Thursday, September 2, 2010, 12:32 PM
A few notes:
1.) This is as played by my WOD group.
2.) I’m running a mixed game. The players are as follows:
- Vampires: Gift (Catiff), Adam (Samedi), Trash (Nosferatu)
- Were’s: Brady (Fianna), Boxy (Red Talon - primary form Lupis), Coyote Laughs Out Loud (Nuwisha)
- Mages: Tivona (Verbena), Dr. Niklaus (Son of Ether)
- The Nos and the Red Talon have INT’s of 1. IMHO this makes them harder to engage, but here you have it….
You go about your routine, whatever it may be. It is another uneventful day/night all said and done and you find your solace in the peace that is your haven's as you decide to turn in for your time of rest.
As you dream it's a fitful and restless sleep. You are pulled from one image to the next quickly and violently, never able to get your bearings. First you are standing in a ring watching a performer. The performer turns to you and spits a plume of fire directly at your face. You feel the flames engulf you and you you want to scream you find yourself on the edge of a street. There is a parade. There are floats and people clad in brilliant colors and elaborate masks. As you look closer, you realize the demons and devils you see before you are not costumes at all. One of the demons looks at you, smiles evilly as all of its fellows and the others in the crowd jump on you tearing you limb from limb.
Before the pain has a chance to reach you, you are standing in front of a mirror. The image you see before you is not the face you portray to the world, but rather the beast within. Your true self, no matter how pleasant you try to portray it. The real you in the throws of Rage, in the clasps of the beast, corrupted by the very power you seek to control. You see yourself as you are - a puppet of that which you swear you control. You are the costume. The beast is real.
As your mind recoils from the horror you're presented with, you hear in your mind:
The clan has fallen far. I recall the glory of the Second City and the old gods who walked there. The new faith has corrupted the line of Haqim. I must show them the error of their ways or purge them from among the rafiq. That is the only way to restore honor to the clan.
You awake (screaming or not, covered in sweat or not - that is your call)
Brady rolls out from under a stolen blanket and immediately starts to perform a ritual of clensing. Once complete, he started for Columbus. It was time to move on.
Adam slides out of his morgue drawer a little slower than usual this night. He couldn’t get the images out of his head. The feeling of dread he thought he had long since shaken falls on him again and he decides to set out. “If you want information, you go to a Nos!” he says quietly to himself and slips into the sewers.
Niklaus stumbles out of his Brain Enhancing Device (BED), adjusts his ether goggles from sleep to active and heads over to his workbench. He finds his Dream Phonograph and carefully records his dream. After recording it and playing it back a few times, taking notes and trying to find correlations and significance and finding topics to research.
Tivona wakes shaken but refusing to let it show outwardly. When her mom and “granny” woke, Granny looked at her and “tsked”. “WE have to go shopping Tivvy dear. You’ve a task ahead of you.” Granny placed her hand on Tivvy’s cheek “You should have woken me. I would have helped. Come now.” And the group headed off to Toldeo to do some shopping.
Coyote LOL wakes up in his freight car and tries to figure out what his next move is. The dream seemed less like a dream and more like a vision from Coyote. He centered himself and seeks guidance from his totem:
"Oh wise and mischevious Coyote, what knowledge can you impart on me of the visions in this disturbing dream? As always, I travel where the wind takes me, where you lead me, lead me to where you want me to go great prankster! I am sure that this is where you want me to go to continue my never ending journey to prank the Wrym, but I do not know where to go, nor what these visions mean. I am particularly vexed as to what the last part of this vision showed to me....'The clan has fallen far. I recall the glory of the Second City and the old gods who walked there. Allah and his faith has corrupted the line of Haqim. I must show them the error of their ways or purge them from among the rafiq. That is the only way to restore honor to the clan.' these words are not known to me. Grant me your wisdom, oh great Coyote, and I will do many pranks in your honor!"
