
As Katja races around the deck, she hears a shout followed by two "THUDS" followed by a "Pssst! Oy!"

Katja turns and sees two under-dressed young women, one holding a red metal cylinder and the other and single-bladed axe that is too big for her. Below them are the unconscious bodies of the men that were chasing Katja.

Katja smiles, looks heavenward, and says "Thank you!"

********************

CHARACTERS - Add unconscious crewmen and the other passengers.

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Deliver antique sword to the target of Nina's hunt
* Investigate the Moon Goddess Cult in New Zealand
* Rescue Igor

Updated Chaos Factor 8 (it was heading for a raise until the very last random event)

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Target Numbers and the Single Slayer

This past weekend's Slaying Solomon premier was snowed out in the storm of the century (I can say that because 1996 was so last century). Still, I have been thinking more about using Risus as a tool to help run Buffy: The Vampire Slayer RPG. Specifically, I have thinking about magic.

Now, Buffy actually comes with a really simple magic system. In a nutshell, magic spells are rated on a scale of 1-6+. There are a few handy charts that translate what types of effects are appropriate for a given power level. The Magic Box supplement expands these tables and there are a small handful of modifiers based on tweaking out the spell definition.

I haven't found too much need to simplify that.

However, there have been times when the flow of the game is such that I don't want to break stride to consult the Buffy tables to define a new spell. In some cases, I can wing it by comparing the new spell to an old standard (we make heavy use of a Power Level 3 seeker spell). In other cases, I use Risus.

The Risus Companion describes a pretty nifty magic system in the section called "Target Numbers and the Single Showoff". This system is so simple and elegant that I borrowed it wholesale for Silverlode and Dragonspire. The gist is that the difficulty of casting a spell is tied to the dramatic impact of the spell and how generous it is to other players (easy) and how much it steals their limelight (hard). I use this system so much that I've internalized the chart and can mentally translate the Target Numbers to other systems. In the case of BtVS:RPG, I translate them as follows:

Simple (TN5)
Power Level 1: Any effect up to and including that which helps the party achieve something as a whole, or that acts as a tool to facilitate another activity.
Ordinary (TN10)
Power Level 2: A standard effect that is meant to overcome a single obstacle that faces the character, or handle the character's share of an obstacle that faces the party.
Complex (TN15)
Power Level 3: The effect would hog the scene a bit.
Difficult (TN20)
Power Level 4: The effect would entirely upstage the other players, turning the other characters into bystanders for the rest of the scene and then some.
Dangerous (TN25)
Power Level 5: The effect would shortcut (or instantly rewrite) the whole scenario.
Impossible (TN30)
Power Level 6: The effect would utterly wreck the campaign world or campaign plot line.

I should add that it is easier for a Buffy character to succeed at a Power Level 5 or Power Level 6 spell than it is for a Risus character to succeed at a Dangerous or Impossible spell. Therefore, I'd almost certainly adjust the Power Level upwards, make spell component prohibitive, and introduce severe consequences for failure. 

Finally, I should say that I do like the Buffy system when I actually have the small amount of extra time needed to define spell effects. I would love to go the other way and use the Buffy system in certain Risus games. That will have to be another post for another day.

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Christmas Crazy

Christmas is almost upon the Risus Monkey household and I'm waaay behind schedule on doing my part to ensure the crass commercialization of the holiday. And the holidays are inherently hectic. When it's all over, I'm going to want a vacation from my vacation.

Anyway, there hasn't been a lot of non-Mythic posts lately, but I hope to rectify that soon. I've signed on to run a Pirates vs. Vampires chat game in the coming year, so I'll definitely be blogging my preparations. I'm specifically going to need to work out how to handle ships combat. I'll be heading over to Risustalk to hash that all out and will post the results here.

And I hope that folks are enjoying The Moon Goddess is a Harsh Mistress. The action is picking up as we head towards the final scenes of this episode. There's a lot of Risus in these posts, as combat plays an important part.

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Moon Goddess: Scene 17

Introduction to this thread: The Moon Goddess Is A Harsh Mistress
Explanation of 
Mythic elements: What's All This Mythic Stuff?
Previous Scene: Scene 16


SCENE 17
In which Katja and Nina attempt to ambush two guards, take their clothes, and leave the ship undetected. It doesn't work out so well...

CHARACTERS
The Silver Huntress (her deity)
Soldiers/Police
Drachen (her old warhorse)
Nina
Nina's Mother
Nina's Father
The Hard Man with the Nasty Scar
Susi
Yuliya
Igor
Deidre
Nina's uncle Ulrich
The target of Nina's hunt
Hamid
Professor Nasir
The Commissar
Fanquin Lanfeng
The girls from New Zealand

THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Deliver antique sword to the target of Nina's hunt
* Investigate the Moon Goddess Cult in New Zealand
* Rescue Igor

CHAOS FACTOR: 7

********************

The scene is altered (ask some questions to see how).
Q: Instead encountering two female members of the crew, do they encounter a single crew person of Katja's size [50/50]? No.
Q: A single woman of Nina's size [50/50]? No.
Q: Two smallish (but male) guards [50/50]? Yes.
Roaming the halls of the ship looking for two female crew members to ambush, Katja and Nina instead come face-to-face with two armed guards. They are men, but not particularly large.
Q: Are the guards looking for Katja or Nina [Unlikely]? No.
One of the guards tips his hat to Katja (who was dressed in reasonably attractive clothing by Nina). Katja smiles and drops her purse.
Q: Does Nina take the hint and go for a knock-out blow of the a guard as he bend down to pick up Katja's purse [Likely]? No (I'll assume the guard doesn't bother to bend down).
The guard just stares at her.

Katja looks at the guard and says (in German), "aren't there any gentlemen in this country?" She then clutches her holy symbol and attempts to cast Hold Person [TN9] on the larger of the two. With a roll of 20, she succeeds by a wide margin (so much so that I won't bother having the guard resist).

Nina then winds up with [Q: The butt of her pistol (50/50)? Yes] the butt of her pistol and tries to knock out the surprised smaller one.

NOTE: Up until this point, I haven't defined Nina's cliches. I'll define at least one of them now.

Q: Does Nina have at least 4 dice in a cliche that involves knocking out mooks (something like Super-Spy or Intelligence Operative) (Likely)? Yes.
Nina rolls 15 on her cliche to knock out the remaining solider.
Q: Is this enough to knock him out without a fight [Very likely]? No! That means we'll start a combat.
Q: Does the soldier have at least Tough Russian Soldier (4) [Unlikely]? Yes.
Q: Does the soldier shout for help before fighting back [Unlikely]? Yes.
Letting out a shout, the soldier balls his fist and prepares to strike Nina. Nina crouches into a combat stance while Katja grabs the other soldier's gun and brandishes it.
RISUS: Katja is Teaming Up with Nina but has no relevant cliches. Thus, the rules for When Somebody Can't Participate are invoked (adding two dice to everyone).
The soldier rolls 28 on 6 dice. Nina rolls 16 and Katja doesn't roll any 6's. Thus, Nina loses 3 dice due to a critical [1d6 damage if margin is 10+] as a powerful blow sends her sprawling.

Katja rushes to Nina's side with a quick word of encouragement and attempt to heal her and boost her spirits with divine magic. She rolls 10 to perform the minor healing and Nina gets up with only a bloody nose (she is now only 1 die down in her "Super Spy" cliche).
Q: Does Nina have a secondary cliche with 4 dice that will help in this situation [50/50]? Yes.
Q: Remembering the Indiana Jones character that inspired her, I'm guessing that it is something like "Fencing Master". Is there anything lying around that she can use as an improvised sword [Unlikely]? Extreme yes! Nina had her sword the whole time.
Nina whips out her previously disguised sword and prepares to strike. In a hushed whisper, Katja says "don't kill him!".
Q: Does Nina go for the kill [50/50]? No.
Nina instead aims to inflict pain. She rolls 23 to the soldier's 22. He is now down 1 die from a painful stab-wound in his right arm.
Q: It has now been several seconds, do the combatants hear anybody else approaching [Unlikely (the odds will go up every turn)]? Yes.
Katja: "End it now or we must flee!"

In a rage, the soldier moves to pick up his rifle and aim it at Nina. Nina pumps her Fencing Master cliche to 5 dice in a dramatic lunge. Katja summons her Moonblade and assists.
RISUS: When Somebody Can't Participate no longer applies so every uses their regular dice totals.
The soldier rolls 14. Nina rolls 23. Katja casts her spell but doesn't bring it to bear in time [she didn't roll any 6's]. The soldier drops to two dice as he takes another sword wound in his shoulder. Nina was aiming for the heart.

The fight is taking place in a narrow hall below deck. One soldier is frozen in place and another bleeding and yelling in pain. Nina and Katja are both brandishing weapons (a sword and mystical scimitar respectively).

Katja: "Get him to yield!"

Nina: "I think we're beyond that!'

Nina attacks with her (now reduced) Fencing Master cliche, rolling 9 on 3 dice as her emotions get the better of her technique. Seemingly unwilling to kill the guard, Katja doesn't offer much help [she didn't roll any 6's to assist]. The soldier rolls 7 and loses another die, as his wounds have almost caught up with him.
Q: Do more guards show up now [50/50]? Yes.
Q: Another two [Likely]? Yes.
Q: Are they mooks (a 3 die grunt squad) [50/50]? Yes.
The wounded guard yells something and the other soldiers advance with their guns pointed forward, shouting things in Russian. Nina is about ready to lower her sword when Katja utters another prayer to the Silver Huntress in attempt to summon a celestial wolf [She rolls 14 on TN12 and succeeds]. It appears in front of the advancing soldiers and starts attacking.

The Celestial Wolf (3) attacks the soldiers but only rolls 5. The soliders bring their guns to bear, shoot, and roll 7 to wound it. Nina chooses this moment to finnish off the wounded soldier. She rolls 10 to his 1 and puts him down.

Nina: "Come on, while your demon wolf fights those two. Let's run!"

Katja follows and the two try to find another way off the ship.

********************

CHARACTERS - No change (soldiers already on the list and the celestial wolf is a temporary ally).

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Deliver antique sword to the target of Nina's hunt
* Investigate the Moon Goddess Cult in New Zealand
* Rescue Igor

Updated Chaos Factor 8

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Moon Goddess: Scene 16

Introduction to this thread: The Moon Goddess Is A Harsh Mistress
Explanation of 
Mythic elements: What's All This Mythic Stuff?
Previous Scene: Scene 15



SCENE 16
In which Katja and Nina encounter a security checkpoint while boarding a ship for England.

CHARACTERS
The Silver Huntress (her deity)
Soldiers/Police
Drachen (her old warhorse)
Nina
Nina's Mother
Nina's Father
The Hard Man with the Nasty Scar
Susi
Yuliya
Igor
Deidre
Nina's uncle Ulrich
The target of Nina's hunt
Hamid
Professor Nasir
The Commissar
Fanquin Lanfeng
The girls from New Zealand

THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Deliver antique sword to the target of Nina's hunt
* Investigate the Moon Goddess Cult in New Zealand

CHAOS FACTOR: 6

********************
The scene occurs as expected.

Q: Is Igor with Katja and Nina [50/50]? Yes.
Q: Is there a long line people waiting for security to check their travel papers [Likely]? No.
Q: Is it snowing [50/50]? Yes.
The weather has taken a turn for the worse and a steady snow falls from the sky. The docks are surprisingly free of civilians, though many people in uniform can be seen. Katja is dumbfounded at the sight of the enormous metal behemoths. On her world, ships were made of wood and only a fraction of the size of these giants.
Q: Is Nina still dressed in her uniform [50/50]? No
CQ: (get a bunch of names of Nina's cover story from EVERYONE EVERYWHERE)
Nina: "We're approaching a checkpoint. Remember, I am Eva Biehl and you are my younger sister, Helga. We were visiting our sister Magda Kovalyov in Kronstadt. She is married to Oleg Kovalyov, a fisherman. Best to let me do the talking."

Katja: "What about Igor?"
Q: Is Igor still walking with them [50/50]? Yes
Q: Does Nina say that Igor will make his own way through security and that they do not know him [Likely]? Yes
Nina: "Igor will be making his own way through security. We only just met him. We will say that he claimed to be trade representative, if we are asked."

Sure enough, they encounter a checkpoint on the way to the ship. Igor goes through first.
Q: Does Igor have any problems with security [Unlikely]? Yes.
Q: Is he pulled out of line [50/50]? Yes.
He presents his papers. The soldier examines them closely and Igor looks nonplussed. But the guard is not letting him through and Igor begins to get angry. Another guard comes up and they converse in Russian. Igor continues to argue and they eventually pull him out of line and escort him to a small building.
Q: Does this appear to bother Nina [50/50]? Extreme yes.
Katja is obviously distressed. She looks to Nina for encouragement and is horrified to see the look of extreme anxiety on Nina's face. Something is wrong. Thoughts of a return to prison almost paralyze Katja. In her desperation, she reaches into the heavy coat that Nina gave her and pulls out Nina's mother's holy symbol. She begins a small prayer under her breath.

Q: Does Nina notice and try to stop Katja's spell [Unlikely]? Extreme no.
When the guards return from their post and prepare to receive them, Katja strides forward and begins reciting a prayer to the Silver Huntress that she wrote with Bix in better days. The prayer is in Pembroke (English in this world), but if her spell is successful it shouldn't matter.
RISUS: Katja is casting an Enthrall spell. It will be a simple TN9 roll to cast the  spell. Katja rolls 18. An outstanding success!
The checkpoint guards, Nina, and several bystanders enthralled. Katja grips Nina by the arm and gives her solid pinch. Nina recovers and realizes what is going on. While Katja has the attention of the guards, Nina walks over the to the small building.
Q: Is Igor currently unguarded [Unlikely]? Extreme no (he is guarded by several soldiers that have not been affected by Katja).
Q: Does Nina have the sword [50/50]? Extreme no (it's obviously with Igor).
Continuing (and repeating) her prayer in a divinely melodic voice, she watches Nina pacing by the door of the guard building. Igor has the sword in his luggage. His luggage is in the building. Katja is powerless to help as long as she maintains her Entrallment...

Then Katja has an idea. She beckons for Nina. Continuing her prayer, she uses gestures to try to tell Nina to ask the Entralled guards to provide assistance.
RISUS: This will be a base TN7 roll for an ideal cliche. Katja has no ideal cliches. Her cleric cliche might have marginal relevance, but she is unlikely to succeed on a TN17 roll. Her Mistress of the Hunt cliche might include the ability to gesture to hunting partners. Again, this is a tertiary ability at best (for a TN17). It's either that or Self-doubting Chosen one (which could be TN7 in this desperate circumstance). Yes, she'll roll on her Chosen-One cliche... and fails.
Q: But does Nina figure it out for herself [50/50]? No.
Frustrated and feeling like she couldn't possibly keep this up much longer, she smiles as she repeats her prayer and walks forward towards the ship, her own bags in her hand. She looks back and Nina, pleadingly.
Q: Does Nina follow [Very Likely]? Yes
Nina grabs her own bags and marches up the gangplank. Nina beckons for the guard to remain behind on the dock. On ship, she halts her prayer and goes below deck, trying to ignore the stares of crew and passengers alike.

In hushed tones, Nina says "We cannot leave the sword. It's the reason we are going."

Katja: "I did what I could. It's not my fault that you couldn't use my distraction. Besides, I thought you had this all planned out."

Nina: "Igor must have been recognized. I didn't think it was possible."

Katja: "Recognized? You mean they were looking for him?"

Nina: "They couldn't possibly have been looking for him. It's been years."
Q: Does Nina mention that Igor was associated with her mother's organization [50/50]? No (we'll just leave it at that).
Katja: "We'll get the sword or it will come to us."

Nina: "What are you talking about?"

Katja: "My vision. The Goddess has shown me the sword in a dream. We're meant to have it. This is merely a temporary set-back."
Q: Does Nina react angrily to Katja [50/50]? Extreme no (interesting).
Nina: "I wish I had your faith. As it is, I don't see how it's possible."

Katja looks at Nina sympathetically, imagining that she can see the pain of regret in her eyes. Nina loved her mother but their differences drove them apart.

Katja: "Let's get to our cabin and we'll try to come up with something. When is the ship supposed to leave?"
Q: Later this afternoon [Likely]? Yes
Nina: "It leaves later this afternoon."

Katja: "Then we must act quickly."

Katja paces about the cabin for several minutes.

Katja: "What about your military contacts? Do you have any favors that you can call in?" 

