Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Avatars & Annihilation Playtest: Chasing the Comet Introduction

Cancun, August 13, 2010
Sunday was the first exceptionally large (7 of 9 players showed) playtest.  As you can imagine we had a blast.  As you can imagine, herding seven cats left me particularly drained.  Teaching a new system and being a rulebook, monster manual, arbiter and referee certainly compounded that.  At the end of the day I've decided to split the party into groups with two distinct playstyles: Murder Hobos and Good Samaritans.  They will operate in the same world but with diverging timelines after encountering Eien, the great grey cat unstuck from time.

People trickled in that morning and most arrived in time for lunch.  Ravioli (Spinachi & Ricotta, Pumpkin Butternut Squash, & Goat Cheese Sundried Tomato) in a brown butter Sage sauce with mushrooms, garlic and walnuts.  Served with a side of cucumber, tomato, paprika cheese salad and some pineapple for desert.  People were combing through rules and struggling with character creation during and after lunch.  Character creation is a rather simple business once you do it but when your thrown them into the deep end of the pool without guidance it's another matter entirely.  This made me realize that there are still quite a few areas that need cleaner text to make it an easier read through.  After walking them through creation and leaving out most optional modules people settled into their character concepts very quickly.

I had initially planned on lumping them into a "everybody knows each other" expedition and throw them in the path of the dungeon.  Instead I opted to give the players an idea of the town they were leaving, a night of revelry before the comet streaked overhead.  Everyone was given a chance to meet each other or observe the antics of fellow players and it gave everyone a chance to develop an established persona.
Orvar the Lawman broke up a dice game and walked past Pemba the Thief Acrobat who was tailing a dapper mark he observed during a juggling act.  Shepherd Bookbinder, on the lookout for sales, encountered an emporium severely lacking in customers where he begrudgingly partook of some colored magical smoke that attuned him to the flow of mana in the world but opted not to buy anything .  Fred the Smith challenged his fellow smiths to an intense drinking competition which he trounced them in.  Stanley Wift, began his noodle delivery to the mad wizards tower while Denna the Scout was the first to notice the silvery trail of the comet overhead as she ascended on high for a better look.

Geminid Meteor

The revelry of the night peaked with the shooting star.  It was a very lucky occurrence or so they thought.  Stanley noticed his scroll of Chronomancy flared to life in his backpack as Edgar's Extended Intermission cast itself and remained in effect for four times its standard length while the comet was in sight.  Denna's birds eye vantage allowed her to watch the comet which veered slightly before it disappeared over the horizon.  Suddenly a bright white flash overtook the horizon, stunning most observers, only Denna was able to see the shape with non-euclidean geometry within the afterglow and ever since there has been a nibbling in the back of her mind.

Non-Euclidean Geometry by l2ebis

S. Wift intent on finishing his delivery and remaining as punctual as ever approached the mad wizards tower but unfortunately no one was home.  Desiring not to be late he attempted to put a note on the nearest wall only to stumble through into the Magicians smoke room.  A lit cigarette lay on the table and a glowing glyph slowly faded in the corner.  As he dropped off the food to leave he ran smack into the once passable wall.  A voice called out beckoning him upstairs.  Moving through the jungle room upstairs he could not locate the voice which in turn played more tricks on him, eventually revealing itself to be a bright orange bird with a passion for mimicry of its master (or captor).  After some dialogue the bird promised to free Stanley from the tower if Stanley would free him from his binding, pecking at the gold band around his talon.  Stanley discovered an invisible heavy chain attached to the gold band which he climbed into the jungle below.  He discovered a gargantuan anchor, buoyant in a lake too small for it with ice spirits floating in its waters.  The anchor was quite light but he lacked the strength to drag it out so he dived in and pushed it to the shore.  Unfortunately, the Ice spirits clung to him and sapped his warmth and strength but he managed to persevere and make it to shore.  After the anchor was freed from its focal point of water it suddenly surged into the air.  Fiery pinions floated down as Stanley was pulled into the sky by a massive fire bird with plumage of orange, purple and green; a Chaos Roc.  Holding true to it's word the Chaos Roc deposited Stanley at his work place, the kit and caboodle of noodle before saying farewell (and lighting a few neighboring houses on fire).  Stanley asked for no thanks but only a name, Canopus, said the Chaos Roc and soon he was gone leaving a few of his pinions behind and a stunned populace.

Chaos Roc, MM2 (3.0)

Meanwhile, the aftershock hit and knocked most of the revelers off their feet.  Denna managed to avoid falling off a rooftop while Pemba was knocked flat with a pouch full of stolen coins that spilled into the street and a number of juggling tomatoes smashed into his shirt.  The dappered gent challenged him to a duel swinging his cane wildly but Pemba turned tail and ran without a second thought.  The remaining party members headed into the center of town where Theodore Cedric, local wealthy academic impassioned the populace about the find of a lifetime, an actual fallen star.  He offered a 100 gold reward from his own coffers to whoever reached and returned from the crater first and promised more bounties for evidence and curiosities brought back.  More money than anyone would earn in their lifetime.  He encouraged the locals to file the paperwork and form their own explorer's guild and meet out his request.

Emperor Farrukhsiyar

Four of the local guild masters were in attendance, Archibald the Luxurious who travels only by Palanquin. Youjiro the Silent, foreigner with impeccable fashion sense but never a word for anyone; Loose Legs ConBa known for surviving every expedition but usually leaving his assembled team behind and lastly Anaheim the Industrious, Clockwork artificer that works for the highest bidder.  A newcomer strolled onto the scene, Tiamult the Gardener who had witnessed flowers uproot themselves and walk away as the comet passed overhead.  Resembling a flux capacitor inventor he proclaimed the end is night and that they must heed the warning and reach the crash site to understand the mysteries of the universe.  Moved by this crazed old man's magnetism a number of the local populace (see also: red shirts) signed up as well as the players around the table.  Thus was "The OtherWordly (TOW) Company" formed.

Playtest Report:
the introduction was essential for familiarizing them with the system before throwing them into a combat.  In addition to forming their personalities and introducing them to ways of gaining experience through roleplaying a consistent and diverse personality and engaging in trial and tribulation. Fred and Denna became familiar with saving throws by avoiding alcohol poisoning and rooftop tumbling respectively.  Orvar learned that stopping a fight before it's begun with applicable etiquette can yield experience without need for undue harm and Pemba discovered how to [Disengage] before receiving a right proper thrashing.  A number of issues popped up but those will be discussed in the follow up post with the parties journey to the crash site.

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