Part-Time Gods by Third Eye Games

“Part-Time Gods” by Eloy Lasanta, a Third Eye Games RPG

Disclosure: Third Eye Games put out a call for reviewers, and I responded.  Eloy Lasanta, of Third Eye Games, graciously provided me with a PDF copy of Part-Time Gods. Here is my review.

Part-Time Gods is a successfully funded Kickstart project.  Completed on June 13th, 2011, there were even physical copies of Part-Time Gods being sold at GenCon 2011.  I hadn’t heard of the game until GenCon, and truth be told, it slipped from my radar until Third Eye Games solicited invitations for reviews of their products.

The Kickstarter page for Part-Time Gods provides an excellent “elevator pitch”:

Players will take on the role of normal, everyday people suddenly imbued with the divine Spark of a god. They must balance their mortal lives (friend, family, loved ones) with the pursuit of their godly existence (adventure, power, legend), constantly riding the line of losing what makes them human.

Diving In — Chapter by Chapter Summary

Introduction

A setting, mood, and Theologies — the secret societies of the gods — summary kicks off Part-Time Gods with promises of mystery and struggle.  There is also an overview of what is a role-playing game and how to use the book followed by a quick example encounter.

The rules system is rather straight forward: Roll a d20 and add the appropriate modifiers. Compare the results against the difficulty.  For each 5 points above the stated difficulty, the player receives a boost which they can use to deal additional damage, effect additional targets, provide additional information, add stylistic flair, or complete the task faster.

Most rolls are modified by a single stat, a skill rank, situational modifiers, and any spent stamina or divine sparks.  Stats and skills ranks range from 1 to 10.

The Coming Storm

This chapter provides a system agnostic background for the game.  The origin of godly power, named the Source, was discovered by proto-humans.  The Source deified worthy and exceptional humans creating the early gods (i.e. Zeus, Coyote, Demeter, Thor, Vishnu, etc.).  Eventually the gods of all the world’s pantheons imprisoned the Source.

Then came the God Wars, when the gods realized they were no longer immune to harm.  Deicide became common, and over the eons, the powers of the gods waned, and the gods dwindled in number.  Then, on June 13th, 2011, the world shook and new gods rose, imbued with the divine spark.

This chapter includes information on the formation of new gods, their dominion, territory, possible pantheon, theology, and worshippers.

We also see the introduction of the Outsiders — the monsters of legend (i.e. the minotaur, the gorgon, satyrs).  They are also progeny of the Source, and while not gods, are imbued with the divine spark.

Theologies

Theologies are secret cabals of like-minded gods.  They are always on the lookout for new members, actively recruiting newly formed gods.  Below is the list of Theologies and their brief descriptions from page 3 of the Introduction.  Each Theology has aliases, stereotypes, history, lifestyle, roles, game system modifiers, gifts, drawbacks, and their take on the other Theologies.

  • Ascendants: Gods who look to become as powerful as the old gods.
  • Cult of the Saints: Gods who believe themselves to be messengers from Heaven – they hear voices.
  • Drifting Kingdoms: Nomadic gods who build powerful domains, simply to leave them behind to build the next.
  • Masks of Jana: Gods who hide the existence of magic from the world, hoping not to lose themselves in the process.
  • Order of Meskhenet: Gods who look to the past for their power and survive through aristocratic-type families.
  • Phoenix Society: Gods who guide humanity to greatness through direct and intimate interaction.
  • Puck-Eaters: Gods who learn to draw power from chaos and ingesting the flesh of another.
  • Warlock’s Fate: Gods who seek the answers to the universe, but rely too heavily on their Relics.