Q: Does she [50/50]? no (just barely).
Nina: "I suppose. But I'm not supposed to be here. And I'm not sure how I'd call in my favors from here."

Katja: "I don't understand you. I thought were a powerful state official. You have connections that kept you safe when they hunted down your mother's former associates."

Q: Does Nina admit that her power is slipping [50/50]? Yes
Nina: "Why do you think I desperately stole you from your cell? My leverage is drying up. My power is failing. I was in danger of being sent to Siberia myself. When I discovered you in your cell, I saw my chance to correct the situation. But it's all falling apart. If Igor talks, they'll send soldiers on board the ship and we'll be discovered."

Katja: "Well, we can't let that happen. We must act. Come with me. We need to leave the ship and get closer to Igor."

Nina: "And how do you propose we do that?"

Katja: "I'm making this up as I go. But I had enchanted most of the witnesses that saw us onto the ship. The effects will have worn off, but we should not be recognize if we disguise ourselves as crew or dock-workers."

********************

CHARACTERS - No change

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Deliver antique sword to the target of Nina's hunt
* Investigate the Moon Goddess Cult in New Zealand
* Rescue Igor

Updated Chaos Factor 7

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Moon Goddess: Scene 15

Introduction to this thread: The Moon Goddess Is A Harsh Mistress
Explanation of 
Mythic elements: What's All This Mythic Stuff?
Previous Scene: Scene 14


 SCENE 15
Wherein Ivan shows up at Nina's apartment with the cursed sword (making any meeting with Mororov conclusively unnecessary).

CHARACTERS
The Silver Huntress (her deity)
Soldiers/Police
Drachen (her old warhorse)
Nina
Nina's Mother
Nina's Father
The Hard Man with the Nasty Scar
Susi
Yuliya
Igor
Deidre
Nina's uncle Ulrich
The target of Nina's hunt
Hamid
Efim Mororov
Professor Nasir
The Commissar
Fanquin Lanfeng
The girls from New Zealand

THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Deliver antique sword to the target of Nina's hunt
* Investigate the Moon Goddess Cult in New Zealand

CHAOS FACTOR: 5

********************
Interrupted Scene! 


[NPC Positive (Igor), Kill Business]
Katja wakes. Immediately she is conscious of voices speaking Russian in Nina's kitchen. One voice is certainly Nina's. The others is more unfamiliar.
Q: Is the bedroom door locked from the outside [50/50]? No (it was either never locked or Nina unlocked it this morning).
Dressed in a nightshirt, Katja pads down the hall and peaks into the kitchen. She sees Nina having an intense discussion with Ivan.
Q: Is the cursed sword on the kitchen table [50/50]? No.
Katja: "What's going on?"
Q: Does Nina tell Katja that Igor found Mororov's dead body in the early morning [50/50]? Extreme yes.
Nina: "Igor tells me that he found Comrade Mororov's dead body in alley behind his shop early this morning. Igor thinks he was poisoned. No matter, he was able to retrieve the sword. We should count our blessings, this makes everything easier."

Katja: "He wasn't poisoned. It was the sword. And what was Igor doing at Herr Mororov's residence in the middle of the night?"
Q: Does Nina answer Katja's question [50/50]? Yes
Q: Was Igor spying on Mororov [50/50]? Yes
Nina: "When Igor arrived in the city last night, I had him observe Mororov's shop from a distance. I didn't want other interested parties to get to the sword before we did."
Q: Did Igor hear the rear-door of the shop open [50/50]? No.
Q: Was he clued in by a a ray of moonlight, like in Katja's dream [50/50]? Yes.
Igor says something in Russian while looking at Katja.

Nina: "He says he saw a silverly light shine upon the store, brighter than the ambient moonlight. When he followed the light, he found Mororov's body. He says it looked like he was poisoned."

Eyes-wide, Katja says, "Like I said, he wasn't poisoned. It was the sword. Ask Igor if he checked the blade for blood, or Mororov's right hand for wound rot. By the Goddess, I was there! I saw what Igor saw."

Nina: "What... ok."

Nina asks Igor something in Russian.
Q: Does he act suprised (and possibly frightened) at Katja's vision [50/50]? Extreme no.
Igor looks at Katja with (what seem to her) knowing eyes. Yes, he understands!

Katja: "Ask him about papers written in... I'm not sure what you call the language but they talked about a Moon Goddess Cult in the land of New Zealand. There was a picture of some young women. Please, ask him."

Nina translates, and Igor responds.
Q: Does Nina say that Igor saw they papers [50/50]? Yes.
Nina: "He says he saw English-language papers with a photo of young witches. Why?"

Katja: "They are important, I'm certain of it. We must go to New Zealand!'

Nina: "We must go to Australia. We have the sword. I'm not deviating from the plan to investigate Moon Cults. That is just like something my mother would do. No."
Q: Does Igor enquire as to the nature of the conversation [50/50]? Yes.
Igor asks Nina something as she answers. They have a short argument.
Q: Does Nina offer to stop in New Zealand after Australia [50/50]? No.
Katja: "What was that about?"


Nina: "Nothing."

There is an uncomfortable pause in the conversation.

Katja: "Now what?"

Q: Do they board a ship to Australia within the day [50/50]? Extreme yes.
Nina: "We are going to Australia as soon as possible. Now that we have the sword, I see no reason to delay. I would like to be out of the country as soon as possible, just in case somebody suspects my involvement in your escape. There is a ship leaving for England this afternoon. We will be able to arrange transport to Australia from there."

Nina: "Igor will watch you for a few hours while I arrange things."

********************

CHARACTERS - Mororov is removed from the list (yep, he's dead).

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Deliver antique sword to the target of Nina's hunt
* Investigate the Moon Goddess Cult in New Zealand

Updated Chaos Factor 6

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Moon Goddess: Scene 14

Introduction to this thread: The Moon Goddess Is A Harsh Mistress
Explanation of 
Mythic elements: What's All This Mythic Stuff?
Previous Scene: Scene 13

SCENE 14
Wherein the Silver Huntress delivers a message of justice achieved.

CHARACTERS
The Silver Huntress (her deity)
Soldiers/Police
Drachen (her old warhorse)
Nina
Nina's Mother
Nina's Father
The Hard Man with the Nasty Scar
Susi
Yuliya
Igor
Deidre
Nina's uncle Ulrich
The target of Nina's hunt
Hamid
Efim Mororov
Professor Nasir
The Commissar
Fanquin Lanfeng

THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Deliver antique sword to the target of Nina's hunt

CHAOS FACTOR: 4

********************
Interrupted scene!
NPC Positive (Silver Huntress) - Gratify (from) Illness. As I interpret this,
the cursed sword is rumored to cause illness. Somehow this gratifies the Silver
Huntress. Perhaps the child killed by the sword was one of her chosen. Now, it
punishes her enemies. So she is positively affected by one of her enemies
getting sick (from the sword). The logical choice is Efim Mororov or the
Commissar (randomly choose Mororov).

How this become an interrupted scene is not obvious. I think anything that
involves the Silver Huntress usually will come in through a dream. So Katja is
asleep when she dreams of the Silver Huntress.


Q: Is Katja sleeping in Nina's town house [Likely]? Extreme yes (she in Nina's bedroom).
Q: In Ktaja's dream, does she find herself in the clearing with the menhir under a full moon [Very likely]? No.
Q: Is she in a snow-covered, empty street outside Mororov's shop and residence [Likely]? Yes, and RANDOM EVENT [PC Negative - Delay Investment. Interpreted as not actually manifesting or speaking directly to Katja just yet.]
Katja dreams.

A full moon shining down upon the glistening snow conveys a message to Katja that the Goddess is with her on this evening. Looking around her, however, she finds herself in an alien land of stone buildings and abandoned streets. Accustomed to primeval forest in dreams like these, Katja is momentarily taken aback. Though she feels the power of the Goddess, there is little sign of her. There are no words. Just a single shaft of moonlight illuminating a store-front across the street.
Q: Is the true nature of Mororov's shop concealed behind something mundane [Likely]? Yes (let's say a book seller).
Instinctively, she follows the light to a door. Naturally, it opens easily. Inside, she finds a musty shop that is crowded with books. It is too dark to read the titles, as the silver moonbeam only illuminates another door in the rear of the shop. That door also opens to her touch.
Q: Is Mororov here [Likely]? Extreme no. Odd... but I can work with it.
Q: Is the sword in sight [Likely]? Yes, and RANDOM EVENT [Move away from thread (Solve the mystery of Nina's mother - Passion trials)]
CQ: What is the clue [wikipedia]? Citylink Wellington (interpreted as news clippings from New Zealand that hint at the rise of Silver Huntress cult).
The room beyond is crowded with painting, crates, statuary, and medieval weaponry. Upon the desk is an exquisite cavalry saber, its blade shining in the moonlight. A few drops of blood near its gold and ivory hilt drip onto some very unusual looking scrolls.

Katja approaches and realizes that the scrolls are really just sheets of flimsy paper with impossibly regular writing and black-and-white images of young girls with painted faces. The girls carry spears and are dressed in light-colored tunics and sandals. The writing is Tempian [Latin], but the language in Pembroke [English]. At least, she thinks it is in Pembroke. In the shifting nature of dreams, she can only catch words or phrases here and there. "New Zealand", "Moon Goddess", "corruption of our youth", "communist". Katja wonders what it all means.

Just then, Katja notices that there is more blood dripping on the desk and floor. The moonbeam follows her gaze and illuninates a subtle path to a rear door. She follows and finds the body of an older man in the snowy alley. His right hand has swollen with gangrene and there is a puddle of vomit next to his head. Katja not only knows him to be dead, but she also knows him to be Efim Mororov. In the light of full moon, somehow Katja knows that the Silver Huntress is glad.

Katja wakes.

********************

CHARACTERS - Mororov is not removed just yet (the dream may be of the future). The girls from New Zealand are added.

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Deliver antique sword to the target of Nina's hunt
* Investigate the Moon Goddess Cult in New Zealand

Updated Chaos Factor 5

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Moon Goddess: Scene 13

Introduction to this thread: The Moon Goddess Is A Harsh Mistress
Explanation of 
Mythic elements: What's All This Mythic Stuff?
Previous Scene: Scene 12

 SCENE 13
In which Nina takes Katja with her to visit a professor to gain information on the sword before going to the antiquities dealer.

CHARACTERS
The Silver Huntress (her deity)
Soldiers/Police
Drachen (her old warhorse)
Nina
Nina's Mother
Nina's Father
The Hard Man with the Nasty Scar
Susi
Yuliya
Igor
Deidre
Nina's uncle Ulrich
The target of Nina's hunt
Hamid
Efim Mororov
Professor Nasir [name from last scene's complex question]

THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Deliver antique sword to the target of Nina's hunt

CHAOS FACTOR: 3

********************
The scene occurs as expected.

The scene opens with Nina and Katja walking into a [Q: Library (50/50)? No. Office (Likely)? No. Classroom then] classroom while the students transition to another class. Professor Nasir is organizing papers and doesn't notice the two of them until they are practically next to him.
Q: Is he startled [Somewhat likely]? Extreme yes.
Q: Does he appear to be startled more by Nina [50/50]? No. Given the strength of his reaction, I'm going to assume he recognizes (or thinks he recognizes) Katja. Therefore, he is likely an associate of Nina's mother.
Q: Does he utter Katja's name when addressing her [50/50]? Extreme yes (they share the same name)!
Professor: "My God, Anna-Katarina!"

Nina (in German, for Katja's benefit): "Don't be a fool, Professor. My Mother was much older even when she died, and that was years ago. As fate would have it, though, this young woman shares my mother's name."

Katja: "Please call me Katja, Professor."

Professor: "How is this possible?"
Q: Does Nina expect the Professor to know anything about magic [Likely]? No, which seems weird. If he associated with her mother, then he likely had come into contact with the supernatural.
Q: Is he a man of Science! [Likely]? No. That means he has to be a more conventional scholar (at least as far as Nina is concerned).
Nina: "Your guess is as good as mine. You know what my mother would say, of course. She would say it was the hand of the Goddess or magic or some other nonsense."

Katja gives her an accusing look. How could she doubt...

Professor: "But she is the spitting image... is this why you are here? To solve some mystery concerning this young woman?"
Q: Is this the case [50/50]? No.
Nina: "Perhaps. But first I need your help with a small matter of State."

The Professor's eyes darken and assumes a more formal posture. "Of course. I'm always happy to do my duty."
Q: Does Nina switch to Russian [50/50]? No, she'll continue in German for Katja's benefit.
Q: Does she expect Nasir to know Mororov [Likely]? Extreme yes.
Q: Does she expect Nasir to have positive reaction toward Mororov [50/50]? No
Nina: "I'll be visiting Comrade Mororov concerning a cavalry sword taken from the Hermitage. Are you familiar with the item?"
Q: Is he [Very likely]? Yes.
Professor: "Cavalry saber that once belonged to Peter the Great, correct?"

Nina: "Yes. Anything special about it?"

Q: Does Professor note that it's being sold with Party sanction to raise money for the State [50/50]? Extreme no.
CQ: Who is selling it [Wikipedia]? Richard Greenbury of Marks and Spencer. I'll interpret it as a Commissar in charge of one of the State Department stores.

Professor: "It's not being sold by the State, if that's what you mean. There are rumors as to who is responsible, of course. Very dangerous to say his name."
Q: Does Nina suspect the same person [50/50]? Extreme no.
Q: Does Nina mention that she's in the NKVD [50/50]? No (but it doesn't rule it out).
Nina: "You may safely tell me who it is, Professor. The State needs to know who is selling off its treasure."

Professor: "Am I really safe? How do I know the information won't be used against me?"

Nina: "You don't."

Katja: "Excuse me. I'm not from here and I'm not a citizen of your country. Seems to me that if you told me, Professor, I could offer some measure of protection. This is important."
Q: Does Nina glare at Katja [50/50]? No.
Q: Does a roll of 3 vs Noble Family cliche succeed in convincing Professor to tell (Very Unlikely)? No.
Professor: "You may resemble the Anna-Katarina that I know, but I do not know you. Forgive me, but trust is a rare and precious commodity in this land."

Nina: "Fine. We'll deal with who is responsible for stealing the sword later. Is there anything else you can tell me about it?"

Q: Does the Professor volunteer anything else [50/50]? Yes.
CQ: What [Brewers]? Pickanin'ny (west indian term for a young child). Clarify with a hit on the Mythic Subject/Action Table: Intolerance Food. Hmmm... Ok, I have an idea.

Professor: "They say the sword is cursed."

Nina: "These things are always cursed."

Professor: "This one seems credible. I've heard stories. Mostly old wives' tales of milk curdling and wine turning to vinegar. They say it's inhabited by the spirit of a child slaughtered by Peter's champion while razing a rebellious village in the Caucasus. The Tsar fell ill shortly after the sword was returned to the castle. He never recovered. The sword wasn't suspected, at first. But then ill-luck continued to plague the Tsar's champion. He finally committed himself to a monastery to repent for his sins. His diary explicitly blames the sword for the Tsar's death, though it remained in the collection of the Tsarina."

Nina: "You believe this?"

Professor: "Does it matter?"

Katja: "Why would someone want to buy a cursed sword?"

Nina: "Why indeed?"
Q: Does the Professor mention anything else [50/50]? No
Q: Doe he mention that he knows who is trying to buy it [50/50]? Yes.
CQ: Who (clarifying the Target) [wikipedia]? List of Earthquakes in Sichuan. Weird. I assume he's Chinese, then. [Everyone Everywhere - Chinese Male]? Fanqin Lanfeng
Professor: "I have no idea. But I hear that Fanquin Lanfeng is interested."
Q: Is Nina surprised (angry) that he knows this [5050]? No.
Q: Does Nina mention that there are others interested [50/50]? No
Nina: "I think we're done."
Q: Does the Professor try to extend the conversation with Katja [50/50]? Yes.
Professor: "Wait. Must you go so soon? Katja, I would love to hear your story. I had great fondness for your namesake."
Q: Does Nina let Katja stay with the Professor alone [unlikely]? No.
Q: Does she agree to stay for lunch [50/50]? No
Nina: "If you were more helpful then we could find time to stay. As it is, we must be going."
Q: Does the professor offer up the name of the Commissar to get them to stay [50/50]? No.
Professor: "Very well. Perhaps we'll meet again soon?"

********************

CHARACTERS - Add the Unknown Commissar and Fanquin Lanfeng (he may or may not be the same person as the "Target").

