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Episode 62: World Building 202- Campaign Design
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Main Topic

Once you have the broad strokes of your world set out, how do you translate that into an active campaign in this world? A Campaign is a specific set of adventures or length of time that you spend in a world and can be just one Campaign over many years or can be the only time this world and these characters are used.  This episode explores how to make the most out of Campaign Design.

 

What is the overall idea you are wanting to do? All campaigns have a central theme of some kind.  These can be “internal” or “external” as it relates to the characters. Internal themed campaigns center around a particular kind of choice or challenge that characters will face internally – the slide to a seductive evil power like The Dark Side, hard choices to save the City, whether Love can conquer all.  External themed campaigns are focused on resolving an obstacle in the Campaign World – Stopping the marauding empire’s dreams of conquest, protecting the Galactic Republic from conspiracies, or slaying the dragon that is terrorizing the town. This choice of idea or theme will help you focus your storytelling efforts towards those ends.

 

When you have a campaign theme or idea you have a starting point for every session you are planning or running – you know that you have an idea that you want to thread into the heads of your players.  This is a major strength of formal planning for your campaigns – betrayal, love, trust, Cold War espionage, or Horrors from beyond mean always having something in the back pocket to pull out.

 

What is the strength of the system you are using? Let’s face it – some systems have better crunch for certain themes than others. Generally, you will want to lean into the strength of the system in your campaign design so your Starfinder campaign will be much more Flash Gordon pulp than a murder mystery style game while Blades in the Dark is going to potentially provide a stronger social dynamic setting than out and out combat.  In the Advanced Campaign Design Episode in the future, we’ll talk about playing against type for a campaign.

 

Knowing how to make best use of the underlying crunch can really help you design the Campaign

 

How long are you wanting the campaign to run? Another consideration is how long you want this campaign to take.  It could be a brief interstitial campaign, set between other campaigns, or this could be a long running primary campaign you intend to milk for years of sessions.  These require different considerations –

 

Should you have a player handout? Yes.

 

Players like toys and handouts.  Give them something to keep them busy.  Hide clues to the campaign resolution in these handouts. Make them mean …. Something.  Or just give them a pretty picture or a map you made after listening to Episode 60! Zen talks about GM Advice: How to Design a Campaign Primer from Creighton Broadhurst.

 

Stat Blocks

Zendead-  Sandalia

 

Before time, in the dark, he was spawned with his many brothers and sisters in the pools. There was nothing to help them or tell them what was right or wrong. As time spun forward thirst was born to them, Which they quenched in the birthing pools. Then came the harder one, hunger. The only thing to eat was the siblings. They all started as that sensation grew stronger. As they consumed their siblings they grew in size and power and intellect. When the last of them were consumed by Sandalia, as he was calling himself now, A new sensation grew and he began to tire.

The being that spawned this pool watched her progeny do what they do best kill and eat. At last there was only one left she knew she had to hide this from the others like her for they would kill it. Warriors where not to have children it was part of how this caste came to be. She shouldn’t have been able to but she did. She picked up the writhing mass of tendrils and torso and found a quiet dark pool in this part of the Outer Realms and placed it there to grow and become one with this realm.

Time passed millenia without count Sandalia grew in the dark absorbing knowledge and understanding from the chaos of the realm. Things came to the pool and he consumed them. Always hungry this one. Till one day something came into his cave and he awoke to his full glory. A demonlord of the Abyss Sandalia or The Hungry One.

 

Guard-a-Manger – Batavian Dreams

 

It is almost a cliche when you hear about.  A neutral ground, a space for all to come, in the midst of a bar.  How many bad Cold War novels start with this hackneyed concept and spin it into something that can barely hold its own weight – the dark corners and shadowed boothes with suspicious looking patrons and an old bartender just watching you?

That’s why it was a surprise to find yourself in Batavian Dreams.  It’s a strikingly clean location. High ceilings and bright lights, just artfully off white leave little to the imagination and the minimalist decor provides almost no distinguishing features other than its indistinctness.  The bar menu itself is full of quietly and competently prepared classic American cocktails, German Beer, and Chilean Wines. It’s a small plates include a convoluted assortment of tapas, dumplings, and more multicultural fusion foods.  It’s almost like the choice was made to not make choices.

That is the genius of Batavian Dreams, whether you think the owner is a Roman history buff or referencing Jakarta, it’s ubiquity in the restaurant and bar sphere means the meetings here look like bad first dates arranged by an app and the online reviews stay strangely positive.  The bigger question in your head now is who set this meeting up and what they have to offer….

Lexicon

Cozen   verb
coz·en | \ ˈkə-zən

 

Definition of cozen
transitive verb

1 : to deceive, win over, or induce to do something by artful coaxing and wheedling or shrewd trickery

 

First Known Use of cozen
1573, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cozen
perhaps from obsolete Italian cozzonare, from Italian cozzone horse trader, from Latin cocion-, cocio trader

Popularity

Bottom 40% of words

 

Closing remarks

Zendead- Luke Cage season 2

 

Guard-a-Manger- Evil Hat Production Games – It’s a hard business.  Evil Hat had to cut back on some product lines and let some people go recently.  They’ve put their heart and soul into games like FATE – go buy a book.

 

Music is courtesy of The Enigma TNG you can find his music on YouTube or on Bandcamp

 

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Show- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Zendead- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Joules- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Nulloperations-Email, Twitter, Facebook

Guard-a-manger- Email, Twitter

 

And Thanks to Merriam-Webster for our Lexicon segment

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The last of the Changelings in our Oathcircle that is safeguarding the Uncovered Vale is Alexandra Phaedra, a Satyr with a history in this area who is louder and louder in her declamations of protecting the Commoners and taking Glamour for that purpose.  Similar to some of the other characters, I am working off of a lesser used concept for the Satyr which plays to some of the Greek heritage where she started as an Athlete, but became more of a rounded philosopher-queen of Greek tradition. The scholar or well rounded person obsessed with miasma or blood pollution.   

