Autore Topic: [Actual Play] Tactical Ops #06 - Da Fantasy Warld!  (Letto 2330 volte)

Alessandro Piroddi (Hasimir)

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So we tried the latest ruleset in the Fantasy World setting.

The Players were me, Carlo, Ivan and Danilo.
Ivan remembered better the rules from previous game sessions, while Carlo only distantly rememberer his only session, and Danilo was new to the game.

We loosely agreed upon a classical medieval fantasy world, were magic was fairly common but not available to the common folw (not without proper study, which only THE one university in the realm could offer).

Me, Carlo and Danilo used the new Quick Creation Option, while Ivan just built his PC freely.
On one hand the PCs were ready in record time and, looking back at how they played, the simplyfied/unbalanced point distribution payed off, as Players tended to naturally act out the selected stereotype.
On the other hand the "create your power" moment took quite a bit of time ... it was our first game together in this setting are we were constantly ascetaining if our ideas for magical effects and items were OK or nor for everyone.
But in the end even this got very quick and easy as soon as we got the feeling for each-other's ideas and style.

Players & Characters came out like this:

My PC was a human "Huter", wearing feral talon-rings and a cloack made of shadows.

Ivan's PC was a sort of male Mistique, with bat-wings, halfling sized, well versed in sorcery and equipped with all sorts of magical gems and trinkets.

Danilo had a Dark Elf "Loner", a warrior with a magical chainmail of strength (whose rings moved to shape muscle-like forms like the Gantz suits), a fearsom wrist-blade that delivers time-delayed explosive blasts, and the power to heal and destoy with his hands (as in Healing Palms, and throwinf a ball of imploding energy).

Carlo built a "Gun Mage" from a race of human felines, armed with an ancient flintlock pistol used as a focus for his sorcery.

- - -

The Intel phase went smooth and quick.
We (a group of mercenaries) got hired by a misterious nobleman for a secret mission: to free and bring back (alive & unharmed) the king's brother, long lost and believed dead.
He was held prisoner in a terrible place, a high-level imperial prison built on a moving island ... moving because the island was the huge back of a gargantuan sea turtle!
Such mission was meant to be brief (5vp) but of medium difficulty (10hit Obstacles).

- - -

During the Action phase we explored two portual cities, investigating when/where the turtle would next stop to load up prisoners and supplies.
We did some good old fashioned legwork, talking to sailors, bartenders, dock workers and guards.

In so doing we discovered two unexpected allies, devised a grand plan (a veritable heist) to infiltrate the prison, and had a sinister clash with a misteryous assassin.
The game was suspended for dinner with 3vp accrued, out of the 5 needed.

- - -

I was very happy to see how at Easy difficulty most PCs can overcome an Obstacle by themselves, but never easily unless they play to their strengths... and how at Medium difficulty players immediately felt necessary to join forces and support each other in combined actions.
In this way success was always achieved, but not without the expenditure of resources and some mutual support-rolls.
Very Good.

Another thing that made me happy was the Nemesis mechanic.
It worked out exactly as it was expected... offering the group a CLASSIC of the D&D genre, where a powerful enemy steps up to harass the heroes, and when they manage to "defeat" him, the GM "saves" him because he is meant to be a recurring enemy ... it looked exactly like that kind of pre-planned plot ... but it WAS NOT pre-planned in any way!
Fuck Yeah.

Mementos got used a couple of times, and Ivan immediately spent his points to buy a second one after his first was exausted.
(one of the things I hoped for!)

As usual, everybody forgot about Effort points until the end of the game session ... I'll have to reflect on that.
Same goes for the Clarity mechanic.
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Alessandro Piroddi (Hasimir)

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Re: [Actual Play] Tactical Ops #06 - Da Fantasy Warld!
« Risposta #1 il: 2012-09-10 22:57:28 »

The second part of our quest took place after I hammered a few fixes in the rules, thanks to the playtest at GnoccoCON.
All seemed to work smoothly, and the fixes actually improved the general flow of the game.

Danilo could not come, but Claudia joined us.
Her PC was a female human from the "Guild of the Fan" ... a sort of mix between Firefly's Inara and Mata Hari.
She was armed with an embroidered fan that could cast charm and sleep and disguise and invisibility spells, she was charming and seductive, but she was also plagued by a very poor reputation ;)

It was decided she was always part of our team, but away for another mission, and upon her return she brought griveous news to Danilo's PC, so he had to leave while she took his place in the current adventure.