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Deliver antique sword to the target of Nina's hunt

Updated Chaos Factor 4

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Moon Goddess: Scene 12

Introduction to this thread: The Moon Goddess Is A Harsh Mistress
Explanation of 
Mythic elements: What's All This Mythic Stuff?
Previous Scene: Scene 11


 SCENE 12
Wherein Katja nervously endures her first police/military checkpoint outside of Saint Petersburg/Leningrad.

CHARACTERS
The Silver Huntress (her deity)
Soldiers
Drachen (her old warhorse)
Nina
Nina's Mother
Nina's Father
The Hard Man with the Nasty Scar
Susi
Yuliya
Igor
Deidre
Nina's uncle Ulrich
The target of Nina's hunt
Hamid
Efim Mororov

THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Deliver antique sword to the target of Nina's hunt

CHAOS FACTOR: 3

********************
The scene occurs as expected.

Q: Has it been more than one day since Katja's hunt [50/50]? Extreme No.
Q: Did Katja have hunting dreams [Likely]? No. He real hunt was probably sufficient.
Rising early in the cold winter's morning, Katja helps herself to leftover bear stew for breakfast. She slept soundly and dreamlessly (but not in a bad way... her moon-hunt was more than enough excitement last night). In fact, Katja is in a very good mood. She is looking forward to seeing the city of Saint Petersburg. An urban environment should tell her much more about the world that she now finds herself in.

It doesn't take long for Nina and Igor to join her for breakfast. They eat quickly and proceed to load up the car.
Q: Does Katja see anybody else in the house [50/50]? No.
Q: Are the horses still in the stable [Somewhat likely]? Yes.
Katja stops by the stable to thank the white horse one last time. She eyes the crossbow. A fine weapon, she thinks to herself. Too bad Nina would never let me bring it. Or would she?

Katja emerges from the stables and asks.
Q: Does Nina let Katja bring the crossbow [Unlikely]? No
Nina: "Don't be absurd. Weapons are not permitted in the city. Let me clarify, primitive weapons are not allowed in the city. Soldiers and police officers may carry firearms."
Q: Does Nina give Katja a gun [Unlikely]? Extreme no.
Katja: "I'm dressed as a soldier..."

Nina: "No!"
Q: Does Igor accompany them to Saint Petersburg [Likely]? No.
Q: Does Igor have much to say to Nina [50/50]? Extreme No.
Nina then says something to Igor in Russian and Igor merely nods and returns to the house.

Nina: "Come along Katja, it's just us two now."

Katja: "And Igor?"

Nina: "He may catch up with us later. For now, he has other matters he must attend."

It is only a matter of hours before Katja sees signs of the approaching city. The forest gives way to farmlands and scattered villages. Despite the presence of more automobiles, Katja cannot help but get the sense that this is a poor land. And very drab. Her hopes for the city start to diminish.

Suddenly, Nina says: "Checkpoint ahead. Pretend you are asleep or sick or something. Curl up the blanket and do not show your face. Whatever you do, do not speak."

The automobile slows as Katja does what Nina asks.
Q: Are they allowed to pass the checkpoint with a minimum of fuss [Likely (given Nina's military uniform command experience)] ? Extreme yes.
Katja tenses up, expecting a confrontation. But Nina doesn't even speak. Apparently, they just waved her right through.

A few minutes later: "You may get up now. It's all over."

Katja: "That was easier than I expected."

Nina: "Soldiers are trained not to question superior officers. These soldiers were well trained."

Katja: "Now what? Do we visit the antiquities dealer?" [Q (50/50)? No]

Nina: "Not yet. Remember that I am already supposed to be in Saint Petersburg. I need to make an appearance to strengthen my alibi."
CQ: Where does Nina go to make an appearance [Wikipedia]? Ahmed ibn Nasir (sufi poet and teacher). I'll interpret this as a professor.
Q: Does Nina teach (in addition to her to other duties) [50/50]? No
Q: Does she perform research [Likely]? No. Hmm, I'll assume she is at least associated with a professor. Unless...
Q: Does Nina hope to board Katja in a dormitory while she performs other duties [5050]? No. Ok, an associate it is.
(we move on to the next scene and the meeting with the professor)

********************

CHARACTERS - Add the Professor

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Deliver antique sword to the target of Nina's hunt

Updated Chaos Factor 3 (the minimum)

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Moon Goddess: Scene 11

Introduction to this thread: The Moon Goddess Is A Harsh Mistress
Explanation of
Mythic elements: What's All This Mythic Stuff?
Previous Scene: Scene 10


SCENE 11
Wherein Katja will be given a horse, crossbow, and spear for a late afternoon hunt; a ritual follows under the full moon.

CHARACTERS
The Silver Huntress (her deity)
Soldiers
Drachen (her old warhorse)
Nina
Nina's Mother
Nina's Father
The Hard Man with the Nasty Scar
Susi
Yuliya
Igor
Deidre
Nina's uncle Ulrich
The target of Nina's hunt
Hamid
Efim Mororov

THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Deliver antique sword to the target of Nina's hunt

CHAOS FACTOR: 4

********************

The scene occurs as expected.

About an hour before sunset, Igor parks the car in front of another dacha. Like the previous one, this dacha has an attached stable.

Nina: "We're later than I expected. I hope you will still have time to perform your hunt."

Katja: "I think so. I'll need to get started right away."

Nina: "Come with me and I'll get you equipped."

While Igor moves transfers supplies to another vehicle, Nina leads Katja into the stable. Someone has obviously been here recently as the stable is warm and the horses (there are two) are munching on oats.
Q: The previous scene indicated that Nina would give Katja everything she needed for the hunt. One assumes that this would mean a horse, a modern crossbow (and bolts), and possibly spear/light lance. Is this correct [Very likely]? Yes.
Nina shows Katja the horses and says, "You are free to take either one. The brown one is faster, while the white is more adept at navigating the snow. Just remember that even though we are giving you a horse and a weapon you have no place to go. You are in the middle of the Russian wilderness. You have no friends and you do not speak the language. I hope you will do the smart thing and return to us after a successful hunt."

Katja nods dismissively. "Of course I'm going to return. Thoughts of flight crossed my mind, but it seems to me that the only way for me to do the will of the Goddess is to remain close to you. Your mother and I share some kind of connection. I need to find out what that means, precisely."

Nina: "Good. I'd give you a rifle but I suspect that you wouldn't know what to do with it if I did. I do have a hunting crossbow that's in pretty good shape. It even has a rifle scope on it... here. Look through it to help you aim. He's a quiver of a dozen broadheads. Would you like a hunting spear?"

Katja: "Yes, I think that will do nicely."

Nina: "Good. I'm going to eat something. Igor tells me that larder should be better stocked this time. If you bring back meat then we can cook it up later."

With that, Nina leaves Katja alone. Katja picks up the crossbow and marvels at the design. Back on her own world, she had an exquisite light crossbow that was enchanted for range and accuracy. From the look of it, this crossbow is at least its equal, especially when you considered the "scope". The spear is serviceable, if a little long for her small size. Alone, with weapons and her choice of mounts, Katja feels free. She could run if she wanted to. But where? Nina is right. She has nowhere to go. And she still isn't certain if Nina is working for or against the will of her goddess. She has to stick things out a little longer.

Then there is the language issue. Recalling her initial meeting with the members of Outsider's Aegis [see below], Katja shudders at the thought of having to learn a new language in a hurry. But there seems to be little choice. Tomorrow, she would begin asking Nina for language lessons.

Katja selects the white horse. Pure speed would do her little good in tonight's hunt. She needed white camouflage and sure feet. After securing the horse's saddle, Katja leads it outside, mounts up, and heads down a small path into the forest.
Q (Risus): I'm going to say the TN for finding game will be 7 (halfway between cinch and challenge for a professional of a perfectly applicable cliche). Katja rolls 11 vs. Mistress of the Hunt so she succeeds.

Q: Is it a simple TN roll to conclude the hunt [50/50]? Extreme No. That means that it will be a full Risus combat.
Q: Is the foe better than cliche 3 [Unlikely]? No.
Q: Is the animal a cunning stag that will lead Katja on a dangerous chase through the forest [50/50]? Extreme no. I'm going to say that it is a Half-Starved Bear (3).
Katja follows a trail to clearing and is surprised to come across a large brown bear with a crazed look in its eyes. What it is doing awake when it should be hibernating, Katja can't even guess. She quickly fires her crossbow at the animal and maneuvers the horse to keep her distance. The bear attempts to charge into melee range.

Katja rolls 15 on Mistress of the Hunt. The Bear rolls 12 and takes a crossbow bolt in its haunch. It does press in to melee range, however. It leaps at Katja in an effort to pull her down from the horse. Without time to reload the crossbow, Katja tries to steady the horse and stabs it with a spear.

Katja suffers a penalty for not having proper tools (the horse is not trained for battle and the spear is too heavy). She rolls 4 on two dice, which ties the Bear's roll on its damage-reduced cliche roll. The bear fails to knock Katja off her horse, but Katja fails to inflict any more damage on the Bear.

Wheeling the horse back away from the bear, Katja tries another tactic. She utters a prayer to the Silver Huntress and attempts to conjure a Moon Blade (a scimitar of radiant moonlight). If successful, she'll hack at the Bear as it closes again.

Katja rolls 15 to the bear's 4. Using the optional rules for critical hits [see below], her tactic is wildly successful. She neatly severs one of the bears claws and opens a mortal wound accross its chest. It collapses in a heap and Katja keeps her distance while it dies.

Under the light of the full moon, Katja dismounts and offers up the heart of the bear to the Silver Huntress. Unable to lift the huge animal, she creates a makeshift sledge and drags the carcass back to the dascha.
Q: Does she find Igor smoking a cigarette on the porch, waiting for her [50/50]? Extreme no.
Igor and Nina are in the house, unfazed that Katja has brought down such a huge beast. Wordlessly, Igor does take over for Katja and carries the animal off for butchering. Katja, however, keeps the severed claw as a memento of her first hunt since her release from prison.

********************

CHARACTERS - No update

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Deliver antique sword to the target of Nina's hunt

Updated Chaos Factor 3

********************

BACKSTORY NOTES: When Katja fled her her homeland, she spoke the local equivalent of German, English, and Latin. The language of region she began her adventuring career in was pseudo-Celtic. As a result, she spent several adventures having to speak through translators (usually her fellow adventurers in the Outsiders Aegis).

RISUS HOUSE RULE (Critical Hits): For this game I will use a house rule that allows critical hits in combat if the margin of success is 10 or greater. If a critical hit is achieved, 1d6 dice of damage is applied (rather than a single die).

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Buffy On The Brain

My Game Master Brain is currently focused on writing the Slaying Solomon season (six) premier. We use Eden's BtVS:RPG, so not a lot of Risus relevance here... except...

I should mention that even when running something as simple as the Unisystem, Risus can be a handy GM tool. I've discussed this at length for D20, but it also applies to Buffy. A fully-functional Risus character can be described in just a few short words. This beats even the extreme shorthand that Eden proposed for their NPCs in BtVS:RPG. I don't always use Risus in this way, but occasionally it does come up. I guess it's because I naturally think in terms of the Risus-scale. For Buffy, I still need to keep tabs in the book (even after years and years of running it... go figure).

So how would I use a Risus character in Buffy? Let's take an hypothetical example:
Ada Godfrey: The Coolest Watcher You Ever Met (4), Coffee Shop Concert Promoter (3)
In game, this is all that I typically need. If I need to make a roll for Ada, I can easily translate the Risus dice to an attribute or skill. Assuming a perfectly applicable cliche, the total bonus to the skill roll* is equal to double the cliche dice. Tangentially-related cliches get knocked down 1 or more dice before conversion, while cliches that actually call out or strongly imply noteworthy attributes get small bump instead.

Thus, if Ada had to make a double Will roll, I'd translate that to a +10 on the fly (2x4 + 2 because strong mental attributes are strongly implied). A research roll would be similar (not counting for occult library bonuses). For shooting a crossbow, she gets a straight 8 (double her cliche dice).

The advantage to this system is that it goes beyond the Muscle/Combat/Knowledge of the BtVS:RPG shorthand. You can use it like a Risus cliche to make rolls to book a new rock band at her coffee shop (2xConcert Promoter=+6) or to charm an impressionable young student with her coolness (2xWatcher=+8).

There are a few more stats that come up if the NPC gets into combat. For Life Points, I use 10 times the most appropriate cliche (+/-10 as needed). The number of Actions and Initiative are figured by converting the most appropriate cliche directly to Dexterity. For Ada, that means I'd probably give her 40 Life Points and base her Initiative and number of Actions on a DEX of 4. If she were less physically competent, I'd use 30 LP and a DEX of 3 instead.

* Game Master in Buffy are encouraged to not even bother rolling for minor NPCs. An average roll of 6 is assumed. The above formula does not add this number because I often like to roll for my NPCs.

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Moon Goddess: Scene 10

Introduction to this thread: The Moon Goddess Is A Harsh Mistress
Explanation of
Mythic elements: What's All This Mythic Stuff?
Previous Scene: Scene 9


SCENE 10
Wherein Katja, Nina, and Igor depart the dacha via automobile and travel for hours through snow-covered forest.

CHARACTERS
The Silver Huntress (her deity)
Soldiers
Drachen (her old warhorse)
Nina
Nina's Mother
Nina's Father
The Hard Man with the Nasty Scar
Susi
Yuliya
Igor
Deidre
Nina's uncle Ulrich
The target of Nina's hunt

THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Nina's hunt

CHAOS FACTOR: 5

********************

The scene occurs as expected.
Q: Does the uniform fit well [Unlikely]? No.
Katja emerges from Nina's dacha wearing (what is described to her as) a Red Army officer's uniform. Unlike the clothes she wore the previous day, this outfit obviously didn't belong to Nina's mother. It was hastily tailored to fit her and clearly was meant for a larger woman (at least it was a woman). Katja suspects it might even belong to Nina herself.

The uniform consists of a brown uniform under white camouflage winter gear. A fur hat (again, different than the one she wore last night) completes the outfit.

Susi also cut Katja's hair into something like a bob of Nina's length. Though it is shorter than she usually wears it, it does feel less cumbersome than the hair she had been unable to cut for two years.
Q: Is the weather clear and cold again [Somewhat likely]? Yes
To Susi (as they emerge into the cold sun), "What is this supposed to achieve? I feel like I'm swimming in these clothes."

Susi: "Best to be inconspicuous, dear. This may throw loff suspicion if you are stopped."

Katja: "I feel even more conspicuous."

(From the car she is loading) Nina: "We will be stopped. Count on it. At least now you don't look like a member of the deposed aristocracy. Now you just have to keep your mouth shut. Last thing we need is you speaking German at a checkpoint."
Q: Does Igor look like Ron Perlman [50/50]? Yes.
Q: Is he wearing a Red Army uniform [Likely]? No. He's likely in clothes of a common laborer.
Q: Does he appear warm and friendly to Katja [Unlikely]? No, nor does he seem particularly cold.
Katja watches as Nina loads the car with Igor. Igor is large man, with rough features and cropped red hair. Unlike Nina, he is not wearing a uniform (which Katja finds strange). Katja smiles at him, but he does not return the gesture.

Katja: Is there anything I can do to help?
Q: Yes [Unlikely]? No
Nina: "Just stay out of the way."

The car is soon loaded and Nina climbs into the backseat with Katja and Igor drives. All the time, he says very little (all of it in what Katja presumes to be Russian). They drive away from the dacha and Katja once again marvels at the snowy beauty of the Russian landscape. The land is so empty. She imagines herself in wolf form, running through these forests.
Q: Is the day uneventful [Somewhat Likely]? No. Hmm.
Q: Are they stopped at a checkpoint [50/50]? No. Something else happens.
CQ: What happens [I'm forcing an roll on the event table]? Move toward thread (Nina's hunt), Ruin Information.
CQ: Clarify [Wikipedia]? "Afghans in Britain"
Midway through the day, Igor turns into a snowy side-road. After 15 minutes of driving, he pulls up to a small cabin. There is smoke coming out of the chimney.

Katja: "What is this?"
Q: Do they answer her [50/50]? Yes.
Nina: "An associate of mine lives here. Comrade Hamid. He fought the imperialists in Central Asia and he came here to support our glorious revolution. He fell out of favor and now resides here. Despite his isolation, he's an excellent information broker."
Q: Is there a radio tower [50/50]? Yes.
Katja notices a strange tower next to the cottage. It is too tall and spindly to be a sentry tower. She asks Nina about it.

Nina: "Thanks for reminding me that you come from a more primitive society. It's called a radio tower. It helps Hamid pick messages out of the air."
Q: Does Nina go in by herself [50/50]? Yes.
Nina: "Wait here."
Note: Presumably, Nina gets information that puts her closer to finding her target.
Outside, Katja tries to strike up a conversation with Igor.

Katja: "What's your role in all this? Do you work for the government? Did you know her mother?"
Q: Does Igor answer [50/50]? Extreme no (he doesn't even speak German).
Q: Does Nina emerge soon [Likely]? Yes.
Q: Does Nina appear to shoot Hamid ("ruin of information" and all that) [50/50]? No (maybe she stabs him with a sword and cleans the blade inside...or maybe not).
It doesn't take Nina long to emerge from cottage. She appears satisfied and walks with purpose.

Nina: "That was very helpful."

Katja: "And?"
Q: Does she provide any more information [50/50]? Extreme yes.
Q: Did Hamid help arrange transport to Australia [50/50]? No.
Q: Did Hamid provide current information about the target's contacts in Saint Petersburg [Likely]? Yes
CQ: Who are these contacts [Mythic Event Table]? Inspect Riches (an antiquities dealer).
Nina: "Our target is purchasing an object from [Everyone Everywhere - Russian] Efim Mororov, an antiquities dealer in Saint Petersburg who is making a tidy profit selling ill-gotten artifacts for corrupt Party officials. You will deliver one of these objects to the target."

Katja: "Why me? Seems like you could have any old person do this for you. Where do my special talents come in?"
Q: Does the object require special handling (such that only Katja can do it) [50/50]? No (the other logical interpretation is that it is the only way to get Katja close to the target... the artifact may be incidental).
Nina: "They will come in later. The artifact is incidental and only serves as a means of getting you close to the target."

Katja: "What's the artifact?"
CQ: What is it [Instant Game]? Castle (which I interpret as a portable object obtained from a castle... a sword is a good choice).
Q: Cavalry sword [50/50]? Yes.
Nina: "It's a cavalry sword. I don't know all the details yet, but apparently it is an exquisite specimen from the era of Peter the Great. I'm not sure why the target wants it, but he does. Very badly."

Katja: "When are you going to tell me who this target is?"

Nina: "When we have arrived in Australia."

Katja: "At some point, you're going to have to trust me. The sooner you do it, the better it will be for all of us."

Nina: "We'll see."

The car continues for some time.

Katja: "It's going to be a full moon tonight. I will need to hunt. It's part of my compact with my Goddess. If you want me to be able to channel her power, I'll need to honor that compact."

Nina: "We'll be stopping at a hunting lodge soon. One would assume that it is good place to go hunting."

Katja: "And you'll provide me with a weapon?"
Q: Will she [Somewhat Likely]? Extreme yes.
Nina: "You will whatever you need."

********************

CHARACTERS - Add Comrade Hamid and Efim Mororov.

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Deliver antique sword to the target of Nina's hunt

Updated Chaos Factor 4

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Beating the Risus Death Spiral

The Risus Death Spiral is the colloquial term for the phenomena of straight-up cliche vs. cliche fights going down hill rapidly for the loser of the first round. It comes from the fact that (according to the standard rules), even a one die difference in cliches is severe and a two-dice difference is crushing. Losing the first round means you are on your way down unless you already had some kind of advantage.
So if this Death Spiral exists, why does Risus remain such a kick-ass game? Simply because the Death Spiral is relatively easy to beat. GMs and players have various tools in their arsenal to keep combat fun and exciting:
Switching Cliches: For players, this is the obvious choice. Either switch to an Inappropriate Cliche or another type of cliche that is appropriate for this type of combat. When building characters, it usually a good idea to keep this in mind. It's good to have a backup cliche. Of course, If you are fighting a Scary Monster (4) and your backup is only Know-It-All Martial Arts Instructor (3), well it still doesn't leave you in a good place. That's where Pumping comes in. Pumping cliches to stay in a fight is typically a losing proposition... unless you are pumping your secondary cliches.
For the GM, all this applies as well. It's all well-and-good to have a Scary Monster (4) fighting your party. But even ignoring teams, it still won't be much of a fight if the monster loses the first round. That's where secondary cliches can be useful for monsters. Obviously, not all monsters should have secondary cliches. But definitely consider their use for foes that are supposed to put up a good fight.
Lucky Shots: Lucky Shots are an optional rule from the Risus Companion (which I am obligated to say is not required to enjoy Risus). Put simply, this option allows the character to trade dice during character creation for a certain number of bonus-dice that can only be used once per session. They can't be used to absorb damage like cliches, but used defensively, they can be a great way to keep you in a fight even after you have started taking damage.
Deadly Combat: Another option from the Companion, this one changes the basic combat mechanic from comparing the highest total roll to comparing the highest single roll. Using this option greatly softens the difference between cliche levels and keep combat exciting longer.
Dynamic Combats: This tip is for Game Masters. Instead of loading up every foe with secondary or even tertiary cliches, why not simply call for reinforcements? The players characters might have that Cranky Fire Breathing Dragon (6) on the ropes but that doesn't mean that Hordes of Kobold Minions (5) can't show up turn the tables on the pesky heroes.
Similarly, there is always magic. Seriously. Magic and healing is a way for player characters (and non-player characters as well) to regain advantage even after a they have entered the Death Spiral. A Guilt-Ridden Sorcerer [3] can always summon a demonic grunt squad while a Lily-white Cleric Of All That Is Good (3) can heal and buff battered characters back into the fight.

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Moon Goddess: Scene 9

Introduction to this thread: The Moon Goddess Is A Harsh Mistress
Explanation of
Mythic elements: What's All This Mythic Stuff?
Previous Scene: Scene 8

SCENE 9
Wherein Katja and Nina get down to business in Nina's study.

CHARACTERS
The Silver Huntress (her deity)
Soldiers
Drachen (her old warhorse)
Nina
Nina's Mother
Nina's Father
The Hard Man with the Nasty Scar
Susi
Yuliya
Igor
Deidre

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir

CHAOS FACTOR: 4

********************
The scene occurs as expected.
Q: Is Katja dressed in the same clothes as last night [50/50]? Yes.
Q: Did they cut Katja's hair [Unlikely]? No.
Q: Did Igor (or someone else) bring in more food for breakfast [Likely]? No (breakfast was meager).
Q: Did Katja dream [50/50]? Yes.
Q: Same dream as last night [Unlikely]? No (assume something standard)
Katja is in Nina's study. She slept well, dreaming one of her old hunting dreams (but not the prophetic kind). Breakfast was meager, however (tea and stale bread). She is hungry and thinking of her dreams kindles a strong desire to go hunting.

But Nina wants to get down to business.
Q: Does Nina lead off with an interview of Katja's capabilities [Likely]? No.
CQ: What does she talk about [Une = NPC Focus]? Knowledge (I'm guessing that she starts at the beginning.

MONTAGE SEQUENCE: Nina gets Katja to recount her history up until her imprisonment. In play, I skipped over this part since I already knew it all. Everybody else will only have vague notions. I'll post the short version and will fill in details later as they become important.

First, Katja describes an almost idyllic early life on her family estate. She was daddy's little girl and he doted on her. She also had a secret place (the standing stone on her estate) and secret dreams. Other than her mother pestering her to prepare for marriage, things were great. Then her brother came home. As children, they were never close. But as an adult, there was something sinister about him. And then her father died and things went to hell, culminating in that night when she discovered Ulrich assaulting her best friend.

She fled during a fierce thunderstorm and managed to find the protection of an Elf Ranger named Morandil. Morandil was a member of an organization that shepherded people in trouble to safety. He escorted her accorss many miles of wilderness to avoid her brother's agents, all the while teaching Katja his woodland craft. Of course, Katja fell in love with him, but it was unrequieted. Morandil loved another and their relationship settled into cool friendhsip.

Morandil delivered her, almost penniless, to the town of Harcomb. That is where she met Bix the bard. Bix was able to get Katja to open up about her dreams and he offered to take her to a mystic clearing that resembled one of her descriptions. That night, they encountered four other adventurers while battling wolves in the darkness. The six adventuers became the Outsiders Aegis and had many, many more adventures (which I will not detail here). Eventually (within a
few months), Katja was celled to become a cleric of the Silver Huntress.

Q: Is there anything that particularly interests Nina [50/50]? Yes.
CQ: What [Une = NPC Focus]? Assume family. Interesting.
As Katja recounts her story to Nina, she notes that Nina is particularly interested in her family details. Nina is very hard to read, so she can't be sure why she is interested in Katja's family life. Could it be a family similarity? Or did her brother's agents reach into this world? She shudders at the thought. She decides to ask.

Katja: "You seem particularly interested in my family. Why?"
Q: Does Nina relate Katja's background to her own family [50/50]? Yes.
Q: Does claim to have had a sinister older brother [Unlikely]? No.
Q: Did Nina's mother have a sinister older brother [Likely]? Yes.
Q: Is Nina's uncle named Ulrich [50/50]? Yes.
Nina: "Your family history strongly resembles that of my mother. I too have an uncle Ulrich and he is every bit the bastard that you describe your brother to be. There was some kind of incident when my mother was about your age. She fled to Russia and met my father around that time."
Q: Does Nina mention that Ulrich is a nazi [50/50]? No (but it doesn't rule out the possibility).
Katja: "Can I see a picture of your mother?"
Q: Can she [Likely]? Extreme no.
Nina: (shaking her head and displays a rare flash of emotion) "No, my mother no longer exists. [Q: The Party (50/50)? Yes] The Party went to great pains to ensure that her memory was forgotten."
Q: Does she mention that her father was executed [Unlikely]? No.
Q: Does she mention that her father suffered [Likely]? Yes.
Nina: "It practically killed my father. It may have for all I know. With all my connections in the State's security apparatus, I can't find out what they did with him. I hope that he was sent to Siberia, but..."

Katja: "That's horrible! Why was your mother such a threat?"
Q: Is it because of the religious cult that she started [Somewhat Likely]? No.
Q: Is it because of her crusade against evil [Likely]? Yes.
Nina: "My mother was terribly naive. She couldn't abide the moral complexity of the modern world. If she saw injustice that she felt compelled to act. We we lucky if she only spoke up about it. Usually, she took more direct action. It made her hero to the Common People before the Revolution. It's why the Czar had her put away."

Katja: "But after her death..."

Nina: "She ceased to be useful to the Party. I doubt they really found her all that useful to begin with. She was unpredictable and her passions incited the primitive superstitions that [Q: we (50/50)?No] they abhorred. So my mother was gone. But her followers continued in her name. When the Party had to take certain actions to ensure the security of the State, my mother's followers fought them. They were crushed of course, and the Party went to great lengths to
make sure my mother never even existed."

Katja: "But what about you?"
Q: Nina says it is due to her Service to the State [Unlikely]? No.
Nina: "I had been estranged from my mother for some time. And I was already accumulating the leverage that I needed to protect myself. Most people in the government didn't even know who my mother was. I was safe, for many years."
NOTE: Nina's mother would have died in about 1917. Nina would have have been
about 18-20 at the time. That means that the current year is likely 1932-1938.
Katja: "You mother, could she perform miracles?"
Q: Could she [Likely]? Yes.
Q: Were her miracles subtle [Likely]? Yes.
Nina: "In a word, yes. Much like you, she was called to an older faith at an early age. She claimed that she would dream of the future. She knew when people were lying. She had healing hands. Most of all, she avoided the power of the state for about 20 years. That's the most significant miracle of all."

Katja: "I'm so sorry, Nina. I misjudged you. I thought you were going to use me as a tool to secure your own power base. Now I see..."
Q: Does Nina soften [50/50]? No
Nina: "Don't jump to any conclusions. I was estranged from my mother for a reason. Just because you have an uncanny similarity to her doesn't mean that I won't use you to the best of my ability. My mother could never do half of the things that you described in your adventures. If you are as powerful as I think you are, then you will be very useful indeed."

Katja: "But.... I don't understand you at all!"

Nina: "That's because your as naive as my mother. The world is complicated, Katja. If you fail to realize that then this world will kill you. Just like my mother."

Katja exhales slowly and sinks back into her chair. This women is an enigma wrapped in a mystery.

Katja: "Fine. What would you have me do? I'm obviously under your power."
CQ: What to do first [Brewers]? Per'cinet (fairy prince who thwarts the malicious designs of Grognon, the cruel step-mother of Gracio'sa). I might interpret this to mean that it is the fairy prince that Nina is looking for (whether or not Nina is the cruel step-mother remains to be seen).
CQ: Additional inspiration [Wikipedia]? HMAS Perth (hunt is in Australia?).
Nina: "You worship a goddess of the hunt. You claim to be a great hunter yourself. You are going to help me hunt someone down. "

Katja: "I'm not an assassin."

Nina: (laughs) "That's obvious. But I'm certain that you'll be able to help me in this small task. If you prove useful, we'll move onto bigger and better things."

Katja bites her lip. She doesn't like where this is going.
Q: Will they be leaving for Australia today [50/50]? No.
Katja: "Last night you said that you had transcribed the writing on the menhir. Did you translate any of it?"
Q: Did she [Very likely]? Yes.
Nina: "Of course."

Katja: "What does it say?"
Q: Will Nina reveal it now [50/50]?
Nina: "I'll share what I know after you help me on this task."

Katja: "You don't have to be this way. I would have been easy for me to help you willingly."

Nina: "You don't have to like it. In some ways, it's better if you don't"
CQ: What's next (according to Nina) [Event Table]? Expose Ambush (maybe not exactly... I have something in mind, but Katja doesn't know anything yet).
Q: Will Nina leave Katja in the care of others while she takes care of unsaid business [50/50]? No.
Q: Will Nina and Katja leave by horse while her allies stay behind [50/50]? No.
Katja: "So what happens now?"

Nina: "Your extraction was too messy for my tastes. Couldn't be helped, unfortunately. But we'll need to leave soon or we'll have the whole Red Army on our heads."

Katja: "Where will we go?"

Nina: "Saint Petersburg. Igor should have put off our pursuit long enough for us to make it. Technically, that's where I am right now. If I don't get back soon, I will be missed."

Katja: "Who is Igor?"

Nina: "You'll meet him soon enough."
Q: Will Nina have Susi cut Katja's hair and put into her more "appropriate" (military) clothing [50/50]? Extreme yes (they may even give her a weapon).
Nina: "Ah, here's Susi." (To Susi) "I'll need her ready in... 90 minutes. Don't be late. Things are going to get very hot around here soon."

Susi nods and beckons for Katja. Katja looks at Nina, but she has already returned to her work.

Susi: (to Katja) "Come along dear. Let's get you into something more appropriate"

********************

CHARACTERS - Add Nina's uncle Ulrich and the target of her "hunt" (likely in
Australia). I chose not to add Morandil, given then he would be in the other world.

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir
* Nina's hunt

Updated Chaos Factor 5

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Moon Goddess: Scene 8

Introduction to this thread: The Moon Goddess Is A Harsh Mistress
Explanation of
Mythic elements: What's All This Mythic Stuff?
Previous Scene: Scene 7

SCENE 8
Wherein Katja explores her accommodations, considers her situation, and plots her escape.

CHARACTERS
The Silver Huntress (her deity)
Soldiers
Drachen (her old warhorse)
Nina
Nina's Mother
Nina's Father
The Hard Man with the Nasty Scar
Susi
Yuliya
Igor

THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir

CHAOS FACTOR: 3

********************
The scene is altered (I was expecting Katja to be housed in Nina's mother's old room).
Q: Does Nina lock Katja into a spartan guest room [50/50]? Yes.
After tending to the horses, Katja and Nina come in from the cold. Katja almost has vertigo from the emotional high that she's achieved after over two years of living hell. She wants to talk, but Nina is having none of it. "In the morning." is all she says.

Susi takes Katja's coat, boots, and gloves and Nina leads Katja up to her room.

Nina: "This is where you will be staying. Of course, you are still in my custody, so do not be surprised if you cannot open the door until morning. If you need to attend your bodily functions, there is an old chamber pot in the corner. Otherwise, I will wait for you visit the water closet down the hall."
Q: Does Katja find scissors in the washroom [Unlikely]? Extreme no. In fact, there is almost nothing of use in the washroom but a few towels and a toilet (Katja bathed in a different room).
After taking care of business, Katja says, "Good night."

Nina replies, "We'll talk in the morning."

