Monday, February 28, 2022

Horse Of Another Timbre, Log 20

    The following is the campaign log for the 20th session of my current Amber Diceless RPG campaign, entitled A Horse Of Another Timbre. 

You might want to Start from Session #1 or check out the index of my Amber articles

Campaign log: 24 May 2021, turn by turn

I don't get around to posting these very often, so I'm nearly a year behind. Details below the fold:

Sunday, February 27, 2022

A Very Confusing Map

This was a piece of artwork I made for my Amber campaign a while back:

It's basically a map of the universe. No, seriously. There's tons of plot points and clues hidden away on it, but the signal to noise ratio isn't great, and there's not much of chance of anyone correctly interpreting any of them. The campaign is still in progress so I'm not likely to spoil it here any time soon.

A Horse Of Another Timbre, Log 19

   The following is the campaign log for the 19th session of my current Amber Diceless RPG campaign, entitled A Horse Of Another Timbre. One of my players keeps a log of the scenes, and another maintains a quote list.  As usual, I have combined them with a few extra notes of my own after the fact.  I post them here several months after... nearly a year later, as I've not been updating this blog... which allows me to add in a few little clarifications without worrying too much about spoiling future plotlines for my players.

You can also Start from Session #1 or check out the index of my Amber articles.

The PCs are:

  •     Dalziel, son of Prince Bleys of Amber. A scientist.
  •     Maarit, daughter of Princess Sand. An orphan with a magic pendulum.
  •     Medore, nonbinary orphan of Princess Dierdre .
  •     Spinturnix, (aka Nix), son of Prince Julian. Grew up in Forest Arden.
  •     David Weyreth is a retired officer from the militaries of Amber.
  •     Abn Haram, the human-shaped son of Lady Nykae of Chaos, and the long-dead Prince Osric of Amber.  

Most of the NPCs are from the novels, such as Fiona, who always seems to know more than she should, and Corwin, whose main schtick is essentially the opposite despite being exceptionally well read.

Some NPCs are unique to this campaign, such as "Blinky" (real name Argos) who is a dragon with extra eyeballs all over his body and is guarding Dworkin's cave: sort of an upgrade from Wixer (the griffon doing the same duty in the books). Bellantine and Armistaud are "Acquisitions Specialists" from a library world called Oberon's Loupe: they may be operating on special instructions from the dead king.

 Campaign log: 10 May 2021, turn by turn

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

1000 Years and very few complaints

These minor complaints about a few weird Prompts in the excellent solitaire journaling RPG Thousand-Year-Old Vampire didn't quite fit into my previous posts about the game. Thousand-Year-Old Vampire is a ton of fun, and these don't really break anything, but they are... minor rough spots that aren't quite up to the slick artistry of the rest of the project.

I noticed that I do sometimes have trouble with prompts that imply a large passage of time. Prompts where an explicit passage of time exists are less troubling for me. If you tell me the story advances 200 years, I can roll with that, and cross out mortals. If instead you just imply maybe it's further into the future now, I'm left wondering if I need to scrap my current plot thread or not.  The one that vexed me the most was Prompt #42, which asks about a piece of contemporary technology that gives you trouble since it's beyond what existed in your mortal life. If your timeline has advanced to the Industrial Revolution during play, then this is a great prompt, but if your character started in the 12th century and you've now moved to the early 14th century, it is really hard to come up with a good answer to that. You're either going to want to jump ahead much further in time, or settle in for a lot of research. There's nothing specific to 12th and 14th C there, feel free to pick any two other centuries about which you know just enough to run a low-pressure one-shot solo game in, but not enough to really differentiate between the tech-levels thereof.  Prompt 42 trips me up every time.

Prompt #54 also gave me headaches, but largely because it's mechanically vague. It says to "convert an old Memory to a new Skill for blending in." I'm just really not sure if that means "add a new Skill to your sheet, and base it on some sort of thematic link to one of your Memories", or if it means you're supposed to erase an entire Memory (including up to 3 Experiences) as well. I don't think 'convert' is defined anywhere in the rules. Zapping an entire Memory will have a major impact on your character an narrative, so I wish the instructions were a little clearer. But like I said, the game is super fun, so in the end I'm okay with having to put on my "GM-as-rules-arbiter Hat" once or twice per game.