Building Blocks

Here Part-Time Gods breaks down the components of a character and delves into the mechanics of the game:

  • Occupations: Defines your characters wealth, bonus modifiers, and background points for tweaking your character.
  • Bonds: How your god ties into humanity.  Either with an individual, a group, or a place. More on this later.
  • Attributes: Power, Agility, Vigor, Intellect, Insight, and Charm
  • Skills: What is your character good at?  All the standard fair for a modern setting.
  • Gifts/Drawbacks: Mold your character with cerebral, physical, social, and divine gifts and/or drawbacks.
  • Health: How much physical punishment they can sustain? A composite stat — Power + Vigor.
  • Movement: How fast does your character move? A composite stat — Power + Agility.
  • Stamina: How hard can you push your character?  A composite stat — (Insight + Vigor)/2.
  • Spark: How much divinity flows through your character? The higher the rating, the less human the character.
  • Experience Points: Used to purchase character improvements and advance divine spark.

Divine Powers

This chapter provides a quick outline on what being a god means. Each god:

  • Can detect, at a limited range, any divinely infused creatures.
  • Can expand their territory, which hinders other non-allied gods from manifesting powers.
  • Can absorb another god’s essence, though not without risk.
  • Gains 2 entitlements, special powers chosen at character creation (i.e. beast tongue, energy deflection, healing hands, lucky, etc.).

The Divine Powers chapter details mythical relics and how to attune to, use and created them.  Relics have different power ranks associated with them.  There are a couple of examples for each of the 5 ranks of relics.

The chapter includes excellent advice for defining a god’s domain, that is to say what they have power over: Bestial, Conceptual, Elemental, Emotional, Patrons, Tangible, or a Crossover domain.  There is also discussion about broad domains vs. specific; Are you the God of Baking or the God of Biscuits?

Manifestations

Similar to mundane skills, manifestation skills define how a god manipulates the environment as it relates to their domain.  The manifestation skills are: Aegis, Beckon, Journey, Minion, Puppetry, Oracle, Ruin, and Shaping.  Each of these manifestation skills have different maneuvers.  Wilbur the God of Horses could use his manifestation skill in Beckon to summon a horse spirit; Or Puppetry to manipulate a horse.

Gear and Combat

As is standard fare for most role-playing games, we have a list of gear — shotguns, cars, swords, etc. Money is omitted from the game, instead deferring to the wealth rating of the character’s profession.

Combat is broken down into five steps:

  1. Roll initiative to see who goes first
  2. Attacker chooses a maneuver
  3. Defender chooses a maneuver
  4. Both attacker and defender roll 1d20 + Attribute + Skill + Modifier. Highest roll wins. Tie goes to the defender.
  5. Apply damage.

Each turn, a character declares one attacking maneuver.  The character may also respond with one reaction maneuver per turn (i.e. a defensive maneuver).  There are plenty of maneuvers to choose from. The action maneuvers are: light strike, full strike, strong strike, gunshot, knockback, notch and fire a bow, pain strike, sweep, tackle, throw weapon, touch, use manifestation skill, and use standard skill.

Given that each character may only declare one reaction maneuver, battles that are two or more against one strongly favor the multitude — An attacker needs only get a modified 10 on their attack roll to get a hit on a defender who has already spent his reactive maneuver.

Characters may spend Stamina to split action in combat and gain multiple offensive actions; Each of the character’s action then gains a penalty.

The variety of maneuvers and the ability to split actions at a cost create rich tactical combat options.

Antagonists

A bestiary of animals, mortals, divinely touched, pucks, spirits and giants.  Very helpful for providing a relative power-base of adversaries.

Storytelling

The chapter provides assistance for crafting scenarios, with a discussion about setting the right mood that is dramatic, comedic, and full of action.

Part-Time Gods provides a list of inspiration: “Dead Like Me”, “American God’s” (and other works by Neil Gaiman), “Percy Jackson and the Olympians”, and comics (such as Spider-Man and Superman).  For me, this is a key component, to not only help in steering the game sessions, but to also highlight the intended kinds of sessions and campaigns for which the game system.

The Storytelling chapter provides advice for developing stories, grouping the story hooks into Initiations, Personal Struggles, God vs. God, and God vs. the Coming Storm.  By providing this information, Part-Time Gods is staking out its territory in the types of stories it can best tell.