The door closes and Katja hears the turning of a lock. She examines the room.
Q: Is there a Christian cross [50/50]? No (though that doesn't mean much).
Q: Are there any decorations on the all at all [Unlikely]? Extreme No. Nothing. Room is almost completely bare (besides the bed, quilts, and chamber pot). There isn't even a mirror or dresser.
Q: Is there a window [Likely]? No, it's an internal room.
Sarcastically, "Great. Another prison cell. How am I going to get out of this?"

Before she sleeps, she offers another prayer of thanks to the Silver Huntress. She asks for the Goddess to reveal her purpose on this world (if it pleases the Goddess, of course). She then ponders future actions.

Of top priority is escape. At a minimum, she will need warm clothes, a horse, a map, food, and a weapon. But knowing nobody in this world, she doesn't like her chances (especially in the middle of winter). More than anything else, she needs a trusted ally. Her best bet would be to cultivate a positive relationship with Susi (who seems very nice). She also decides to keep her options open with Nina for the time being. Nina is very complicated. Katja doesn't like her and she certainly doesn't trust her. But Nina's mother had some kind of connection to the Silver Huntress (or a similar deity).

Nina's mother might actually be her primary concern. Katja resolves to unravel that mystery even before seriously considering escape.

********************

CHARACTERS - No change.

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir

Updated Chaos Factor 4

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Quasi-Funky Dice

Before I renewed my love affair with Risus, I spent several months in a passionate fling with Risus' younger step-sister, PDQ. I began my flirtation with PDQ because I encountered a situation in Risus that I initially had trouble resolving. At issue was Risus' ability to handle supers and other super-scale characters. Sure, Risus has Funky Dice (and for the Funkyphobic, rescaled Target Numbers from the Risus Companion). But where (I thought) Risus fell down was the intersection of the Funky and the not-so-Funky (i.e. the Super and the Normal).

In Truth & Justice (the supers-themed version of PDQ), there are explicitly two scales of qualities (which look very much like Risus cliches). I saw this and I though "Cool!".

When I started rediscovering Risus, I wondered if I couldn't use something similar. I thought cliches could be either "Normal" or "Super Scale". The two two types of cliches would use different TN scales and Funky Dice would be unnecessary. In a cliche-to-cliche conflict, Supers would get a big boost (perhaps forcing the non-super character to use the "When Somebody Can't Participate" rules).

This sounded great at first but I eventually rejected the idea. First, I couldn't come up with a way to price these super cliches. Second, it didn't seem like all that much of an improvement over Funky Dice. Unlike T&J Powers (as opposed to regular PDQ Qualities), Risus cliches are almost-always a big sack of abilities. In a super cliche, some of these abilities might indeed be super. Other abilities might be rather mundane uses of the cliche that don't operate on the super scale.

Finally, I decided that I really was spending too much time worrying over nothing. The solution, it seemed to me, was that Funky cliches don't have to be entirely Funky. Either a player character can voluntarily nerf aspects of their cliche in certain situations (rolling 3d6 instead of 3d10), or the GM set parameters for what is super and for what it not.

For example, let's take the Funky cliche "Vampire Gunslinger (4d10)". This a perfectly reasonable Risus cliche. In a combat where the character is making the most of their vampire powers, a full application of the Funky Dice is warranted. But does the character get the full 4d10 in a battle of reputations? How about knowledge of firearms? Familiarity with the laws and customs of vampire society? It's up to the Player and the GM to work that out, but certainly it's not all that different from the normal give-and-take that's involved in arbitrating what's covered in a Risus cliche.

I refer you to a quote from the Risus Companion: "When using Funky Dice, the number of dice still indicates expertise, on exactly the same scale as normal Risus. So, a Soldier (3) is just as skilled as a Super-Soldier (3d20)." An expert Vampire Gunslinger (4d10) is an expert at being a Vampire Gunslinger. The d10 part comes from the extra oomph of have Vampire speed, strength, toughness, and senses. But those kewl vampire powers don't always help with certain aspects of being a vampire or with being a gunslinger. For the regular stuff, 4d6 might be more appropriate.

NOTE: There was a thread on this very topic on the RisusTalk yahoo group in 2007. Being in Risus exile, I was oblivious to it at the time.

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Moon Goddess: Scene 7

Introduction to this thread: The Moon Goddess Is A Harsh Mistress
Explanation of
Mythic elements: What's All This Mythic Stuff?
Previous Scene: Scene 6

SCENE 7
Nina and Katja ride to the clearing in the woods (the same clearing that was in Katja's dream). Katja examines the menhir and performs her ritual.

CHARACTERS
The Silver Huntress (her deity)
Soldiers
Drachen (her old warhorse)
Nina
Nina's Mother
Nina's Father
The Hard Man with the Nasty Scar
Susi
Yuliya
Igor

THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Regain the favor of the Silver Huntress
* Demonstrate magic to Nina
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother

CHAOS FACTOR: 4

********************
The scene occurs as expected.

Katja and Nina ride into a large clearing with a single standing stone. Unsurprisingly to Katja, it appears to be the clearing from her dream. Katja dismounts and approaches the menhir. Before touching it, she looks about the clearing. To her relief, she doesn't see any dead bodies or Soviet soldiers. Only Nina and the two horses on the edge of the clearing, watching Katja with
great interest.

Katja examines the menhir more closely.
Q: Rolling 14 vs. her Mistress of the Hunt cliche, does she perceive writing on the menhir [Very likely]? Extreme yes.
Katja not only notices the Druidic script from her dream, she also recognizes other inscriptions in other forms of writing (including Tempian [Latin] and Nordic runes).
Q: Can she decipher any of the Tempian writing [50/50]? Extreme no
Q: Is it because of lack of light [50/50]? Yes.
Katja: (addressing Nina and cringing as her voice pierces the peaceful silence of the snow-covered clearing) "The writing on this menhir, I assume you copied it?"

Nina: "Of course."

Katja: "I should very much like to read it."

Katja reaches out and touches the menhir.
Q: Does she feel anything supernatural [50/50]? No.
Her fingers trace the markings on the cold stone. Lacking light other than the full moon, she soon returns to the center of the clearing to begin her prayers. It occurs to her that in warmer weather, she might be doing this sky-clad. Now, she finds herself trying to get comfortable in the knee-deep snow. At least there is no wind.

Katja moves around some snow, kneels down, and produces the holy symbol that Nina gave her. It shines brightly in the reflected light of the moon. Breathing deeply, Katja begins to meditate. She tries to forget that she's spent the last two years in a moonless cell. Breathe! Remember the miracle of when she was first called. Remember all the vivid dreams. Remember those nights with Deirdre [her best friend that was assaulted by her brother] and the standing stones on
her family's estate.
Q: Does Katja experience a vision [50/50]? No.
Q: Does she at least feel power return to her in response to the prayers [Likely]? Yes.
Q: Is the woman still waiting patiently when Katja concludes her ritual [Very likely]? Yes.
Katja stands up and brushes off the snow. She is cold, but not unpleasantly so. Mostly, she feels a peace that she hasn't known since she arrived on this world. She is confident that she can channel the power of the Silver Huntress and is eager to demonstrate this power.

Nina: "Did it work?"

Katja: "See for yourself." With that, Katja holds the holy symbol high and speaks aloud a prayer to the Silver Huntress.
RISUS: roll 8 on TN3 to cast 0-level spell... success!
The holy symbol bursts into a glow of silvery light as bright as a torch.
Q: Does the women gasp or act surprised [50/50]? No. Interesting.
Katja hold the light aloft and examines the clearing anew. Nina is standing next to the hobbled horses, stomping her feet to keep warm. She is visibly unimpressed by Katja's display of power. Annoyed, Katja turns to the menhir. Now she can read the writing.

Stepping forward with the glowing holy symbol held in front of her, Katja examines the menhir anew.
Q: Can she clearly make out the Tempian wiritng [50/50]? No.
Q: Is the writing too old and weathered [Likely]? No. The only logical answer is than it is in an unknown language.
Failing to read the foreign writing, Katja slumps in disappointment. Then she notices her glowing holy symbol and cheers. She still has the favor of the Silver Huntress and the Silver Huntress has power in this world! Her life is not over.

Katja walks back over to the horses and mounts hers. "Come, let's return to the house."

On the ride back, she begins plotting her escape.

********************

CHARACTERS - Added Deidre to the character list (though it would be very strange if she shows up).

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother
* Decipher the writing on the menhir

Updated Chaos Factor 3 (Katja feels very much in control right now)

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Is It Kringle Time Yet?

It's December and Christmas is coming up fast. Somehow, despite a snow-storm on Saturday, it has been a little tough getting into the proper spirit. The Risus Monkey and his family are all just emerging from a month-long Swine Flu-induced hibernation and other priorities are getting in the way getting into the Christmas mood.

One way that I'm attempting to bring the Christmas magic is by going back and rereading A Kringle In Time. Knowing full-well that I won't be running it this year (sigh), I am never-the-less cheered by S. John's loving yet blasphemous tribute to all the Christmas traditions that we hold dear.

Here's something else that might get you into the Christmas spirit. On Tuesday, ABC broadcast the new Pixar/Disney Christmas special Prep & Landing. It was great fun and the whole family stayed up to watch it. Naturally, I imagined the main character, Wayne, as being perfect for a Kringle In Time-like Risus adventure:
WAYNE
Occasionally naughty Christmas Elf working for Santa's elite Prep & Landing Crew. An expert at low-altitude Reindeer insertion, household infiltration, and candy-grapple extraction, Wayne is an old hat at making sure that Santa gets in and gets out with minimal fuss. Unfortunately, he's been at this job for a long time and he rather expects to move into management soon.

Cliches: Jaded Christmas Commando (4), Christmas City Old Timer (3), Management Material (2)

Lucky Shots: [] [] []

Tools: Multipurpose night vision goggles, sleepy-dust grenades, candy-grapple, "creatures stirring" sensor, snack evaluator, landing wands, portable arrestor cable, retractable skis, and utility belt.

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Moon Goddess: Scene 6

Introduction to this thread: The Moon Goddess Is A Harsh Mistress
Explanation of
Mythic elements: What's All This Mythic Stuff?
Previous Scene: Scene 5

SCENE 6
In which Susi brings a bathed and clothed Katja to Nina's study to prepare for the demonstration.

CHARACTERS
The Silver Huntress (her deity)
Soldiers
Drachen (her old warhorse)
Nina
Nina's Mother
Nina's Father
The Hard Man with the Nasty Scar
Susi
Yuliya
Igor

THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Regain the favor of the Silver Huntress
* Demonstrate magic to Nina
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother

CHAOS FACTOR: 3

********************
Scene occurs as expected.
CQ: What does Nina appear to be dong when Katja enters [Brewers]? Hackney horses (interpreted as Nina caring for horses in an attached stable).
Q: Has Nina changed clothes [50/50]? No.
Q: Is Katja dressed in (one would assume) Nina's mother's clothes [Likely]? Yes.
Q: Did they cut Katja's hair [50/50]? No.
Q: Did Katja cut her own hair [Likely]? No. Maybe it's not so long that it's going to get in the way.
Susi walks a bathed and refreshed Katja into a fire-lit study. Katja is dressed in fine (if musty) hunting clothes befitting an aristocratic woman. She assumes they belonged to Nina's mother. She is also carrying a fur hat, gloves, and a well-cut fur-trimmed coat. It's amazing how well the clothes fit her.

Nina sits at her desk and is performing maintenance on a beautiful riding saddle. Katja's eyes go wide.

Nina: "I assume you can ride?"

Katja: (Beaming) "Of course."

Nina: "And I assume you need to perform your rituals under the light of the moon?"

Katja: "It helps."

Nina: "Then I know a place that might be favorable. There's a forest clearing not too far from here, though it is rather inaccessible. We'll need to go on horseback. Is there anything else you need?"

Katja: "A holy symbol. Obviously, we'll need to improvise. It should be silver and moon-shaped. A silver coin will do in a pinch."
Q: Does Nina have an actual Silver Huntress holy symbol [Very unlikely]? Extreme yes.
Nina: (holding up an elegant silver crescent moon, engraved with strange carvings) "Will this do?"

Dumbfounded, Katja takes hold of the symbol and turns it over in her hands.
Q: Does Katja feel anything supernaturally [50/50]? No.
Katja: "What's going on here? How did you get this? I never had a holy symbol half as nice as this. These carvings... they look like they are dedicated to the Silver Huntress. How is that possible?"
Q: Does Nina explain [50/50]? No.
Nina: "Never mind that. Is there anything else?"

Katja: "Never mind? How can I..."

Nina: "I said never mind. I'll explain when the time is right. I don't understand half of it myself. Now, is there anything else you need?"

Katja: "No."

Nina: "Good, let's go."
Q: Will anybody else go with them [50/50]? No.
********************

CHARACTERS - No character updates.

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Regain the favor of the Silver Huntress
* Demonstrate magic to Nina
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother

Updated Chaos Factor 4 (the Silver Huntress holy symbol was an unexpected twist)

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

AD&D Classes as Cliches

In this post (and this one), Andrew Boswell (bottlesorter for you folks who hang out on the Mythic yahoo group) makes the connection between old-school AD&D (Oriental Adventures) classes and Risus cliches. He seems to be making the intuitive leap that you don't really need a skill system in D&D if you treat the character's class as a Risus cliche (with all that entails). I couldn't agree more. I especially like his explicit listing of classes and the corresponding Risus-style penumbra of abilities for each. He doesn't specify the resolution mechanic , though I trust it involves the character's level and a 3d6 or d20 roll. I'll be curious to see how his line of thinking develops. I used to be of the mind you had to have a skill system in D&D or else something would be missing. After playing Risus, I see that is no longer the case.

Note, I might still allow for a "background" cliche (like "Farmer" or "Blacksmith"), to both give character a little history and to provide for more non-adventuring skills. But this isn't strictly necessary. Most classes can be renamed to encompass vastly different types of non-fighting/non-spell-casting abilities.

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Moon Goddess: Scene 5

Introduction to this thread: The Moon Goddess Is A Harsh Mistress
Explanation of
Mythic elements: What's All This Mythic Stuff?
Previous Scene: Scene 4

SCENE 5
Susi to leads Katja to the kitchen for a meal and conversation.

CHARACTERS
The Silver Huntress (her deity)
Soldiers
Drachen (her old warhorse)
Nina
Nina's Mother
Nina's Father
The Hard Man with the Nasty Scar
Susi
The other young woman

THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Regain the favor of the Silver Huntress
* Demonstrate magic to Nina
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother

CHAOS FACTOR: 4

********************
The scene occurs as expected.
Q: Does the old woman invite conversation [50/50]? Yes.
Q: Is the house warm and comfortable [50/50]? No.
The woman leads Katja through the drafty house to a kitchen decorated in faded green and blue wall paper.
Q: Is the Kitchen roomy [50/50]? No.
Q: is the larder well-stocked [50/50]? Extreme no.
Susi: (In Hessian) "You speak German, no?"

Katja: "German... yes, I speak German."

Susi: "I thought so. Have a seat over here. You look absolutely blue, let me throw another log in the stove. I'll set some water boiling for tea, also."

Katja: "That would be nice."

Susi does all that and then gets a bottle of clear liquid and sets out two very small glasses.

Susi: "This should warm you up while I try to find something to feed you. We only arrived this afternoon and I'm afraid Igor hasn't had any luck bringing in game. A yes, a few potatoes. Hmm."

Katja smells the clear liquid and winces. The woman smiles, "Go ahead. It's good vodka. Russians know how to do that, at least."

Katja pours herself a glass and takes a sip and then downs the whole glass. She shudders but she does feel warmer and more comfortable already.

Susi: "That's a good girl. Pour another. I'll be only a moment. I found some beets and carrots. I might be able to mix up a soup."

Katja: "You just arrived?"

Susi: "Earlier this afternoon. We brought our own supper with us, correctly guessing that the larder would be bare. You look like you want to ask me something?"

Katja: "I want to ask you everything. Who are you people and what am I doing here?"
Q: Does Susi reveal the names of Nina and the other members of her party (not to mention Nina's parents) [Somewhat Likely]? No.
Q: Does she do this with kindness [50/50]? Yes.
Q: Does she give any indication that she known what Nina is up to [Unlikely]? Extreme no.
Susi: "Judging by the look Nina gave me, I think I may have said too much about who we are. But you can call me Susi."

Katja: "I... very well. You seem kind and I don't want to pester you with questions that you may not want to answer. But I am so very confused. I just spent 27 months alone in a prison cell and now I find myself in a strange land in a strange kitchen with no idea what's going to happen to me. Over two years of my life... lost. I know it's my fault..."