The game went smooth and fun.
We finally infiltrated the tortoise-prison and found ourself up against a very complex situation.
It felt very cool to face a challange that seemed too hard to face, to ponder retreat, and to finally manage to step forward thanks to clever ideas and cooperation.

The fiction was awesome... we basically played a spy-story in a high fantasy setting, with twists, turns, surprises, puzzles and a final betrayal.
One of the players (Ivan) managed to take over the magical system governing the whole prison, resulting in the fact that now the whole tortoise-island is OURS :D
And it felt ... right ... I mean, it felt like we earned it through honest play, and damn it was not easy!

The FollowUp phase was a bit tricky.
The last Victory Point was conquered when Ivan took control of the prison system.
Due to previous speculations and table-chat an idea had been spread: the King's brother we just saved might actually reveal he was the oldest and ask us to help him retake his throne.
Ideas were bouncing around, but it was all outside of the game rules... to respect them we had to make a choice:
1) normal followup = we accomplish the mission's Objective (aka: bring the king's brother to the misteryous man who engaged us)
2) continuous followup = fuck the Objective (and forsake the 2d6 Influence reward) and start a new Intel from right there, possibly with the king's brother giving us the new quest

We had to thinker a bit with the ideas around the table, since we effectively BETWEEN parts of the game and no one was sure how to manage the thing.
In the end we realized we did not know the intentions of the man who engaged us... so the sensible thing seemed to "ask the Answer Die"... but to do that we would have to GO to the meeting.

So we opted for the normal Folloup, and the Answer Die dished us our worst case scenario: it was a trap!
Our contact seized the king's brother and ordered his man to dispose of us.
The End.

A this point we used the new Intel phase to concoct a personal quest to find the truth behind this obscure plot and (once again) save the king's brother.
And the session ended here, with us all very hiped about what may ever lay behing all this treachery :D
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Alessandro Piroddi (Hasimir)

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Re: [Actual Play] Tactical Ops #06 - Da Fantasy Warld!
« Risposta #2 il: 2012-09-21 17:51:50 »
Act Three

Error #1
Thinking back to the previous FollowUp phase we realized we did things wrong...
By the book we had 2 options:

- to play a normal FollowUp... so after Ivan conquered the last VP we should have wrapped up the final part of the mission (bring the King's Brother to our mysterious contractor) and then go safely home, and then play out the FollowUp scenes to refresh our resources.
Then, in the nex Intel, we could have expressed interest for the idea of revolution... for asking ourselves if we did the right thing delivering the King's brother to the mysterious man... etc...

- to play a Continuous FollowUp... so after Ivan conquered the last VP we should have played out the FollowUp scenes to refresh our resources right there and then (incidentally an easy situation, being the new masters of the turtle-island), then going right on to the next Intel (maybe agreeing to help the King's brother re-take his rightful throne).
Then in the new Action phase maybe we could meet with our mysterious ex-contractor and discover if he was a friend or an enemy... or maybe we could play something completely different... etc

Error #2
We often forgot to roll the Nemesis die... it is now fixed thanks to an updated Framing procedure :P


In the end we ret-conned for the 2nd option...playing the already established "betrayal" scene as the first scene of our new Action phase.
The result was very interesting...

Up till now I had only played in Easy or Medium difficulty missions.
The results were quite consistent.

At Easy difficulty a single PC can usually beat an Obstacle by itself, with no help needed.
At Medium difficulty a bit of help avoids a lot of headaches, but one PC alone can manage the challenge alone if it puts enough energy into it.
Up to this point the game resources seemed abundant and no particular tactic was needed... most times the Obstacles were faced head-on, with little use for special game options.

Then we tryed how an Obstacle at Hard difficulty level felt.
Oh boy, how it was different!
Co-operation among team members became a necessity, almost mandatory.
Lots of game resources (Effort, Mementoes, etc) got burned just to face one Obstacle.
Players started grasping for extra help by using usually neglected mechanics such as Goals and Clarity.
As more and more dice got rolled, more and more Opposition started piling up, twisting the plot in unexpected ways.
In the end we paid a steep price for being too simple-minded... but let me explain this...

In the "betrayal" scene out party got ambushed by some misterious "black soldiers" that had beein disguised as a patch of dark bushes by an illusion.
As the King's brother was taken away by our mysterious contractor, and his leutenant was supposed to pay us off, it turned out the "pay" was death... and the brawl began.