The response is traditional Coyote:
Gichi-oodena mookomaanaabik manidoo-biiwaabik gichitwaa-giizhigad aazhawayi`ii Erie. onzaabiwiganibik gichi-oodena, agawaateshin mashkiig waawiindaganezi manoominikeshiinh. biinjijaanzh nandogikendan. Ba-gwekabiitang gichi-nishkaadiziwin. akiiwin ishkwaa-bimaadiziwin jiigew jiigi-zaaga`igan Erie. nakodam! Kachina niimishkodaadiwin daawin zhashaweyaa bakwadin biinishkwaajigan. jiibay maji-manidoo maaji` niningisegizi awiya+g. Ginebig! baapiniziwaagan!
But then the trickster showed he had a serious side:
City of blades and steel has a spectacle of lights and pageantry the likes few shall see. the glass city, the shadow swamp is famous for mud hens. The nose knows. Turn toward the sound and fury. Life and death near the shore by the Lake Erie. Promise to Go. Kachina is dancing in the town square and removes his mask. Dead body devil starts to make people tremble in fear. Snake clan! Beware!
Using this information, LOL starts a trivia game at a bar at the next city. “What city, on Lake Erie, is known as the Glass City?” “Which city is famous for the Mud Hens?” until he finds his destination… Toledo, Oh.
Boxie wakes and sniffs the early morning air. There is a strange scent in the air. The heavy scent is hiding the scent of food. Boxie decides to follow the scent while sniffing for markings and staying away from others territories.
Trash bolted upright in the freezer car, breaking a few boxes and sending things tumbling around. The last words of the dream seemed to echo in the not-dream world which made it think those were the most important. At the next overnight stop Trash departed the train and found some humans huddled together. It asked them of clans and honor and bright costumes. They were no help. For the first time in a long time, trash considered finding others like itself to ask…. Sometimes Trash got lucky
Gift woke up butterfly knife bared against an unseen and fading threat. As she comes to her senses, she realizes she sliced through yet ANOTHER sleeping bag. She rilled her eyes, closes the knife and tucks it down the front of her shirt and reaches around to unzip herself from the bag “I ruin more sleeping bags that way!” she mumbles to herself. Nightmares aren't entirely new to Gift. Her life has been one cursed day after another. While this dream was more vivid, and much more frightening, she thinks nothing of it. She walks over to where she keeps her make-up and paints herself up for another night to feed. There has to be someone out there who deserves to be torn apart.
Monday, August 23, 2010, 8:47 AM
I know I promised to finish the Night at the Carnival line, and I'm going to. It's just been CRAZY busy lately and I've got the opportunity to run it again - the way it was intended - bringing unlikely allies together being able to take off the kiddy gloves, force people to think outside the box and challenge a group of some of the most amazing groups of role players I've had the chance to run with outside of a convention setting.
My problem.... I am hoping that I'm not breaking Wheaton's Law. I already know there is no specific fears that are going to be played upon (yea - phobias will not be making an appearance) but see.... I build this up a very certain way.
When I run this, I push characters buttons. My intent is to drive those characters INSANE with FURY. I want them ANGRY. I want them FURIOUS. I want them INTENT on bringing down the ultimate evil behind the whole thing....
And this time - I don't think it's possible.
Let me explain:
See this time they've made a new group of PC's. I didn't know they'd do this. I figured we'd play with some of the others that we had. Instead, we are running with two mages, three vampires, a werewolf and a werecoyote. All beginning characters
My final baddie - REDICULOUSLY powerful. He is cold, calculating, strategic and not at all egomaniac.
The PC's will be able to take down MOST of the other baddies as a challenge appropriate to them. However, the LT's will be a battle that I expect to down at least one or two of them and ATTACKING the final baddie is a REALLY. BAD. IDEA.
They can still DEAL with him - but the best they can hope to do is get him to leave. After mercilessly pushing their buttons and getting them to want to kill whatever is ultimately responsible for the whole horrible thing.... Does that break Wheaton's Law to not let them kill the big baddie at the end? Or is it enough to get them a chance to meet the ultimate evil they will ultimately have to fight and let them rest with the knowledge that they negotiated his leaving and while they may have lost the battle, the war is far from over?
Friday, June 18, 2010, 8:24 AM
ok, well since yesterday's blog was "Blogger FAIL" by posting hooks before DM/ST backgrounds, I figured I'd fix that today
This can really be up to the DM but here are some of the backgrounds I've used quite successfully in the past:
D&D General Background: "The Night At the Carnival" was inspired by a piece of art I saw on a boxed adventure called "The Night Parade". The Night Parade would steal children (because the members of the parade could not have children themselves) and turn them into members of the parade.
I decided to take this and twist it a few ways - so far, all have been successful
- Forgotten Realms: The Red Wizards of Thay have trading houses and embassy's in almost every major city. They are naturally suspected of many things but no one can ever pin anything on them. When someone looks like they are getting close, "Diplomatic Immunity" becomes a convenient escape card. In one city, a Carnival has been sponsored by The Red Wizards for the inhabitants. Whether or not the Red Wizards know who they invited to town is completely up to the DM. If the DM wants the Red Wizards to have made a deal with devils/demons that's fine. If the players are becoming too obsessed with bringing down this enclave and you want them to be innocent of any crimes then make it so.
- Note, you can change this to the Zhents or any evil group you want to and it would work. If the "big bad guy" is really innocent, then it makes the characters look like jerks and erodes their credibility. We ALL know that a hero isn't a hero without this happening a time or two in their career!
- Generic D&D: It's not uncommon for tired, frustrated parents to make threats to their children. "Just wait until your father gets home!", "Don't make me count to three!" or, in the world of D&D "I wisht the carnival would take you!" Unfortunately, when magic is involved, you have to watch out what you ask for, you may just get it!
- The carnival can be innocent and merely "carrying out the wishes of the parents" who summoned them
- This puts the players in a nice moral dilemma. If the carnival is not evil, can you destroy the tool and leave the intent (the parents) alive?
- The carnival can be truly evil
- This will let the players kill until their hearts content
World of Darkness Backgrounds
In the World Of Darkness, I've only come up with two (both for the adventure that I'm going to run in a few weeks) and I ended up liking the second one much better (because I love the intrigue) but I leave them both here for your perusal.
- A Methusula is running the carnival and is trying to collect the various items that will eventually free him from torpor (the freakshow). The Prince of the City is not ignorant of the power that a Methusula could bring, either through an alliance or through diablorization. The Prince is also not ignorant of the danger inherent in having a methusula in the city or in attempting to get to it and overpower it - enter the group of expendable resources
- The party can fight to and kill the methusula
- The party can beat the carnival down and convince the methusula that working with the shadow council is in his best interest
- The party can convince the carnival that the city is a BAD place for it to be.
- The party vamps can diablorize the methusula for themselves
- The party can help the Methusula gain the last item it needs so it can be freed (possibly gaining it's favor)
- Eroding power structure of the city
- The power structure of the city is eroding and no one knows why. It's gotten worse since the carnival arrived. Any power/organization structures the PC's have is affected. People they believed incorruptible are turning on them. The Shadow Council is not immune and something MUST be done. The source of the corruption has been traced to the Carnival - and the Twin Settites that run it (twins can be identical or fraternal. I'm using a brother/sister pair so they are two sides of the same coin. However, the sister is the militant one and the brother is the suave one)
- Prince wants Settites for The heart of Darkness ritual.
- Party needs to return with the Settite Alive so the Prince can have the ritual done
- This one is best if the party is currently on the wrong side of the prince and the shadow council.
- The other options as listed above are also available to the PC's
Thursday, June 17, 2010, 7:15 AM
Because this mod can get twisted and dark really fat, I wanted to make the hook fun and a bit of a jab at the traditional RPGA module hooks. We (those of us who played back in the Living City days) used to joke that there were only 4 hooks for a module in RPGA. So I decided to use them all :D It caused many chuckles around the table.
My intent was to create a situation where the characters really had nothing better to do than spend the evening at the carnival.