Susi: "There there, it's not your fault. And nobody's here to hurt you. I don't know what Nina's up to, but... well, I can't imagine that she means you harm. She's taken great risk to bring you here. You must be important in some way."

Susi gives Katja some improvised beet soup and continues, "Nina mentioned a demonstration. Perhaps you could focus on that? Is there anything you need from me?"

Katja: (slurping her soup) "You could tell me when the moon will come out, for a start. And what phase she is in. I think I know, but I can't be sure."
Q: Will the moon rise shortly [Likely]? No. If it hasn't already risen then it means it is waning (which does't fit thematically). Thus, the moon is already up and has been for some time.
Susi: "Girl, the moon is nearly full. She's been up for some time. Take a look."

Katja races to the window, breathing quickly. And there it is! High in the sky, bright and majestic.
Q: Does Katja feel any power from her goddess [50/50]? No.
Katja is instantly comforted, even though there is no tangible supernatural feeling inside of her. She is just overwhelmed to finally see the moon again.

Katja: "She's more beautiful then I remembered. It's strange though, I wasn't expecting her to be full. For as long as I can remember, my cycles have lined up with the phases of the moon. By my count, she should be waning crescent right now. Of course, not even knowing the difference between day and night for over two years may have screwed up everything. It's disorienting. And wonderful. If she's nearly full, the Goddess should be in her full power... assuming she is even in this world."
CQ: How does Susi react to Katja's talk of moon goddesses [Event Meaning]? Kill Vehicle (she tries to stop this conversation and will steer things to more practical matters).
Susi: "Why don't you sit down and finish you soup before it gets cold. "
Q: Does she invoke the name of the girl when she talks about getting Katja bathed and dressed [50/50]? Extreme yes.
Q: is the other woman Russian [Very likely]? Yes
CQ: Name [Everyone everywhere]? Yuliya.
When Katja finishes her sparse supper, Susi says "Yuliya should be done drawing your bath. Come with me and we'll see if we can't get you cleaned up and dressed in something more comfortable".

(Next up... a meeting with Nina)

********************

CHARACTERS - A name is given to the young woman (Yuliya). Igor is added to the list.

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Regain the favor of the Silver Huntress
* Demonstrate magic to Nina
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother

Updated Chaos Factor 3

********************

ADDITIONAL NOTES ON THE SILVER HUNTRESS
The Silver Huntress is a primordial goddess of the the Moon, Fertility, Magic, and the Hunt who was pretty much forgotten on Katja's world. From an early age, Katja had dreams that foreshadowed her calling. In some dreams she would be an ancient (primitive) priestess conducting cthonic rituals. In others, she would actually be a wolf hunting some kind of prey. Katja always imagined that these dreams were leading her to become a Druid. She had no idea that she'd be called to revive a much, much older cult.

Once Katja began her adventuring career [in game terms, she spent a couple of levels as a rather ineffective Ranger], she was nearly killed by a crossbow to the chest. She had a vision of the Silver Huntress and she was miraculously healed. But she wasn't called just yet. In subsequent dreams, the Huntress appeared to be arguing with another ancient (male) deity over Katja's worthiness to lead "The Hunt". Eventually, the argument was resolved and she was formally called to be a cleric.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Dyson's Random Morph Map

I'm a little behind the curve on this one (the Ruminator beat me to the punch), but Rob Lang over at the Free RPG Blog put together a handy-dandy little web-page that randomizes the totally awesome geomorphs being produced by Dyson (of A Character For Every Game fame). I absolutely adore Dyson's map work. His style totally resonates with me. His maps evoke an old-school aesthetic, are easy to read, and best of all are bursting with ideas for cool encounters. These particular geomorphs do what I didn't think was previously possible... they incorporate multi-level ideas on a two-dimensional map in such a way as to seem totally natural.

If I get the time (and I'm not sure when I will), I may try to expand on Rob's script. It seems to me that the only thing missing is the ability to rotate or flip the geomorphs. I also can't wait to see what this all looks like when Dyson completes his set (as of today, he's on geomorph #39). At 100, there's bound to be a staggering variety.
This all makes me want to do another solo dungeon-crawl. I've done some with Mythic using my AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide (or OSRIC depending on my whim). But the dungeons produced seem to lack coherence that I hope geomorphs could provide.

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Gears and Portals

On my hiatus, I've missed some excellent content on the Risusiverse. To remedy that, I've been perusing the 'verse in search of lost treasure. Today I discovered Gears and Portals. Man, I so love me some dimension-traveling steampunk. Hey, wait a minute! I'm running a dimension-travelling steampunk Gurps 4e game called Knights of the Astral Sea* right now! My game's quite different but Gears and Portals is still really cool.

* Yes, I do hope to create a Risus version of this campaign for the community at some point...

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Moon Goddess: Scene 4

Introduction to this thread: The Moon Goddess Is A Harsh Mistress
Explanation of
Mythic elements: What's All This Mythic Stuff?
Previous Scene: Scene 3

SCENE 4
In which the woman and Katja arrive at a remote dacha in the early evening.

CHARACTERS
The Silver Huntress (her deity)
Soldiers
Drachen (her old warhorse)
Woman in Uniform
The Woman's Mother
The Hard Man with the Nasty Scar

THREADS
* Escape from the mysterious woman
* Regain the favor of the Silver Huntress
* Demonstrate magic to the woman in the uniform
* Solve the mystery of the woman's mother

CHAOS FACTOR: 5

********************
The scene occurs as expected.

The bright sun gets lower in the sky (it was never really that high to begin with) and the horseless carriage makes its way over snowy roads through an endless evergreen forest.
Q: Did the woman provide Katja with warmer clothes or at least a blanket [Likely]? Yes
Katja snuggles under a blanket that she found in the back seat. She is wide awake, though. It seems like she has been asleep for years and she is fascinated by the snow-covered beauty of the forest. More than that, she is fascinated by the "scientific" automobile. The seats are wide and the ride is much smoother than a similar carriage of her world, even though the road is in terrible condition (the woman curses as she is forced to navigate several treacherous sections).

Katja also considers the whirlwind of events in the last hours. After years of nothing happening to her, she finds the pace of events unsettling. The relative quiet of the automobile helps her collect her thoughts. Who is this woman? Is she friend or foe? At first, she was certain that she was a foe. Certainly, she wants to use Katja to further her own political situation. In that, she reminds her of her own mother and her brother [see note below]. And the dream must have been a warning. But what kind of warning? Was the dead dream woman Katja? Or was it the woman's mother? Surely that dead woman is intimately involved in this affair.

For the moment, Katja decides against probing the woman for answers. There will be time later, when Katja is not feeling so vulnerable.

As darkness falls, the automobile produces lights to illuminate the road. The woman turns and navigates a small stretch of road to reach some kind of hunting lodge.

Katja: "Is this your house?"
Q: (50/50)? Extreme No. Q: Did it once belong to her family [Likely]? Yes
The woman laughs, "I wish. It belongs to the State now. But it used to belong to my family. We used to come here when I was a little girl. My mother loved this house."

Katja: "And your father?"
Q: Does the woman have memories of her father [50/50]? Yes.
CQ Who was her father [Wikipedia]? USS Holmes (interpret as Russian Navy officer, likely rarely around)
Woman: "My father rarely came here. He was usually at sea. When he wasn't, we spent most of our time in...
Q: Would she say Petrograd (50/50)? No.
Q: Would she say Leningrad (50/50)? No. Assume Saint Petersburg (which says something about the woman's commitment to Party)]
...Saint Petersburg. When he did come here, he was happy, though."

Katja pauses, then says, "You never told me you name."
Q: Does she tell her [50/50]? Extreme no.
Woman: "You right, I didn't."

From the tone, Katja gathers that the conversation is over. Names have power, even here. Katja assumes that that this woman would prefer to hold onto hers.
Q: Do servants come out to meet the car [50/50]? No.
The car stops and the woman leaves the car to open Katja's door. Katja struggles to keep the blanket wrapped about her as she stumbles through the snow on the path leading up to the house.
Q: Are there lights on in the house [Likely]? Yes.
Q: Does the woman knock [50/50]? No.
The woman uses a key and opens the door. She shouts something in a language Katja doesn't understand.
Q: Are they greeted by just one ally [50/50]? No, two.
Q: Is one of the allies on old woman [50/50]? Yes.
Q: Is the other one a bull of an older man [50/50]? No.
Q: A handsome young man [50/50]? No.
Q: An attractive young woman [Likely]? Yes.
Q: Does the older woman speak German (now, at least) [50/50]? Yes.
CQ: What name does the older woman call Katja's rescuer [Everyone Everywhere: Russian]? Nina (short for Antonina).
The older woman makes a superstitious gesture and speaks Hessian (in a dialect closer to Katja's own than Katja's "rescuer"), "Nina, it is your mother's ghost!"
CQ: The older woman's name [EE - German]? Susi.
Q: Is the young woman German as well [50/50]? Extreme no.
Nina gives the old woman an icy stare and says, "Susi, it is most assuredly not my mother's ghost. You'll see that when you get her out of these clothes and spend time with her. Which is exactly what you are going to do. See that she is fed, bathed, and properly clothed." Nina then switches to the unknown language and addresses the currently confused young woman. She nods and disappears into the house.

Nina (in Hessian again): "I have things to which I must attend. Katja, I will see you in two hours. I hope you will be in a state to discuss the demonstration that you promised me."

Nina then leaves without bothering to wait for an answer.

********************

CHARACTERS - A name is given to the mysterious woman in uniform (Nina). Add Susi, the young woman, and Nina's father to the list.

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape to freedom
* Regain the favor of the Silver Huntress
* Demonstrate magic to Nina
* Solve the mystery of Nina's mother

Updated Chaos Factor 4

********************

ADDITIONAL NOTES ON KATJA'S FAMILY
Without going into a lot unnecessary detail, it should be mentioned that Katja has unresolved issues with her brother (Ulrich) and mother. Katja enjoyed a very close relationship to her father. When he died, her mother and brother kept trying to marry her off. They forbade her from hunting or sneaking off to the old standing stones on her estate where she would pretend to be a Druid (this was before she was called into the service of the Silver Huntress). One day, she discovered her brother doing something really nasty to her best friend (who was supposed to meet her by the standing stone). Katja may or may not have stabbed her brother (it was a confusing encounter there was blood on her dagger) and she fled her homeland to seek adventure in distant lands. As far as she knows, her brother never stopped hunting for her.

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Target Numbers in Mythic Risus

When a character attempts something challenging in Risus that isn't a contest or combat, a GM usually assigns a Target Number to the task that depends on the applicability of the cliche being used.

So what happens when there is no GM?

When playing Risus with the Mythic Game Master Emulator, this situation occurs frequently. Indeed, it comes up in the latest scene that I posted from The Moon Goddess is a Harsh Mistress. As a GM, Mythic is constrained in the type of answers that it can give to questions. It doesn't do numbers well. You cannot ask Mythic what a TN should be for a given task. What you can do, however, is turn things around and roll against the most appropriate-seeming cliche first. Then, you ask Mythic if your result was enough to succeed. You use logic and your best judgment to roughly gauge the odds of this. Then, based on a roll to answer that Yes/No question, you will find out if you succeed or fail. Mythic can even tell you if you succeed or fail in a spectacular fashion.

The example from Scene 3:
Q: Katja rolls 6 on her Aristocrat cliche, is it enough to pose as the spirit of the woman's mother (in other words, are the guards spooked) [50/50]? Yes.
In this case, I assumed the Target Number was likely between 5 and 10 and that there was a roughly 50/50 chance that Katja would have succeeded.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Silverlode on the Risusiverse

Silverlode 1908 now has a vacation home on the Risusiverse. The new site is a slightly revised and stripped-down version suitable for people who are more interested in stealing the setting for their own use. Silverlode 1908 will always have a home on the Risus Monkey and that site is due for some revisions soon.

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Moon Goddess: Scene 3

Introduction to this thread: The Moon Goddess Is A Harsh Mistress
Explanation of
Mythic elements: What's All This Mythic Stuff?
Previous Scene: Scene 2

SCENE 3
In which the woman returns, Katja is taken outside for the first time, and she is driven to the woman's dacha to prepare for her magical demonstration.

CHARACTERS
The Silver Huntress (her deity)
Soldiers
Drachen (her old warhorse)
Woman in Uniform
The Woman's Mother

THREADS
* Escape from the "Tower"
* Regain Contact with the Silver Huntress
* Demonstrate magic to the woman in the uniform

CHAOS FACTOR: 6 (holding steady)

********************

Expecting the woman to arrive with an armed guard the next day, the scene is altered.
Q: Does the woman come without the armed guard [50/50]? Yes.
Q: Does the woman have one or more companions [Likely]? No. Interesting.
Q: Does the woman come sooner than expected [50/50]? Yes.
RANDOM EVENT [NPC Action (Woman), Malice Possessions, clarified(?) by Brewers (Bully, Bravest Pagan Knight)... the woman is going to bully Katja to wear the clothes and either the woman or her mother are "pagan knights"].
Several hours later, as Katja is once again doing breathing and flexibility exercises (a useful habit in her isolation), the door to her cell is suddenly unbolted. The woman enters briskly, holding what is obviously a small projectile weapon.

Woman: "The clothes. Wear them now or you stay in this cell and rot."

She is obviously agitated, more annoyed and angry than frightened.

Katja quickly weighs the potential outcomes of resisting and then decides to relent. She has no weapons and no power. She is helpless. Since it may be her only chance to escape, she casts off her "proletariat" prison clothing. Suddenly aware of her nakedness, she quickly dons the silk small clothes and embroidered dress. The woman roughly laces her up in back and then she awkwardly puts on the strange black boots with raised heels.

The Woman looks at Katja and mutters something under her breath.

Katja: "Satisfied?"

Woman: "Not even close. Let's go. Walk in front of me. Act like you own the place. It should be easy for an aristocrat like yourself."
Q: Does Katja feel anything (supernaturally) now that she is wearing the clothes [50/50]? No.
Katja's suspicions are aroused. This would not seem to be the expected behavior of someone in authority. Is this woman trying to steal her out of the prison? And why make her wear the dress? She made no effort to clean up other aspects of Katja's appearance (certainly, her hair must be a mess).

Katja leaves the cell with the woman's projectile weapon in her back.
Q: Is it a hallway with other cells [Likely]? Yes.
Q: Any indication that the other cells are populated [Very unlikely (given that Katja has never heard anybody else since she's been here)]? No.
Q: Any sign of guards [50/50]? No.
The woman marches Katja down the hall, past rows of apparantly uninhabited cells much like her own. There are no signs of guards. In fact, there is sign that this place has even been inhabited in quite some time.

Katja: "Where is everybody?"
Q: Does the woman answer her question [50/50]? Yes. [CQ (Brewers): "Waking the Witch" interpeted as historical evidence of past torture regime...perhaps ghosts are involved]
Woman: "We don't use this part of the facility anymore. [Q: "Ignorant" (Unlikely)? Yes] Ignorant people say it is haunted. The [Q: "czars" (50/50)? Yes] czars used to keep special prisoners here. The stories of attrocities... well, they are even shocking in this day and age. It's a wonder we discovered you at all."

A chill runs up Katja's spine. How did they discover her? And why did they let her stay in here? Then she surmises that the "ignorant" people may have concluded that her appearance was part of the haunting. It's lucky for her that she was fed and not simply ignored.

Katja decides to let the matter drop for the time being. But as spooky as this all seems, she thinks she smells a small opportunity.