I wish the 136 alternate prompts were laid-out in the same format as the original 71 prompts: three linked prompts per page, numbered by the page. There would definitely be value in having an entire second roster (or 3rd roster) of prompts like that. Then you could choose if you were going to play Prompt Roster A, B, or C at the start of the game, or you could swap from one roster to the other if you rolled the same thing too often. Instead, if you feel you've seen a particular page too often and want to use the alternate prompts, you have to roll a d135, and if you then end up on the same page/number in a later turn, there's often no obvious follow-up that builds on the random redirect you used. It feels like a missed opportunity... like they did 85% of the work necessary to make the alternate prompts actually organically usable, and just didn't quite get it across the finish line. If I played the game just a little more often, I'd be tempted to take that project on myself. 

Overall a great game, despite my fussing.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Timeless Undying Love

 As I mentioned the other day, I've now played 4 games of Thousand-Year-Old Vampire, a solitaire journaling RPG, where your character is a Vampire, and game play covers centuries at least. You come up with a brief sketch of a historical figure, and the vampire who converts them into undead, and then the game provides random events that bounce you forward in time. You create a big weirdly-sprawling timeline of experiences and memories, many of which get lost of mutated such that by the end of it your character is grappling with uncertainty or insanity.

Today I'm going to list my full game logs from the 2nd session I ever played of TYOV, which was probably more than a year ago, maybe even from the early parts of the pandemic. I didn't think to put a date on it.

This playthrough was a bit longer than one I posted this weekend, and as I recall it entertained me for several nights of play. As a result of the length, and how that interacts with experiential limits hardwired into the game,  the vampiric main character had a lot more memory issues. They kind of lost all sense of self before the end. Their fragmented timeline runs from pre-Roman Etruria up through an unspecified modern conflict that was probably World War 2. The usual Stoker-and-Hollywood vampire tropes are here, but supplemented by characters inspired by Etruscan Mythology, and some uniquely weird textile-arts and sutured-wings nonsense conjured from my own demented psyche (or, I guess, from the intersection of vampirism with an Etruscan goddess best known for her love of scissors).

Trigger Warning: Again, this is the play log from a horror game about weird vampires. This log will elude to violence, body-horror, sexual predation and literal carnivorous predation. While I don't go into a lot of detail, it does get kind of gory. If you've got a weak stomach, easily-offended sensibilities, or just horror's not your thing, you should turn around now. 

Full game log can be found beneath the fold:

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Cyclopean Viking Vampire Horror

 What follows is the play log from an entire solitaire game of Thousand Year Old Vampire. Sort of a weird fragmented non-linear short story of the unlife of a vampire.

I have played three games of TYOV before this one.  This time, I began the game in pagan Scandinavia, with a young man named Torgny Hjalmerson who dreams of being a successful viking raider like his father was before him. He descends quickly into madness and villainy, and makes especially horrible relationship choices.

There's no default setting for TYOV, so I'm blending Norse Myth, a few standard vampiric themes from elsewhere in folklore and mythology, a bit of the trappings of sensationalized hollywood-style satanism, and some weird new stuff unique to this tale. (Not to mention anachronism and historical inaccuracy.) 

This was a ton of fun, and definitely a game I'd be happy to play again. It also works well as character-building exercise for Vampiric NPCs in other RPGs. (That's actually what I did with 2 of my 3 previous plays of the game.)

Trigger Warning: This is a log from a horror game. There's a good deal of violence in what follows, including mutilation, body-horror, blasphemous devilry, and violence against women. While I don't get overly lurid with the details and everything is kept kind of brief, there's some seriously awful stuff in what follows.  If you've got a queasy stomach or are easily offended, you may want to skip this post entirely. 

Full log follows below the fold: