Sunday, April 19, 2015

A&A Playtest 2.0: A Storm at Sea

Storm in the Sea by Pieter Mulier the II

As my layout editor and I are reviewing and revising the Book of Wind I figure it would be a good time to put it through it's paces.  A large number of mechanics in the Book of Wind were not incorporated into the last major playtest as they create a very different setting and exploration cycle.  It also gave us a chance to try out the Grinder method where each player makes three characters sharing the same archetype and attribute off the bat, splitting their equipment, gear and relics between them; this way the GM doesn't have to feel too bad when slaughters a few PC's early on and reminds the players of the lethality of the system.  For last nights game we had:




The Shipwrecked

Cunning Ratmen Adventurers (Guile):  Ikit, Skulk and Queek.
Profession: Junker.  Origin: Termite Cliffs (Earth)
Armory: Daggers, Throwing Knives x6, Cutlass.  AC - Naked bonus
Gear: Dapper Hat, Thieves Tools, Burglars Lantern, Tranq Darts, Venomous Quills, Ninja Skean

Brilliant Storm Acolyte Seekers (Talent): Zeru, Balut and Thanh.
Profession: Cleric/Cultist.  Origin: The Mountain that Meets the Heavens (Wind)
Armory: Sacrificial Knife, Lightning Bolt shaped Javelins x6, Chakrams x6.  AC 7
Relics: Hallowed Bone, Ishtar's Ambrosia.  Gear: Tur Kay's Poultice

Bold and Stylish Gondolamen Fighters (Brave): Hook, Line and Sinker
Profession: Oarsmen/Gondolier.  Origin: Junos 7 (Water)
Armory: Oar, Harpoon x6 (Javelin), Speargun (Crossbow).  Fish Scale Mail (AC 5)
Gear: Silver Oar, Folding Canoe (Gondola), Compass


The Pitch:

Setting: Volcanic Island Chain, Pitch Dark/Riddick rules in effect for above ground Darkness.  Profit and Exploration are the name of the game.
Rogues Gallery:  Expect to see Death Cultists, Rogue Alchemists, Mutant Frogmen, Crab People, Spooky Ghost Ships, Androids and your old nemesis Doc Croctopus.

The party was sailing towards the Earth Civilizations in search of the Everglow.  A new expedition was about to begin and fortune seekers from all around were beginning to muster to find what awaits at the bottom of the soothing green glow.

The Everglow

A rift in the earth that always shines with a calming green light. Denizens of this area have carved out a city near the surface awash in the viridian light. Tools created here tend to retain a portion rift’s light, glowing green in the gloom. Travelers who visit the area find their bodies share this property for a time, while those born here appear to be immune; in fact, the entire city appears to be unaffected by the rampages of disease and pestilence.

Some say a falling star at the bottom of the rift is the source of the bright green radiance, but all expeditions into the area have failed. All that remains of the explorers are shadows burned into the cavern walls.

A whirlpool opened up near their destination, a bad omen so the Ship had to reroute taking them dangerously close to sunset before reaching port.  To make matters worse black sails were spotting in the distance and the Captain gave the call to man their battle stations!

The Ratmen were quite irritated that the Captain couldn't keep passengers safe and retreated into the cabins.  They found a Nobleman who shared their distaste for this barbarism and proceeded to get black out drunk and rob the Nobleman blind; even his pantaloons and pillows were taken.

After a volley of cannonball fire their ship scored a lucky Critical and knocked out the mast of the Pirate Ship, becoming a giant boarding plank to land between the ships.  At this point the pirates stormed across and were met with fierce resistance from the Gondola men.  A large wave struck and a number of people were knocked overboard, Hook was the first to be eaten by a shark.  Zeru Cleric of the Storm God was unhappy the Shark god was getting so many sacrifices and instead attempted to appease the Storm God.  His next Chakram 'accidentally' struck the jugular of a fellow passenger, blinding a pirate in the blood spray and created a mass of storm clouds above.  As the lightning bolt came down it obliterated some pirates, the Captain, the wheel, a black powder barrel and caused the ship to start sinking.

The group split up, the surviving Gondola man took his Gondola and a Storm Cultists and left.  The Rat people and remaining Cultists used their superior Agility to cross the Pirate Ship Mast gangplank onto the crippled pirate ship.  After kicking a number of them overboard they did battle with the Captain where the tricky rats bested him and stole his chest of goods.  The surviving Storm Priest took the drunken ratmen into a lifeboat along with the treasure chest and fled.  Shanks Mcgee, Pirate Captain, promised revenge.

On the lifeboat night fell and by the light of the moon they encountered a Mermaid.  Ikit promised her all the riches he had stolen so far and thus began an underwater romance.  Regrettably he swam the opposite direction of the surface and failed his Save VS Drowning.  Storm Cleric Balut called down more lightning as Drowned Dead approached the boat, giving them the final heave to shore before they were pulled under.  The lifeboat crew made it to shore and followed the campfire to the resting Gondolaman Line and Storm Cultist Zeru.

Thoughts
  • I enjoyed the Grinder method quite a bit, it allowed for my favorite blend of player stupidity and harsh unforgiving world.  
  • The emphasis on detaching level from power worked well as a party of 9 first level characters were able to handle 11 second level Pirates and a Level 5 Captain through quick wits rather than brute force.
  • We're doing limited resources so far, thrown weapon ammunition is very low currently and what treasure they have found has just as quickly been lost due to bad luck and poor decisions.
  • Slimming Attributes down to single ability has made them far easier to remember.
  • Archetype rebalancing has gone fine so far, no one is clearly ahead or behind.
  • Bonus dice VS flat modifiers have been a welcome change.
  • Letting the player's pick the appropriate Save is a minor semantic change but I'm glad we put it in.  Now I get to say Save VS KO, Save VS Deathray, Save VS Rocks falling.