The GM advice section is short but packs a punch, laying out five key points for running a successful game.

  1. Have Fun!
  2. The Characters Are the Story
  3. Don’t Control Everything
  4. Involve Bonds, Involve Everyone
  5. Be Descriptive, Not Definitive

Regardless of system or setting, the five points of GM advice are always applicable and Part-Time Gods nails it!

If the GM isn’t having fun, no one is.  By focusing on the characters, the GM is validates the participation of the players.  By not controlling everything, the GM is letting the players be active participants in the emerging story.  By involving a character’s bond, the GM is letting the players know that as the GM, he is listening to the players and what is important.  And finally, by saying “you see a little green man with sharpened teeth” you are leaving the story open to Martians, goblins, moss-covered carnivores, or chronically queasy men with strange orthodontic rituals.

What I Liked

The rules system is very straight forward to understand.  The rolls are quite simple, and a player can spend stamina or divine spark to give a boost to their endeavors.

Bonds, Passions, and Failings

I love the Bonds, Passions, and Failings sub-system.  A Bond is an association with an individual, group or location.  Each bond is further defined by an associated passion (e.g. approval, charity, joy, rival, etc.). A bond provides a mechanical bonus and liability for every character.

When incorporating a bond into the story, a character gains a bonus to relevant checks and may gain additional XP.

A character can also lose bonds and gain a failing (e.g. cowardice, envy, self-destruction, etc.).  The game asks players to incorporate their failings into decisions, but are not mechanically required to do so. The GM can, however, compel the character to follow his failing.  The compulsion can be resisted, but is harder the higher the failing’s rank.

Characters can also gain additional XP by incorporating their Failings into the session.

Stamina

Stamina provides rules for allowing a player to push their character.  If you want your character to dig deeper, spend stamina to do extra damage, run longer, split combat actions, resist pain, and push a skill harder.

Divine Spark

A character’s Spark rating defines a character’s divine strength. The closer to rank 1 the more human the god, the closer to rank 10 the more powerful the god and less attached to their humanity.  A god may only have 10 – Spark ranks worth of Bonds.

Similar to Stamina, Divine Spark can be spent to push a character; Either adding damage, activating entitlements, healing wounds, augmenting manifestations, adding a bonus to a skill, and most importantly resisting other god’s manifestations.  In fact if a character does not have any remaining spark, they are powerless to withstand magical attacks.

Example Characters

I also appreciated that there were several example characters for each Theology as well as a motley of example characters in the Storytelling chapter.  This not only gives a sense of how the pieces come together, but also provides some quick NPCs.

Puck-Eaters

Puck-Eaters consume the essence of their foes.  A Puck-Eater gains temporary bonuses from the antagonists. Each antagonist have a “Payoff” to indicate what a Puck-Eater gains when they consume the antagonist.  This ranges from gaining bonuses to various skills to manifestation resistance to gaining one of the opponent’s powers.  The duration of these payoffs eventually fade away.  It is a gruesome reminder that which makes someone unique or divine can feed the power-hungry.

What I’m on the Fence About

There are lots of combat maneuvers to choose from.  Too many decision points during combat, in my experience, inevitably slows down the combat resolution.

There are drawbacks which give additional points during character creation.  Balancing drawbacks is a tricky, and again in my experience, all to problematic mechanism.  Is Illiterate really a drawback?  Or what about No Sense of Smell?  These kinds of drawbacks are easily abused or never see the light of day.

What I Didn’t Like

I found the Introduction and The Coming Storm chapters a little difficult to work through.  The ideas of these sections are great but the writing in this section is weak compared to the writing of the more mechanical sections.

There is a stated theme of “unlocking secrets”, but that theme does not appear to be part of the rules system.  I suppose one could argue that using XP to advance a character’s powers could be construed as unlocking secrets.

Throughout the text there are statements that imply something is mechanically enforced, but is not necessarily the case.  For example the following is from page 70:

Without strong Bonds, the character lacks goals or focus outside of hatred and fear, which can grant power at a supreme cost.

A god’s Spark rating limits the number of bonds, but there doesn’t seem to be a mechanical effect of having all of a character’s bonds reduced to 0.  Yes they pick up Failings, but even those failings are mineable for XP.

Would it make sense to rule that a character with no bonds above rank 0 be removed from play?  At the end of the session?  Or has one more session to establish a new bond?

Would I Play Part-Time Gods?

Absolutely. The rules system is immediately accessible and the subject matter is rather interesting; Who wouldn’t want to try playing Gary the God of RPGs?  Certainly the Bonds, Passions, and Failings system provides ample hooks for long-term play, arming a savvy GM with plenty of fodder for the story.  This is one element of the system that I’d consider lifting and grafting onto other games.

Would I Run Part-Time Gods?

Unlikely. While I feel the system is well thought out and I enjoy the work of Neil Gaiman, I’m not as interested in running games in that vein.

Where To Buy

Third Eye Games online store: http://store.thirdeyegames.net/

Never Split the Party – Worst Duel of Wits Compromise Ever

Continuing the session #4 recap of the Butcher, the Baker, and the Candlestick Maker.

Stranger in a Strange Land

The characters made it to the village outside the monastery, and attempted to circle up someone who would know anything about the monastery.  We failed, and didn’t circle anyone up.  We did, however, find out that an uproariously drunk dwarf had ransacked the inn.  We then went on toward the monastery without any additional information.

As we drew closer to the monastery, it became clear that it was under attack.  Margaret quickly consulted the stars and divined that her sister was alive, but no longer at the monastery.  Throwing caution to the wind, we quickly ventured into the monastery and determined that a rather nasty battle had occurred and there were many unwanted summonings.

We made a hasty retreat, and followed the dwarf’s trail.  Eventually Margaret again consulted the stars and found that the dwarf was taking their sister back to her home — the place from which we all departed from in session #2.

COMMENTARY

If I were at the helm, and my PCs had snuck into a foreign land and failed a circles test, I clearly would’ve invoked the Enmity clause.  The opportunity is simply too good to pass up.

I was disappointed about Margaret’s Astrology test before the characters went into the monastery.  Margaret’s question was “Is Julia alive and in the monastery?”  The response Margaret got was she’s alive but not in the monastery.  Margaret rocked the test with 6 successes, 2 successes over the obstacle, and felt Margaret should’ve gotten more information.

My disappointment ties into the idea that the odds of unconditional success are small compared to the likelihood of failure (i.e. B5 vs. Ob 4).  So in the case of “critical success”, I feel that the response should be above and beyond the stated intent.

It also feels as though the past two sessions and the reason for our character’s trip to the monastery has been narratively invalidated.  The characters don’t have enough leads concerning the dwarf nor why he would be returning Julie to her home.  So instead they will trust in the divinations and go after their missing brother.

On the Road Again – Duel of Wits

Towards the end of the session, the characters began arguing about where to go next.  Chase and Walt felt that they needed to report to their superiors.  Margaret and Peter wanted to push on and rescue Ryan.  They were all at an impasse.  So we quickly called on a Duel of Wits.

Chase: All of us need to go to the neighboring village’s military station so Walt and Chase can report. It will only take 2 days.

Margaret and Peter: Ryan can’t wait!  We need to head out immediately.  Walt and Chase can send a letter or something.

Duel of Wits: Chase and Walt vs. Margaret and Peter
Chase (All exchanges) Margaret (Odd) and Peter (Even)
Volley Action Disposition Action Disposition
1 Obfuscate (failure) 6 Avoid (success) 7
2 Point 6 5 Point 7
3 Point 5 4 Point 7 6
4 Obfuscate (success) 4 Incite (failure) 6
5 Point 4 Avoid 6 4
6 Point 4 Point 4 3
7 Obfuscate (failure) 4 3 Point (success) 3
8 Point 3 1 Dismiss 3 1
9 Point 1 Incite Hesitate 1 0

Commentary

Here we have a family arguing, falling into their routines.  The argument is kicked-off by both parties circumventing the topic at hand.