The woman leads Katja up a small flight of stairs to a door. While the woman retrieves the keys to open the door, Katja asks, "Did your mother have a connection to this place?"
Q: Did she [Likely]? Yes.
The woman pauses before opening the door and looks Katja in the eyes. "She died here. One of the last crimes of the Czar before he was deposed. She was wearing that dress when she died." Opening the door, she whispers forcefully, "You are now my mother's ghost. Act like it. Quickly, through the door, down the hall, and outside. Do not stop until I say so."
Q: Is the hall beyond the door inhabited by guards or other official personnel [Likely]? Yes.
Q: Katja rolls 6 on her Aristocrat cliche, is it enough to pose as the spirit of the woman's mother (in other words, are the guards spooked) [50/50]? Yes.
Katja does as the woman asks. She strides forward with a vague angry look in her eye. Rather than trying to produce a wailing or moaning, she opts to silently mouth all her frustrations in the hopes that it will keep her appearance more mysterious and less mundane. Looking about, she notices various guards (looking much like those of her dream) and other officials go white at the site of her. Some make superstitous gestures. A few turn and run. No one makes a move to stop Katja as she walks down the hall and exits the building...
Q: Is it day [Very likely]? Yes (Random Event - see below).
Q: Is it sunny [unlikely]? Yes.
... into the light of a late winters day.
RANDOM EVENT: PC Positive. Ruin of Military. Interpreted as explosive diversion to assist in escape

Q: Did the woman follow her out [Unlikely]? No.
Q: Does she rejoin Katja in the yard in a vehicle [Likely]? Yes.
Katja strives to keep from squinting in the harsh light. She hasn't seen real sunlight in over two years. The light is almost blinding. But she strives to maintain the illusion of incorporeality. So far, it appear to be working. People are backing away from her and everyone is quiet. Then, a hard looking man with short blond hair and a nasty scar starts shouting orders in a language that Katja doesn't understand. People start to move towards her. Where is the woman? She is no longer behind her. Suddenly, there is a large explosion to her left and she can see a pillar of fire and smoke rise up towards the sky. The soldiers look in that direction and many move to help with the fire.

It is at this moment that a strange gray-green vehicle comes screeching to a stop in front of Katja. The impossibility of this horseless carriage hits her hard and she is left there standing, mouth agape as the woman yells at her, "Don't just stand there like an idiot! Get in!"

Katja shakes herself and does as the woman says, fumbling with the door's opening mechanism before finally gaining entrance. She shuts the door and the carriage races off at a fantastic speed. There is much noise and commotion, but it is not long before this subsides in the distance.

Katja summons the courage to speak, "Your world is so... strange. Clearly you have mastered magic the likes of which I have never seen. But it doesn't feel magical. It feels dirty and... mundane. I'm at a loss."

Woman: "You have never seen an automobile before? Yes, if your story checks out then that would make sense. There is no magic in the vehicle. It runs on scientific principals. The only magic that you have witnessed today is the power of ignorance and superstition."

Katja: "This was an escape or at least a kidnapping. You don't have the blessing of your authorities for what you do."

Woman: "Of course not. But that does not mean that I cannot achieve retroactive permission. If your claims prove to be true, the State will forgive this little incident. Your claims better prove to be true. Otherwise, we are both likely dead women. Or worse."

Katja: "Why risk your life..."
Q: Does she claim it is about her mother [50/50]? No
Q: Does she take a sympathetic tone [50/50]? Extreme no.
Woman: "It wasn't out of concern for your well being, let me assure you. Achieving rank naturally creates enemies. Every dark alley holds a knife in the back. Every banquet holds a poison goblet. And every innocuous report contains a sentence to Siberia. The way to avoid such a fate is to build leverage. There is traditional leverage, which I have of course stockpiled in quantity. But such leverage is fragile. True power comes from being indispensable. You could make me indispensable."

Katja: "I'm not sure I believe you. Your mother..."

Woman: "Believe what you will. Do not talk about my mother. Her role in this has concluded."

Katja considers pressing the issue, but thinks better of it. Best to wait until there is an opportunity to escape.

The two drive for [Q: hours (Likely)? yes] hours in silence along deserted roads through dark and ancient forests. Katja considers her strategy.

********************

CHARACTERS - Adding the man with the nasty scar.

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape from the mysterious woman
* Regain Contact with the Silver Huntress
* Demonstrate magic to the woman in the uniform
* Solve the mystery of the woman's mother

Updated Chaos Factor 5 (Katja's situation has noticeably improved)

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Getting Funky With Lucky Shots

For those of you that use Funky Dice and the optional Lucky Shots rule from the Companion...

I had always assumed that Lucky Shots (and Bonus Gear) added another die of the same die type as the cliche being used to the character's roll. I don't think that it is explicitly stated that this is the case in the rules, though perhaps it is implied. Regardless, it is noteworthy that Lucky Shots are priced only in terms of dice and not in terms of Funky Dice points.

Upon reflection, this could be problematic. There is a big difference in using a Lucky Shot on a regular d6 cliche vs a Funky d20 cliche.

I have two approaches that I favor. The first is to price Funky Dice like Hooks & Tales (but in reverse). That means, Lucky Shots cost 10% the starting points during character creation. Lucky Shots (and Questing Dice) bought in this way add dice of the same type as the cliche being used.

The other approach that I would consider would be that Lucky Shots always add 1d6, regardless of if Funky Dice are used.

For Bonus Gear, I think there is no need for a hard-and-fast rule. It could vary on the purpose of the gear itself. One could assume that the default is to add dice of the same type of the cliche being used.

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Moon Goddess: Scene 2

Introduction to this thread: The Moon Goddess Is A Harsh Mistress
Previous Scene: Scene 1


SCENE 2: In which Katja encounters the person who gave her the embroidered dress. The matter of Katja's imprisonment is (perhaps) resolved.

CHARACTERS
The Silver Huntress (her deity)
Soldiers

Drachen (her old warhorse)

Mysterious Benefactor

THREADS
* Escape from the "Tower"
* Regain Contact with the Silver Huntress
* Discover the identity of the person who gave her the embroidered clothes

CHAOS FACTOR: 6

********************

The scene is altered (from who is expected to show up).
Q: Is the man (or woman) a no-show [50/50]? No.
Q: Do a number of people show up instead of the expected one [50/50]? No.
Q: Katja was expecting an older, male soldier or lord... perhaps the one who was holding her captive. Does a woman show up instead [50/50]? Yes.
There is the sound of a bolt being unlatched and suddenly the door of the cell opens up. This is the first time that Katja has ever seen the door open.
Q: Does the woman appear to be a servant, or is she at least carrying a hot meal
[50/50]? No.
Q: Is the woman wearing a uniform [50/50]? Yes.
Q: Does she resemble Cate Blanchet from the most recent Indiana Jones movie
[Likely]? Yes (this question just popped into my head).
A stern looking woman enters and says, "You are not wearing the dress we provided. Why do I not believe you are more comfortable wearing the clothes of the proletariat? You have the speech, manner, and bearing of a ...
Q: Fascist [Likely]? No
...degenerate Bavarian aristocrat."
ASIDE: Katja is from a pseudo-medieval/Renaissance world with cultures that parallel those of Earth. Her own homeland is called Hess, which resembles pre-industrial Germany.
The woman speaks in heavily accented Hessian, but some of the words are unfamiliar. Her clothes are similar to those worn by the soldiers in her dream, though they are better tailored. Katja tries to take in the entirety of her appearance (including the sword and strange pouch on her right hip), but the woman's icy stare keeps Katja's attention on her face. She's dangerous looking. Silently, she thanks her dream for the warning about the gift of clothing. Evil or no, this woman is clearly her enemy.

"You would be wise to speak. I can make you talk, you know. Actually, I might enjoy it. I just thought we could begin things in a more civilized manner."

Katja, not wanting to submit herself to torture for no reason, "What do you want to talk about? I haven't had a conversation in... some time."

"Yes, our records are unclear as to when you first arrived here. But the guards have clearly heard you crying out in German, English, Latin, even Gaelic. Who are you and how did you end up in our gulag?"

"I... the languages you mentioned... I don't recognize the names you gave them. That makes me think that I am further from home than I had first imagined. By my reckoning, it has been 27 moons since I first materialized in your 'gulag'. I don't know if I appeared in the clothes that I now wear, or if I was dressed by your guards. All I know is that I have lost everything. My friends, my possessions, my Drachen, and my...". She swallows the word "goddess". She doesn't want to believe that she has lost Her too, not after the dream.

The woman's eyes narrow. "I think you better start at the beginning."

"It's a long tale."

"I have time."

Katja sighs. "I suppose you do. But I'm not much of a tale-spinner. If only Bix were here."

Woman: "Bix?"

Katja: "Bix. One of my adventuring companions. My best friend, actually. He was our party bard."

Woman: "Bard? Adventuring companions? What kind of nonsense is this? I'll ask you one more time - who are you? Where are you from? What are you doing here? How did you get here?"

Katja: (shrinking from the the woman's tone) "My name is Katja. I hail from a rural estate in western Hess."

Woman: "Hessen?"

Katja: "Hess. Randstein to be specific. I arrived here by pulling The Tower out of a Deck of Many Things."

The woman seems completely mystified.

Katja: "You have no idea what I'm talking about, do you? A Deck of Many Things is powerful magical artifact. It looks like a deck of cards, similar to those used in divination rituals. It is enchanted to enact powerful magic on the person who makes a draw. The type of magic relates to the image on the card. I drew The Tower. Therefore, I was imprisoned here. I lost everything."

Woman: "Why on earth would you voluntarily risk such a dire... wait, this is absurd. Magic? You honestly expect me to believe that you teleported here by magic?"

Katja: "It does seem a little crazy..."

Woman: "Crazy! Yes. And superstitious nonsense. I see that I'm going to have to resort to harsher methods."

Katja: "Wait! Please. I really have nothing to hide."

Woman: "Well, Katja... can you you prove you came here by magic?"

Katja: (slumps, shaking her head) "No, not likely. But if you don't have records of me being arrested, couldn't you just let me go? Surely you wouldn't let someone rot in jail for no 'cause..."

With that, the woman laughs. "Obviously, you must be from another world. This is a Soveit gulag. People disappear here all the time. If you don't tell me something to prove your usefulness then I'll shut the door and you'll never see another soul again. You may starve for all I care, though a worse fate would be to be die of old age in this hole."
Q: Does the Russian agent play nice (either believing or pretending to believe Katja's story) [50/50]? Yes.
Katja: (trying to fight off the desperation that she feels) "Please! Obviously, magic must be rare or non-existent here. I get that. What if I could prove the existence of magic? I could cast a spell."

Woman: "You must be joking. But yes, cast a spell. I'm eager to see it."

Katja: "The problem is... well, I'm not a wizard. I rely on the divine power of the Silver Huntress. But to channel her power to perform 'magic', I must perform certain rituals under the light of the moon. I haven't seen the moon since I arrived." She thinks of her dream but says nothing of it.

Woman: "And you want me to let you out of your cell so that you can perform your superstitious ritual and demonstrate the existance of magic. You ask a lot."
Q: Does she take Katja up on her offer [50/50]? YES. Enthusiastically, actually.
Katja looks defeated.

Woman: (softening her tone) "What would you say if I were inclined to believe you? What if I do take you outside and you show me your magic? What kind of magic can you perform?"

Katja is spooked by the predatory desire in this woman's voice. Clearly, she's not all that she seems. She believes in magic and probably wants to use Katja as some sort of tool. Every instinct inside her screams "No!". But she so very much wants to see the moon, to walk under the sky without these accursed walls.

Katja: "I worship the Goddess of the Moon. By her grace, I can summon forth light and have some control over the emotions of others. She is a benevolent goddess that also grants me the power to heal wounds in emergencies. " Katja decides to leave it that. Better not to put all her cards on the table.

Woman: "I get the feeling that you are not telling me everything. If your goddess is so great and powerful, how can I be sure that you will not use her power to run into the wilderness?"

Katja tries to be as meek as possible, but she cannot formulate a response. She doesn't know what to say.

Woman: "Interesting. Your silence makes it obvious that you hope to do just as I described. More than anything you have told me, that makes me think that there might be something to your story. Very well. I am curious. I want to see this magic. I'd make you swear not to escape, but that would be pointless. Just know this: if you remain on your best behavior then I think we can have a profitable relationship. I'll move you to a secure dacha in Siberia and you will beprovided with the comforts that you require. But if you try to escape and we catch you, you will beg to return to this windowless hole."

Woman: "I'll return tomorrow. And please, wear the clothes. They belonged to my mother."

********************

CHARACTERS - The Mysterious Benefactor is replaced by this Woman in Uniform. I'll add the woman's mother, but I won't add Bix (a friend's former PC).

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape from the "Tower"
* Regain Contact with the Silver Huntress
* Demonstrate magic to the woman in the uniform

Updated Chaos Factor 6 (holding steady)

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

What's All This Mythic Stuff?

In my last post, I began documenting a log of my actual experience playing Risus with the Mythic Game Master Emulator. Since this blog is dedicated to all things Risus, I imagine that the Mythic stuff might seem rather confusing. This post is my attempt to make the last post and future Mythic-related posts intelligible to folks whether they are just interested in the Risus bits (there will be lots of Risus bits in future scenes) or if they are generally interested in seeing how Mythic works in practice.

Scene N: Leading off the post, I'll typically write down how I expect the scene to start. In Mythic, there is always a chance that things won't occur as planned. If that happens, I may revise this description and I'll certainly note when the unexpected occurs as I document the scene.
Characters: A list of all relevant characters is maintained because there will often be random events that reference existing NPCs. If this happens, a random character is selected from this list. This list will change from scene to scene.
Threads: Like the character list, this is a list of open plot threads (or "quests" in MMO-speak). Random events may reference this plot threads, start new ones, or close them out entirely. New threads can also be noted as they come up during the course of play.
Chaos Factor: A numerical indication of how "crazy" or "uncontrolled" or "action-packed" an adventure is getting. It changes from scene to scene and the number influences the frequency of random events, alterations to scenes, and even the probabilities of yes/no questions.
Scene Log: What follows is a prose description of the events in the scene. Mythic or Game information is noted, usually with indented text. Note that what you see is exactly how I played out the scene. I write the story as a logical progression of event and when I needed to consult the "Game Master", I used the Mythic Game Master Emulator.
Q: This is a yes/no question. In Mythic, There are four possible results: Yes, No, Extreme Yes, and Extreme No. Odds are usually called out in brackets (and are determined based on what seems logical).
CQ: This a "complex question". In other words, a free form question with no Yes/No response. Typically, I'll go to a source for random data (which I will note). I get a random answer and use it as a kind of ink blot and go with the first reasonable answer that pops in my head. Sometimes I'll go to multiple sources or ask Yes/No questions to get clarification.
RANDOM EVENT: In the curse of answering yes/No questions, random events may be generated. A random event will always have a focus (determined by rolling on a Mythic table) and two words meant to inspire the nature of the event (also rolled in Mythic). Sometimes, I'll ask additional questions to pin down the event.
Characters (again): After the scene concludes, I'll note changes to the characters list.

Threads (again): Same with the list of plot threads.
Updated Chaos Factor: I'll note how the Chaos Factor changes going into the next scene.

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Moon Goddess Is A Harsh Mistress: Scene 1

For an introduction to this Mythic adventure (including stats for Katja), see this post.

DISCLAIMER: This is an actual log of my Mythic session. I have only edited it for format and obvious errors. If this were a story, I'd no doubt write it differently.

SCENE 1
In which we find Katja alone in a cell, trying to cope with isolation. She cannot see the sky and has only been able to mark the passage of time through her monthly cycle. There is no apparent means of escape and she has not dreamed of the Silver Huntress in the many months of her imprisonment.