*OLD RPGA HOOKS*
- Messenger approaches another group near the party
- Combat in a side street that another group quickly dispatches
- An Adventuring party quickly exits a bar and quickly moves toward their next adventure
- The party can look to it's contacts within the city and hear the rumors of the normal levels of crime have dropped DRAMATICALLY and the number of indigents have almost dropped to zero since the carnival came to town
(I've used all of these - one right after another - it made the partly laugh because the "traditional" hooks were in use... and seriously, after 2 or so years of the SAME. FOUR. HOOKS. it gets kinda old)
*OTHER POSSIBLE HOOKS*
If you are thinking about running the adventure for a home group or a group that normally adventures together
- If there is a nemesis to the party (preferably a political one) they can be the one who is sponsoring the carnival for the city. If spun properly, the party will be CERTAIN that there is something wrong with the carnival. Whether or not the nemesis *knew* what was happening inside the carnival is up to you. (when I ran it, they did not - which irritated the HECK out of the party )
- There is a old habit of frustrated parents to tell unruly children "you'd better behave or the Carnival would come take you away" Unbeknown to parents, this actually has a chance of summoning the carnival who is "simply doing what we were requested to do". (this hook has the unique ability to force the players into an ethical dilemma. The carnival is not evil, they are simply providing a service)
*WHITE WOLF HOOKS*
WE have an interesting WW game where we have mages, vampires and werewolves in the party. We're seen as something of an abomination to the Shadow, but we happen to be damn useful to it... so they haven't killed us yet.
- Prince of the City can approach one of the group members (or the group as a whole) and ask them to perform a "task" for him. To what benefit is up to the ST and group to negotiate. (Our group happens to be in a bit of hot water so "forgetting" their latest transgression" might be enough to garner the groups ready assistance)
- Werewolves can find out through the pack that a great "taint" is in the area (Also, if there are players with contacts in the pack society that would work too)
- mage hook: This depends on the mage and I've not really fleshed out a generic hook. One of our PC's is a member of a Troupe not unlike Circ de Soleil so this group is of interest to her.
GHA! Now I've gotten to the end and realized I've not posted the Backgrounds yet!! I'll do that next!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010, 8:30 AM
I promised I would post Night at the Carnival, and I will. I REALLY want to get it out there. Everyone I've run it for has enjoyed it. Players have been uncomfortable. Characters have been put in moral dilemma's. Characters have been permanently changed. Players and characters have pushed and spent insane amounts of resources to "win" the scenario.
That being said, I'm posting this warning first. This adventure is DARK. It is INTENDED to push buttons, make people uncomfortable, force moral dilemmas and push people outside their comfort levels.
So, with that in mind, I post these warnings:
- Remember - Gaming is supposed to be FUN. This means fun for the players and the DM/GM/ST. Remember Wheaton's Law. If your players are not on board with the type of darkness and discomfort this adventure seeks to bring to the table either don't run it or modify it to suit your tastes and those of your players.
- This adventure is 100% scalable. When I post it, I'll post the hook ideas (for the various game systems I've run it in). I'll post the backgrounds that I came up with. The encounters (I'll warn you now, the freakshow is the MOST uncomfortable part and is normally where I push players buttons the most)
- This module is best run with players/characters you know. You can tailor the freakshow to those players/characters (remembering Wheaton's Law of course). You know what makes those characters tick and what will push their buttons or set them off. CAVEAT: If you have a player with a legitimate phobia, don't be a jerk. Seriously. Just don't do it.
- Different Players have different tolerance levels. I wrote this for as dark as I would be comfortable running. It does not drop into any intimate area's, but it does contain the darkest imagery I felt comfortable putting into a game. (I'll admit to the D&D version being SIGNIFICANTLY more tame than the WW version). If your players can go darker, GREAT. If they can't - modify. modify. modify.
ok, so, as soon as I get a free moment, I'll post the backgrounds for the worlds I've used and the hooks. Then I'll move into the encounters and different carnival members. If I time ir right, I hope to have the whole thing done in the next week!
Keep me honest! Follow up with me and make sure I'm posting if you are interested in reading/running/playing.
Friday, May 7, 2010, 9:34 AM
So, let me start off saying I’m REALLY TIRED of seeing my pastime and hobby trashed. I mean, the stereotypes (inaccurate as most stereotypes are) are a bit more tolerable, seeing us branded as some type of antisocial, disgruntled, socially stunted rejects that think murder is justifiable if we just “cast heal” really pushes my buttons. So I decided to gather a few of the things that I use EVERYDAY that I learned from gaming, and tip my hat to those that I think I could still learn a thing or two from.