There is the wonderful moment when Peter attempts to incite Chase, and Margaret follows up with an avoid.  Margaret has seen Peter attempt to bully Chase before, and knows it just isn’t going to work.

Desired tests dictated most of the Duel of Wits actions for our characters.  As a result of this Duel of Wits, Margaret advanced her Will to B5, Falsehood to B3, and Ugly Truth to B3 (each one needed one test).  She also got another test for opening Persuasion and Rhetoric. And we had a quite hideous compromise.

Compromise for Duel of Wits

Since both sides were arguing for not splitting the party, we decided the best compromise would be “Walt and Chase will report to their military supervisors and Margaret and Peter will take the wagons two days ahead and wait for Walt and Chase.”

Though the argument was among family members and “safe”, the compromise was horrific for all involved.  We were going to split up even though that went against many of our core beliefs of protecting our family.

Inn Witch They Pig Out

This past Sunday, we played our fourth session of the Butcher, the Baker, and the Candlestick Maker.  I had a blast but wanted to break down what I feel were the important scenes of the session.  This is part #1 of the session report.

Inn Witch They Pig Out

That first night, Margaret convinced the others that they should leave early in the morning and leave the old man behind.  Everyone reluctantly agreed, and early in the morning they were getting ready to leave when guards from the capital accosted them saying that Margaret and Chase were wanted for questioning by the head inquisitor in the capital.

Margaret wanted to stall, so insisted she left something behind upstairs and needed to get it.  Two guards were going to go along, but Chase insisted that his sister not be left alone.  So they went up to the room, and looked around, but the guards were getting frustrated at Margaret. Meanwhile, Walt and Peter were unsaddling the guards’ horses and having the stable boy take them out to pasture.

Chase convinced them that it might be in the old mans room — a room full of chicken feathers.  The guards reluctantly agreed, and in the room Margaret’s thoughts turned to the black glove — She didn’t know what it did other than “drain things.”  She put it on, and vanished.

Chase freaked out and the guards immediately drew steel and ushered him outside.  Margaret, meanwhile, went out to the stables and was going to cast Phantasmagoria.  As the guards came outside, Peter drew his wand and “grabbed” three of the five swords away from the guard.

Peter from atop the wagon in a meek voice, attempted to intimidate the guards into backing down.  They would have none of it.  At that point, Chase, took off running, easily beating his captors.  Peter set the wagon in motion, and Walt successfully repelled on of the guardsman who attempted to get onto the wagon.  The character’s uncle then stepped up and unleashed bolts of green energy turning three of the guardsmen into pigs.

Chase continued to elude his captors and Margaret completed her spell, but failed her Forte such that she couldn’t maintain the spell.  As Chase passed the stable, Margaret stepped out and cast the Fear.  The pursuing guards dropped their shields and ran.  Margaret was out for blood, but Chase talked her down by and they all beat a hasty retreat.

COMMENTARY

This was a fun scene and had a good cadence.  We may have been able to condense the scene into a few less “rounds” by having a clearer statement of intent.  We should all learn to lean on the “Let it Ride” principal.

I would’ve preferred that the character’s uncle’s deus ex machina wand wouldn’t have incapacitated 3 of the 5 guards.  Uncle’s action diminished the player agency of our characters; The characters had gotten into the mess and the characters should get out of it; Either by way of a Circles test or some other sequence of tests.

Into the Woods

The characters travelled towards the Monastery of the Jade Flame, opting to travel north of the Boiling Pools and through the overrun forest.  A failed orienteering test lead to a turn for the worse; A walking dead elf ambushed the characters. Chase, Walt, Claudio and Margaret were all horrified.

The walking dead quickly advanced, clawing at Margarets face (B5 Light Wound).  Meanwhile, Peter woke up and quickly reacted — passing an Ob 8 Steel test.  In quick order, Peter breathed fire on the walking dead and it was dispatched.