CHARACTERS (from Personal List)
The Silver Huntress (her deity)
(I'm leaving her other associates back home on her own world)

THREADS
* Escape from the "Tower"
* Regain Contact with the Silver Huntress

CHAOS FACTOR: 5

********************

The scene is altered (something must change, or there would be no adventure).
Q: Is she still alone [Near a sure thing]? Yes.
Q: Can she suddenly see the sky (specifically, the moon) [Very unlikely]? Extreme no.
Q: Is there an escape opportunity [50/50]? No.
So we begin with a dream.
CQ: What is the nature of the dream [Brewers]? Obstacle Race
Katja is riding on the back of Drachen (her former warhorse and animal companion) in hot pursuit of something. She is leaping over stone fences, splashing through streams, dodging pillars of rocks. Whatever she is pursuing, it is fast and it wants to get away. But for the first time in what seems like years, Katja is experiencing the exhilaration of the hunt. She has the hunger. She will not be denied. It feel so good to have Drachen under her saddle. The moon is a bright ally above her. She feel like she is getting close and she raises her spear...
CQ: What is she hunting [Wikipedia]? the Scottish founder of the Special Air Service? (wtf?)
Q: Has she walked into an ambush of pulp-era soldiers [50/50]? Yes (I should note that I was open to any sort of world or genre, not just D&D-style fantasy).
...and find herself confronted by at least a dozen soldiers in long gray coats wielding strange looking spears or staff. Instinctively, she knows they are projectile weapons and that she has gone from hunter to hunted in a heartbeat. Fight, flee, or surrender? The odds are impossible but she cannot surrender. She's done surrendering. So she rides...hard... right at them. The weapons of the soldiers produce a storm of smoke and lighting and Drachen squeals in pain, toppling forward.
Q: Does Katja emerge from the crash and flee into the woods [50/50]? Yes
Katja lets the momentum of her falling steed carry her over the ambush and she miraculously rolls on the soft ground. She springs up and dashes into the dark of the wood. Looking down, she realizes that she is wearing dirty peasant clothes of unfamiliar style. She also realizes that it is cold and there is snow on the ground. Without warm clothes, she won't be able to survive long. But better to freeze in the woods to than to give in. So she runs.
Q: Does the pursuit continue [50/50]? No
And the sounds of pursuit fade. The world seems quiet and the moon illuminates the snow almost to the light of day. She comes to a clearing with a menhir at its center. A place of power, even in this alien land. She looks up and says a
word of thanks to the Silver Huntress, and touches the menhir.
Q: Does she wake [50/50]? No
She traces barely perceptible runes with her fingers. It looks like Druidic writing, but she can't make it out. Then she hears the howl of a wolf in the distance.
Q: Is there a sound of pursuit [50/50]? No
Q: A voice, perhaps [50/50]? No
Q: Red eyes on the clearing's edge [50/50]? No
CQ: What happens next [Brewers]? Dam'ask Linen.
Something catches her eye on the edge of the clearing. It looks like a corpse, frozen from exposure. She is wearing elaborately woven clothes with a silver wolf motif.
Q: Is it Katja [50/50]? Yes.
She turns over the body to stare into her own eyes. With that, she looks up and realizes the soldiers have caught her. They fire their weapons and then blackness. She then wakes up.
Q: Are there woven linen clothes in her cell [50/50]? Extreme yes (exactly like
her dream).
Q: Is her cell reminiscent of a Soviet Gulag [Very likely]? Yes.
She stares around the cell that has been her home for these long months. There is the uncomfortable bed, a wool blanket, a dirty metal toilet, and an impregnable iron door with a slat for her food and water. A strange, near
magical light illuminates the room, depriving her of darkness for a comfortable sleep. Her clothes... yes, the same drab, gray peasant's clothes of her dream. The walls are marked with scratches to denote a count of her monthly cycles... her only method of keeping time.

All this is the same sight that has met her eyes for countless days. Yet upon this waking there is something different. There is a neatly folded pile of clothes by the door.

She considers yelling out in frustration and puzzlement, but she gave up on that months ago. Nobody has ever answered. But nobody has even given her clothes before. She turns them over and is surprised to discover that they look exactly like the clothes on the body of her dead dream self.

To herself (as has become her habit), "Now that is something! I haven't had a vision since I arrived in this gray hell. Not exactly the clothes that I'd pick out for myself. And I'm not sure if I really want to be wearing clothes associated with me getting killed. Someone.... dare I hope... no, she can't be here... can she? The dream had to be a warning."

Yes, she concludes, the dream had been a warning to be wary of the new gift. The gift appears to be a baroque dress embroidered with a silver wolf motif. Whomever placed it into her cell clearly knows something about her calling. Is
this some kind of test? Does she dare hope that her patron has found her?

She rubs her temples. The light of the strange lamp hurts her eyes, especially the way it flickers in a manner entirely different from that of a candle's flame. "If it's a test of my faith then I must pass. I may not get another
chance."

With that, she places the clothes on the bed and waits.

********************

CHARACTERS - Added Soldiers and the Mysterious Benefactor (and pull in the Silver Huntress from her Personal List, since she is mentioned). I'll add Drachen to the list as well (though would seem unlikely that he'd show up).

UPDATED THREADS
* Escape from the "Tower"
* Regain Contact with the Silver Huntress
* Discover the identity of the person who gave her the embroidered clothes

Updated Chaos Factor 6

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Now, With Tags!

Blogging technology has not stagnated in the years that I was busy changing diapers and chasing toddlers. I'm slowly starting to bring things up to date around here. I've added labels/tags for all recent posts and will eventually get to the archives. Eventually, I'll make improvements to the layout (a mobile-friendly version of the site is goal of mine). Be patient. I want to spend most of my energy on writing new content.

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Friday, December 04, 2009

The Moon Goddess Is A Harsh Mistress

Professor Pope's D&D3e Forgotten Songs campaign ranks among my top role-playing experiences as a player. One thing that did not sit well with me, though, is the way the campaign ended. Just as the campaign was wrapping, we found a Deck of Many Things. Initially I resisted the temptation to draw. But under pressure, I relented. Naturally, I drew the Tower. So here I have one of my favorite PCs that I have ever played stuck somewhere in the Multiverse, cut-off from everything that she holds dear.

With Risus and The Mythic GM Emulator, I could finally tell the rest of Katja's story.

SYSTEM
Though the original campaign was D&D 3e, I opted to convert my character to Risus (see That Old School Dungeon Fantasy).

RISUS CONVENTIONS
Hooks, Tales, Sidekicks, Pumps, Double-Pumps, Funky Dice, Boxcars, Lucky Shots, and Risus Monkey-style combat rules are in effect. Katja's style of magic is (initially, at least) based on D&D 3e clerical magic (see below). Other forms of magic or powers may be encountered.

MYTHIC CONVENTIONS
The Standard Event Table is used. The minimum Chaos Rank is 3. For Complex Questions, I'll consult the Event Table, Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, Wikipedia, and perhaps other sources as they become available. For names, I'll typically use the "Everyone Everywhere" name supplement.

CHARACTER

Katja (Anna-Katarina von Randstein)
Katja is a young woman in her early twenties. She is small and slender of build, barely reaching 5' in height and 100 lbs in weight. She has fair skin, bright blue eyes, and luxurious red hair that she used to wear tied back in a ribbon under a tricorn hat. Of course, she currently looks considerably more ragged, having spent the last several years locked in "the Tower". Katja has a moon-shaped silver scar on her left breast where the Silver Huntress miraculously healed her. Most of her other wounds have been healed by magic, though she has a visible scar on her right ankle (where she was mauled by a wolf).

Cliches: Cleric of the Silver Huntress (4), Mistress of the Hunt (4), Waifish Equestrian Ranger from a Noble Hessian Family (2) , Self-doubting Chosen One (2).

Hook: Small of stature (limits her choice of weapons, armor, and the amount of gear she can carry). Also utterly dependent on her goddess for her supernatural powers.

Languages: Hessian, Pembroke, Tempian, and accented Cimbrian. [These languages are fantasy versions of German, English, Latin, and Gaelic respectively]

Lore: As a D&D-style cleric, she has access to many spell effects (it all depends what she prays for at night). She may cast up to 3rd level spells [TN12], 2nd level spells [TN9], first level spells [TN6], or orisons [TN3]. In a combat, available spell effects are based on her current dice. Also, she typically cannot cast the same non-healing spell more than once between periods of prayer.
  • Hunt Domain: 1. Expeditious Retreat, 2. Scent of the Wolf, 3. Wolf Shape.
  • Moon Domain: 1. Faerie Fire, 2. Moonbeam, 3. Moon Blade.
Tools: She would normally wear light armor and carry a scimitar, light crossbow, and hunting spear. She would always have her holy symbol. At the start of this adventure, she has nothing.

Tale: It's long and I won't repost it here. Instead, I'll try to explain things from her past as they come up in the story.

This is an edited version of my introductory post on the Mythic Yahoo Group (here). If you get into Mythic at all, I highly recommend the list.

Stay tuned for Scene 1!

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One Page Dungeons from Snikle

Still on that Old School kick...

Early this past summer, while fire-hosing myself with retro-gaming goodness, I came across the One Page Dungeon Contest (winners and all entries can be found here). What became readily apparant from reading the many excellent submissions is that Risus is a perfect fit for the format. What other system offers such brevity in writing up opponents?

An early example of a Risus one-page dungeon that I discovered was Snikle's Zombie Tower. What I didn't realize at the time is that Snikle had created a large handful of brilliant Risus one-page adventures. Check out The Tomb of Galron Dor, The Innsmouth Lighthouse, The Spider Caves of Grinlok, and The Ruins of Kal-Kamen.

Snikle's blog also contains a healthy dose of Risus goodness, if you look for it.

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

That Old School Dungeon Fantasy

The esteemed Berin Kinsman (Risus Domnio), Vincent Diakuw (Dungeonautica), and Lord Zamiel (Fantastic Fantasy Adventures in Risusland via the Risusiverse) are only three prominent members of our community who have discussed using Risus to play classic Dungeon Fantasy in the spirit of Old School D&D. Given the popularity of the genre, I'm sure most Risus GM's have dabbled in Dungeon Fantasy at one time or another. My own Dragonspire drew heavily on the genre and I have run face-to-face and solo (via Mythic) Dungeon Fantasy games as well.

It is my experiments with Mythic that led me to the conclusion that I wanted a consistent conversion from any version of D&D/D20 to Risus. It is easy enough to do conversions on an ad hoc basis... An orc? No problem, he's an Orc Warrior (3). But for a long-running game that truly captures the "level" progression/power curve of the old school D&D experience, some guidelines to maintain a reasonable level of internal consistency seemed neccessary.

CHARACTERS
D&D/D20 characters are amazingly easy to translate to Risus once a suitable level-to-cliché dice conversion factor can be agreed upon. Coming up with that conversions factor is largely a matter of interpreting how the Putz->Professional->Master level descriptors map to D&D levels. Personally, I interpret them as follows:

D&D/D20 Class Level to Risus Cliché Dice
Level 0 = 1 die
Level 1-2 = 2 dice
Level 3-5 = 3 dice
Level 6-8 = 4 dice
Level 9-11 = 5 dice
Level 12-14 = 6 dice
Level 15-17 = 7 dice (NPC) or 5d8
level 18-20 = 8 dice (NPC) or 6d8

This is because I assume that a level 0 character is an apprentice, a level 1-2 character is a journeyman, and a level 3-5 character is really just hitting their stride in their class. "Masters" (5 dice) would be those characters who used to attract followers and go off to build fortresses. Anything higher and you're talking legendary capability and thus Funky Dice are totally justified.

So, according to the above table, a 5th level Fighter has a Fighter (3) cliché or something similar (I'm all in favor of sexing up cliché names). A character with multiple classes simply has multiple cliches.

Now, given that standard Risus characters begin with 10 dice (with no cliché having more than 4 dice), you can see a little disconnect. Most characters will have too few dice and high level characters will exceed the 4 dice limit for single clichés.

It's all good, though. These clichés that are arrived upon by converting classes do not have to completely define a character. They are the character's "adventuring" clichés; the clichés that are typically used in "fantasy combat". Even "low-level" characters are likely to have a bunch of non-adventuring clichés that can be derived from the character's background. In later versions of D&D/D20, a character's Feats or Skills may give clues to what these other clichés might be.

Also, there is nothing to say that a given class can't be translated into a double-pumped cliché (very appropriate for Vancian spell-casters) or split into similar clichés (of the same level) to produce more combat endurance. Thus, that 5th-Level Fighter might have Knight (3) and Mercenary Captain (3). A 7th-level wizard could be a Wizard [4].

Higher-level characters are little more problematic. Either the 4-dice cap needs to be waived or the character can take a roughly equivalent number of Funky Dice for a given class: a 10th level Thief might become a Thief (4d8).

Race is easy. Simply append a racial (and/or cultural) descriptor to one of the character's clichés. That cliché can then be used for "racial stuff" (like a dwarf's resistance to poison or an elf's ability to notice secret doors).

Ability scores almost don't matter. If a character has unusually high or low ability scores for their class, then these can be noted with an appropriate descriptor on the cliché. If an ability is sufficiently exceptional, it can worked into its own cliché that does not map to the character's class clichés (i.e. Hulking Brute (4) for a character with 18/00 strength). A terrible ability score can even be a Hook.

Spells are handled abstractly but the source material (typically D&D spell lists) should be referred to when describing effects. As a rule of thumb, a character is still limited to spells of a spell level appropriate to their cliché dice (as translated back to D&D). Target Numbers can be set according to the rules for Dramatic Effects in magic (as described in the Risus Companion) or simply defined as 3 plus the D&D spell-level multiplied by 3. A failed roll to cast a spell typically means the spell was not prepared and cannot be attempted again until the character has time to rest and study or pray.

Gear is typically just tools of the trade. Experienced D&D characters most likely have magical items, though. These can be built using the rules for Sidekicks & Shieldmates (for items that team with the character), Questing Dice (for charged items), or a Bonus Die items (trading 1 die for 1 bonus die directly). My rule of thumb is that a +1 in D20/D&D translates to a +1pip bonus dice item (or 1 die cliché for teaming). A +3 item grants a full bonus die (or a 3 dice cliché for teaming). Other items must be converted on an ad hoc basis.

Followers, as individuals or grunt squads, can be purchased using the rules for Sidekicks & Shieldmates.

MONSTERS
Monsters convert much as characters, though earlier editions of D&D and AD&D use Hit Dice rather than levels. Hit Dice don't precisely map to character level when evaluating the threat their pose to player characters. Thus, a slightly revised conversion table is used:

D&D Hit Dice to Risus Cliché Dice
Up to 1-1 = 1 die
1-1 to 1 = 1 to 2 dice (8 to 10 Funky Dice)
1+1 to 2 = 2 dice (12 Funky Dice)
2+1 to 3 = 2 dice (14 Funky Dice)
3+1 to 4 = 2-3 dice (16 Funky Dice)
4+1 to 5 = 3 dice (18 Funky Dice)
etc...

Most monsters have a single cliché . Thus a 4HD Ogre could be an Ogre (2d8). Additional clichés can be added to improve combat endurance and make the encounter more challenging.

For grunt squads, my rule of thumb is that 3 creatures add +=1 dice, 10 creatures add +2 dice, 30 creatures add +3, etc. This can vary tremendously with the situation.


Note: The above conversions guidelines differ from my Risus to D20 conversion that I posted back in 2006. The needs of the conversion work differently when going in the other direction and I've had a lot time to evolve my thinking on the matter.

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No One Escapes From Village 13!

For your daily dose of Risus goodness, Berin Kinsman has the ultimate in "chocolate in my peanut butter". His crazy-brilliant idea is to cross Hogan's Heroes with the Prisoner. Sounds like an amazing Risus one-shot or mini-campaign!

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Mythic Adventures In Risus

This past summer, I purchased the Mythic Game Master Emulator on a lark. While I was enjoying my face-to-face games (including the long running Slaying Solomon), I was feeling frustrated that I wasn't getting in enough gaming and that I wasn't getting enough genre variety. So I started experimenting with solo play. Initially, I tried to use the old-fashioned AD&D random dungeon crawls. Unfortunately, I found this to be unsatisfactory at best. In Robin Laws's taxonomy of roleplayers, I am at least 80% Storyteller. Random dungeon crawls didn't cut it because there could be no story.

Then I read some reviews of Mythic and I was intrigued. Feeling like I didn't need to learn a new system, I purchased the GM Emulator (and eventually Mythic Variations) and sat down to play. After a few false starts, I suddenly hit upon a fantastic and utterly engaging story involving one of my former characters. I couldn't believe how Mythic's simple mechanic (a chart for resolving yes/no questions along with allowances for random events) could so easily tap into my subconscious to produce suprising and exciting stories.

I think the key is that Mythic relies on stimulating the player's own imagination. The player asks questions of the environment and the Mythic gives answers according to the player's own ideas of how probable a yes answer might be (adjusted by the factors that raise or lower tension from scene to scene). Random Events make use of ongoing plot threads and recurring characters and essentially use a couple of words to inspire the player to go with the first thing that pops into their head. I really works.

What does this have to do with Risus?

Well, after buying the Mythic Game Master Emulator, I tried to decide on what system I'd use. Almost immediately, I decided to use Risus. I didn't want to get bogged down in fiddly bits and I definitely didn't want a system that required any sort of tactical complexity. And looking back on the examples of Risus play that I wrote a few years ago (such as here), I realized that Risus is almost a natural for solo play even without help from Mythic. In Risus combat, tactical decisions are mostly just color. After declaring your action, the dice get rolled and it's up to the GM or player to narrate the results.

Mythic is the primary reason I returned to the Risus Monkey. I look forward to posting session logs and advice for really making Risus work for Mythic.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Revisiting the Links Page

Just a quick update while I get back in the habit of blogging: I performed a long-overdo update to the Links page. I removed the sadly broken link to the Risus Jedi Academy and added the essential links to Risus TOTM, Risusiverse, and Uncle Bear.

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Created: 2 December 2005 / Last modified: 5 Feb 2010
Risus: The Anything RPG ©1993-2010 by S. John Ross.
Risus Monkey ©2005-2010 by Tim Ballew.

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