- Critical Thinking
- Let me start off by saying I’m going to ruffle some D&D players feathers on this one, but your time will come – seriously. Do you know they TEACH Critical Thinking in college? You can pay $150/cr hour to be taught what people could pick up by playing Magic: The Gathering (or plenty of other games, I just think Magic players do it best).
- Let me justify my impressions on this one as I’m STILL in AWE at the Magic Players critical thinking skills. When I first looked at Magic, I looked at it as a TCG, nothing big, learn the cards, make a deck and play. But no! Not to a Magic player. That’s not it at ALL! It’s not enough to know the cards. That’s just a part of it. You have to know the META-GAME too! *mind explosion*
- It’s not enough to build your deck. Not in Magic. You have to be aware of the arena in which you are playing. What is popular? What are the “sleeper” decks? What’s on the rise? What was popular two or three sets ago? Is there anything that will bring those into resurgence?
- This is what they mean when they say “critical thinking” in a business sense. It’s not enough to know the cards you are holding. You need to know the business environment in which you are playing. What is on the upswing? How can you leverage that? How can you neutralize threats when they arrive? Is it ok to start a clock and “get around to it” or do you need to remove the threat immediately?
- To this day, I think Magic players are some of the best critical thinkers I’ve met, and I still have a lot to learn from them.
- Out of the Box Thinking
- Ok D&D Players , here’s your chance to shine. There are three answers to *every* situation –The DM’s way, the players way and the ultra cool way that no one thought of but when it comes up it’s just too AWESOME that it has to work and we laugh about it for HOURS afterwards.
- I really think D&D players have this one NAILED. I have been at more tables where we have looked at a player in sheer astonishment and asked “Where do you come up with this stuff?” it’s awesome. As a DM I love being challenged by that situation because it makes the game more fun for everyone.
- I’ve been at tables where a player has said “I cast invisibility on the door” *blink blink* You can DO that? Sure can! Right there in the rules. The ability to stop and look at a situation in a completely different way and come up with an innovative solution to a problem that most people would overlook is something I learned from playing D&D. I still have a lot to learn from them
- This is something I’ve learned from computer, console and tabletop gaming. You can’t plan for EVERY eventuality, but you CAN prepare for as many of them as possible. Magic has a sideboard. D&D characters can carry their gear. In Monopoly, I play with a side stash of 10% of my liquid assets (hey! It makes sense! You never know when a deal would present itself!). In MMO’s (and console games) I always have healing items on hand.
- If you plan appropriately you minimize the chance to be caught off guard. In the event you ARE caught by surprise, you have the tools at your disposal to think creatively, think outside the box and react swiftly and definitively. I use this skill almost every day. I look ahead at what will be coming 6 months, 12 months and 18 months down the road. (I’m only front line management so I don’t have to play 5 years – but it doesn’t mean I don’t think about it)
- Anyone who’s played a tabletop game or a TCG knows exactly how transformative these games can be on the younger players vocabulary and math skills. I know that Magic R&D have written an article or two about the more obscure words that show up on Magic cards from time to time (wonder when they will do a Zaftig card.) D&D, GURPS, WoD and some of the other games really challenge basic math skills and force players to be able to do calculations quickly and correctly. I know kids who were only allowed to keep playing table top RPG’s because they effectively “tutored” the kids in subjects they were doing poorly in.
There are some more, but this is already a pretty verbose post and I don’t want to bore the beejeebus out of people. Feel free to comment and add other things that you’ve learned around the gaming table!
Monday, May 3, 2010, 12:48 PM
I plan to do a few things with this blog
- I plan to post the update to the module that I wrote all those years ago "Night at the Carnival" I'll try and make it generic so it can be dropped into any world but also give the DM's some ideas behind my thinking and hopefully feed their own imagination
- Post my ideas and ramblings. I have interesting discussions with people and sometimes the stories are funny enough to share.
- Post other module/skirmish/side trec stuff. I don't run games nearly enough and I need an outlet for the crazy crap I come up with - so I'll likely post it here.
Don't look for daily updates or anything. I don't think I'll be able to post that often (and even if I could, I'm pretty sure you guys wouldn't be interested in what I talk about. It's often not gaming related). But I'll definitely shoot for weekly