COMMENTARY

This also was a good scene, as we delved deeper into an unfriendly and unknown forest.  There was a sense of foreboding given that we had failed our Orienteering test.  Afterwards, the characters all worked to build sensible fortifications when setting up camp.

I feel that the sequence of actions was off for the conflict.  The GM asked the characters to make Steel tests upon seeing the walking dead.  We then immediately went into scripted Fight, with the walking dead close enough to engage in melee for the first exchange.

I feel a Perception vs. Stealthy test to detect the walking dead would’ve been a good first step.  It went too quickly from “there’s something out there” to “it’s right in my face.”  An intermediate test would’ve given help me accept that the walking dead was right in Margaret’s face (even if the test was B4 vs. Ob 6, it still offered Margaret a chance).

To be continued…

Contributions to the Rolemaster Standard System

Over a decade ago, before D&D 3E was launched, I was working on converting several D&D deities and characters over to Rolemaster Standard System from D&D 2E.  As I’m want to do, I was pushing a system change on the group.  I felt that Rolemaster would better capture the stories that I wanted to see.

Below are a list of articles that Pete and I submitted to the venerable Guild Companion.  These spell lists were created primarily for priests of the various gods in the campaign.

The Enjoyable Chaos of Scripted Actions

Back in the early days of my gaming career, I played a lot of AD&D 2nd Edition.  I had an extensive collection of books, and was frequently the Dungeon Master.  One of the things that stuck with me early on was that we declared actions before rolling initiative.

This idea of declaring actions before executing the actions has led to absolutely sublime moments: the stone giant smoothy, the memorable Irv the Mole session, and convincing a gnome to join us with only the promise of adventure.

Burning Wheel implements three subsystems for declaring actions before determining resolution.  The scripted systems of Duel of Wits, Fight, and Range & Cover.  Each time we break out one of these systems, which has predominately been Duel of Wits, I must plan my steps to victory.

As I’m writing the script, I am also subconsciously constructing a narrative of the resolution.  I’m hoping and almost expecting to get that lucky jab in against my opponent, without sustaining a wound, and victory will be mine.  And in the planning there is also the specter of failure raising the tension level.

As each player reveals their script, I watch as my well laid plans are either brought to ruin or succeed against all odds.  And thus the story I thought would come to pass does not, but is instead a story built by all participants.

And, if you are judicious about keeping the scripts, you may very well be able to reconstruct the conflict at a later date.

A Note on Player Engagement During Conflict

I’ve sat through plenty of conflict where the characters take turns as per their initiative order.  When a player’s turn pops up, they act, then when it’s not their turn they wait to record damage and adjudicate forced movement.  In short, a player is only active for a fraction of the total conflict.

Contrast this with a character involved in Fight.  Everyone in the Fight scripts their actions.  Then everyone reveals and resolves their actions.  There is engagement during the entire Fight.  That is to say, characters involved in Fight, experience less downtime than in D&D 3E+.

Modeling the Chaos of Conflict

When I first looked into Burning Wheel, I found references and interested in its scripted conflict.  I had long been engaged in the initiative system of 3E and 4E, where conflict began with a single action and every action there after was a response.

Contrast this with Burning Wheel where conflict doesn’t begin at a single point, but is instead joined by all participants.  In this chaos, there is an uncertainty, and inability to predict the conflicts outcome. The chain of events is more akin to a web of events.

There is tension as you look to your scripted sheet and realized you have an unavoidable strike coming your way, but know if you can survive you’ll deliver a great strike against an exposed opponent.

Wrapping It Up

Not being much of a poker player, I have to wonder how the scripted conflict of Fight relates to a hand of Texas Hold’em.  Engaged in the conflict, you work to outwit your opponent, but a bad flop can have devastating effects.

Related articles

Irv the Mole

Nowadays, there is very little note passing in our campaigns.  It used to be after a session there would be a handful of notes.  But this practice has fallen out of favor in our group.