As players we thought this fight should be fairly difficult, and we also wanted to cash-in some extra Influence, and we also felt quite bold having done so splendidly in the previous mission.
So the "Black Soldiers" were tagged as an Obstacle and we added +2 Complexity to  it (meaning we needed to beat it 3 times, at Hard difficulty... meaning we had to score 15 Hits with a single roll, three times, to overcome this Obstacle).
People also started adding extra Details to the Obstacle, describing their prowess, their magical equipment, etc.

The challenge starts and we co-operate to defeat them, it's hard, and in the process the previously mentined leutenant turns out to be quite a powerful opponent, earning Nemesis status (thus becoming a second Obstacle in the same challenge, adding even more Danger dice to most of our rolls).
We manage to land a solid blow on the Soldiers when a Pitfall effect happens... they are "too strong" to be defeated directly, and the Scene closes.

We described this by allowing our PCs to discover, with dread, that the fallen soldiers were actually healing back and getting up to fight against us... they looked like... some sort of... clay golems, rapidly regenerating every wound we inflicted!

Next scene could have allowes us a timely strategic escape... but we wanted to beat those fuckers, so instead the scene portraied our party performing a tactical retreat on a nearby cliff in the middle of the forest, were high ground and some good ideas would help up defeat the threat.
Our magician basically invoked an inferno of flames to "cook" the clay and stop it from regenerating, while we others dished ridiculous amounts of damage ... Claudia's PC torn the cliff down invoking a typhoon ... my PC invoked dark tendrils of shadow and pain to lash at the golems ... Carlo's PC blasted our enemies with infallible magical projectiles.

Mechanically we spent a Memento to remove the Pitfall tag, then joined forces to score a second blow to the Obstacle's Complexity.
Too bad we also got another Pitfall! (and some Hurt to boot)
So ... while the plan to "cook" the clay golems seemed to work at first, we found out that the "pot golems" we were smashing to pieces appeared lie... pot jars... containing a sort of incandescent magma... that once free from its ceramic container re-formed into magma golems and kept attacking us, more fearsome (and regenerating) than before!

New scene, new opportunity to just walk away, but we decided to keep our stubborn course.
This time no one offered to spend a Memento to un-tag the Pitfall, and sucking up 3d6 points of Opposition seemed even worse, so we opted to spend a few Scenes building up a plan to once again stop the golems.
We split the pary, and everyone had a scene to implement a piece of the plan we concocted...

So we run away, deep into the woods, always cahsed by the relentless magma golems, while their passage spread a fire through the trees.
We found a river... and we set our trap... Carlo blasted the river banks so that the water will invade the whole area... Ivan cast an illusion to hide such water filled terrain... and my PC acted as bait to lure the golems right into the water.
It worked.
As soon as the golems reached the water a sudden steam-fog arised from the illusory ground, but thanks to Ivan's magical deception they kept marching on.
Claudia used again her typhoon fan, this time to provoke a wave in the river water... and as soon as it submerged the golems, Carlo used a freezing ray to solidify the already cooling magma and then blast it to pieces with his other explosive gun.

With this we FINALLY vanquished the golems... but not before a Twist happened... and we saw, in the now petrified faces of the golems, the visage of the King.
What could this mean?
Is the King part of the conspiration against his brother?
Is the King a powerful socerer, and now our true enemy?
(this also added +1vp to the mission objective, making it a bit longer)

It felt like a LOT of fun.
It felt exausting.
It felt damn challenging.
It felt EXACTLY like in the old days of D&D, when the DM threw an impossibly difficult enemy at the PCs because, of course, they will test its strength and then be savvy adventurers and find a way to avoid it... and instead the ox-minded Players kept stubbornly charging on and on again, depleting most of their resources for just one single obstacle right at the beginning of the (long) quest XD
« Ultima modifica: 2012-09-21 17:59:28 da Alessandro Piroddi (Hasimir) »
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Alessandro Piroddi (Hasimir)

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Re: [Actual Play] Tactical Ops #06 - Da Fantasy Warld!
« Risposta #3 il: 2012-09-21 17:58:54 »
In the end we spent about 3h to overcome 1 Obstacle, playing about 7 Scenes that showed our heroes chased by an hominously powerful unnatural threat that in the end revealed a shocking twist.
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