At one point, I had a large poster tube that stored all of the crumpled passed notes.  At the end of the session, since I typically played host, I would go around the game area, pick up all of the notes and without reading them, put them in the note tube.  Slowly this collection built up.

No other session in my gaming history has generated more pieces of notes than the one-shot Rolemaster game that involved Irv the Mole and a motley of other characters.

The session started with a myopic pick-pocket (Irv the Mole), a greedy halfling ex-cultist, a wrongly accused bard, a highwayman (of the non-Waylan Jennings variety), a duelist, a rough and tumble brawler, and perhaps another character, all being sprung from jail and tasked with fetching a cart that was out of town.

A simple quest for a one-shot session.  The characters quickly arrived at the cart, and there was a bit of role-playing.  The group had found some item of interest in the cargo of the wagon, but Irv had found a secret compartment under the wagon containing a bag of jewels.

Irv’s player sent me a note saying he wanted to keep this discovery a secret, and made a pick pockets roll.  At this, I broke the session a bit, looked at everyone’s character sheet, and rolled their opposing perception checks and passed each other player a note saying what they saw (most everyone saw Irv’s pick pocketing).

At this point, the scene tension grew, and the disagreements started flying as fingers were being pointed and an argument was being made about how to split the wealth.  There were notes being passed, concerning weapons and looking around for exists.  But gasoline was thrown onto the situation when the crossbow happy highwayman said to no one in particular:

You know, we could split this two ways.

At this point, everyone immediately went to writing notes about their character’s actions.  Frantic decisions.  The halfling realized the highwayman was not talking to him.  Mind control spells were cast. Irv knew he had to run. Swords were drawn.  Crossbows nocked.  All kinds of chaos was afoot.  For a good hour or so everyone scripted their actions and we resolved them.

And because this was Rolemaster, everyone knew the crossbow was likely an instant kill (or at least an incapacitation).  Also, everyone knew that once that bolt was fired, the person would be relatively defenseless.  Casting times were important.  Single cuts from the sword could kill.

Ultimately, Irv died as he couldn’t run fast enough. The other details of the conflict are very fuzzy as it has been 10+ years since, yet I continue to look fondly and favorably on that session.

That evening, I believe our gaming group generated over 150 individual notes that we then fed into the note tube.

A year or so later, with a rather full tube, we spent an evening reading through all of the notes from the year or so of gaming.  It was a magical evening, as we reconstituted actions from numerous unrelated campaigns and adventures.  The notes were both from the GM but also from the player, and often times there was not just the action but the rational and the contingencies.  We were able to so easily reconstruct that magical evening when sill Irv decided to take a bit more than he was entitled to.

And to my shame, I have since lost those notes. Those bits of memories that connected me to gamers who no longer game at my table.  In fact, I would surrender my game collection to have the Irv the Mole notes again.

Bloodstone Session #3 Recap – It’s Always More Interesting When a Cuddling Instinct Comes Into Play

Having reached a Duel of Wits compromise, the party found itself in the village of  Fendown for the next three days.  What follows are my raw session notes:

Campaign Day 4 – 1st day of the Duel of Wits Compromise

  • Krooder inspects the palisade, finds a concealed tunnel near the watch tower by the church
  • Menas fails to convince the other dwarfs to dig a moat; Crispin is their leader not Menas, they defer to him.
  • Crispin is at make shift hospital, ill from a horrible night of drinking; He forces the dwarves to stay
  • Menas sponsors a debacherous night of drinking (Ob 3 Resources test) to bring the dwarfs back around.
  • Krooder noticed that the cornerstone of the church had one of the elven words etched on it.
  • Krooder, during the party, keeps watch from the church tower and notices a woman with braids leaving the town via the tunnel
  • Krooder follows, but fails to keep up, and fails to track her, stumbling and twisting his ankle (Light wound); He opts to not push his luck, a returns empty handed.
  • Lady Gwen tended to a man who worked for her father, and knew his secret.  She could perform surgery Ob 3 to save him, but he’d lose his leg or Ob 5 to save him without losing a leg.  She chose Ob 5 and succeeded.  His wife was very thankful.  I may need to have this bite her.
  • Lady Gwen tended to Graybeard Crispin; He had lots of food in his beard and bite marks on his neck.  He was complaining of illness.
  • Holden shares some wine with a one-handed villager at the Inn of Forgotten Dreams.  The villager insinuates that Lady Gilliam and the villagers believed that Lord Thomson and the late Lord Gilliam were perhaps lovers.
  • Remy and Holden, work to get Lady Gilliam drunk, and have a conversation with her regarding her husband but she will have nothing to do with Holden, though she does give him permission to talk with Lord Thomson.  She continues drinking the day away with Remy, and even offers him some of her husbands old clothes.
  • A messenger arrives with a proclamation saying that Holden, Remy, Brandon, Krooder and Menas are all wanted for murder.  The charges are somewhat trumped up, but come from the hated constable Jared of Valls, the proclaimed protector of the ducal thrown of Arcata.
  • Holden talks with Lord Thomson and finds out more, convincing him to allow someone to pay for Lord Thomson’s ransom; Lord Thomson trusts Holden and says he would simply need to pick up the ransom and return it to Lady Gilliam.
  • Lady Gilliam says they are here, but then passes out; Remy, dressed in finery, assumes the role of Lord and persuades the messenger back to the inn for rest.
  • As the messenger returns, Holden his way back to Lady Gilliam is identified by the mounted messenger.  The messenger draws steel, but old man Holden is fast enough to cast Horror and the messenger flees.
  • Outside, digging ditches, Krooder had heard the proclamation (Ob 5 Perception) and took aim and shot the rider, who fell off and died as Menas attempted field dressing.
  • Remy took Lady Gilliam to her room and convinced the butler to allow him to stay in the room to talk to her after she woke up.  He fell asleep in a chair, but Remy’s always cuddle when I sleep instinct kicked in and in the morning she woke up with Remy spooning her.  Remy attempted to smooth things over, but Lady Gilliam would have none of that and kicked him out.

Campaign Day 5

Night Time Raid

  • Menas and Katie position near the church to capture the spy.
  • Krooder, again in the church tower, sees several torches approaching the village and sounds the alarm; There are raiders, and one of the sets of gates are open.
  • Remy and Brandon are cowering in the Inn of Forgotten Dreams.
  • Menas, hearing the alarm, breaks for the front gates, and succeeds in both beating the horsemen to the gate (5D speed vs. 7D speed) and in securing the gate (5D power vs. 6D power).
  • Holden, Dragan, and Lady Gwen head to the jail having seen some movement.  They get to the jail and see a man with a crossbow having just shot the captive Lord Thomsom.
  • The raiders split and begin riding around the village, throwing torches.
  • Menas declared that he was rallying the dwarfs to repel the invaders. I offered him two options: Command Ob 3 would repel the raiders but he’d lose 2 dwarfs or Command Ob 5 and there would be no losses.  Menas went for Ob 5 and succeeded.
  • The assailant at the jail drew steel and engaged Dragan; Those involved made Speed tests to see who acted first.  Lady Gwen muttered a pary and Lord Thomson’s wounds closed (Ob 5 Faith test was successful). Dragan and the assailant went first, clashing swords; Dragan committed all 7 dice to defense and the assailant committed all 7 to offense.  Dragan had 6 successes, but the assailant had 11 successes (holy crap was the Fate potent).  Dragan took a B10 wound and dropped…Oops.  In the Bloody Vs. 2 of those 7 dice were only available for defense.  So we backed things up in the moment, and instead of a deadly B10 wound, Dragan sustained a more managable B7 wound.  Then old man Holden fired off the Horror and the assailant fled; He was then felled by Krooder in the church tower.
  • The spy was going to poison the village well, but Katie was able, with Krooder’s help from the church tower, to disable the poisoners threat.