After this project, I am just going to admit that some other OWOD books have been coming off the shelf.  Expect another installment of Card Catalog to flash back to the 90s – can you guess which one?

I found the form fillable two page Sheets, and linked to them below, but I won’t repeat too much on the sheet that is going into the words below in the Character Notes.

 

Design Notes

Satyr’s, like Trolls, have a bonus rank of a Physical Attribute, Stamina for the Satyr, which makes it easier to create a rounded character.  Her primary Attributes will be Mental, Physical Secondary, and Social as Tertiary. She is not a charming Satyr and focuses far more on other ways to produce her results. Accordingly, she has a Strength of 2, Dexterity of 3, and Stamina of 4 compared to a Perception of 3, Intelligence of 4, and Wits of 3.  Finally, her Appearance is a 3, Manipulation a 2, and Charisma a 1.

As a Moonlight Satyr, Alexandra’s Unseelie Legacy will be the dominant one.  I went with a Legacy found in the Player’s Guide – Sophist. Alexandra is hard to design because she is such a precarious balance of physical and mental with what I see as an almost crusading component.  The Sophist Legacy means that she will be sharing what she knows and maybe even pushing people in that direction but for her own gain. Conversely, her Seelie Legacy that was left behind when she switched Courts was Comrade.  You can see how her first instinct to be friends and be part of something greater could also be the same instinct that sees relationships in a transactional way. As a Wilder, the dynamic and driven of us, Alex starts with 4 Glamour, 2 WIllpower, and 3 Banality.  

The Satyr Birthrights revolve on their two historical abilities – Physical Prowess which means an Extra Dot of Stamina, never botching Athletics checks, and the ability to run at an inhuman speeds when the Glamour is all that stands in their way; and Pan’s Gift which is a revelry and performance that can inspire a bacchanalia like attitude in other Kithain and Fae! Satyrs are known for their frolicking and their different romantic interests. Conversely,  Passion’s Curse means

Originally, Alexandra was going to be a Physical Primary Athlete, but two things changed.  First, the idea of the character came more into focus and gave me pause as I wanted to go with more Mental aspects and I looked at both Denys and Paul as Primary Physical Characters and then Maggie Pie and Niklaus as Primary Social Characters and confirmed by move to Mental Primary (7) for Alexandra.  She starts with Perception 3, Intelligence 4, and Wits 4. Her Physical Attributes become Secondary (5) while she became an unusual Satyr with Tertiary Social Attributes. Physically, her Attributes are Strength 2, Dexterity 3, and Stamina 4 because she got an extra dot in Stamina as a Satyr. For some reason, people don’t trust Alex and that means a low Charisma of 1 with an Average Manipulation of 2 and an Appearance of 3 because Satyrs always have some sort of draw about them.  In her story, we will see why Alex can’t inspire trust of warmth in others these days, but I like this idea.

Okay. Now hear me out – I am going to make Knowledges the Tertiary Ability area.  I know I said I am making a smarter Mental primary Character, but I have a plan! Talents will be Primary (13) with Skills Secondary (9), and Knowledges Tertiary (5). I am going to start with three ranks in Athletics and Dodge.  It is better not to get hit after all. I will start with two ranks each in Alertness, Brawl, and Kenning to provide a rounded person and background with a single rank of Streetwise. For her Skills, I will go ahead and put three ranks in Performance so she can dance well even if her Charisma isn’t quite up to par and a pair of ranks for Firearms, Melee, and Security.  Finally, I will provide 3 Ranks of Lore and 2 Ranks of Linguistics – Greek and Latin, of course.

With a spread of backgrounds, I start with the Rank of Holding that goes to the underlying Oathcircle concept here.  Then one Rank of Remembrance to have some connection to the Dreaming, a Rank of Resources for her mortal escapades, and a Rank each of Dreamers and Contacts.  Her Resources are likely a form of grants and scholarships while the Dreamers and Contacts could be from a fan club of her exploits.

For Arts, or the basis for what a Fae may do with the Cantrip Magic, I will do a Rank of Soothsay to further the idea of the Satyr as a future Greek oracle, a Rank of Wayfare to jump and eventually move towards the Quicksilver running, and a rank of Sovereign.  This one could be great fun and is also a huge story point since the Sidhe are protective of it and tend to react poorly to any Commoner who has learned it – though it won’t effect them because the Dreaming prohibts its impact of fae of a higher Title than the caster.  For Realms, of what the fae may effect with the Cantrip magic, I need to get two Ranks of Actor and One of Fae at least to begin with and another 2 Ranks of Scene to potentially Soothsay an entire room. Or Protocol an entire room of Commoners.

Finally, we get to Freebie Points, Merits, and Flaws.  Freebie Points let you customize your character beyond what we’ve done already.  Merits are other bonuses or traits that don’t fit elsewhere and cost Freebie points while Flaws are the inverse providing a handful more Freebie points to spend. Here is where the Mental Primary Satyr plan comes to Fruition – the five point Merit Jack of All Trades! This means that Alexandra is treated as having a Rank of every single Skill and Knowledge! She would still have to spend the XP to buy the first rank if she ever formally bought it, but this lets her cover that role easily to start! Before I go further, since I already took 5 points of the Freebies away, I’ll focus on the Flaws – I am starting with a 3 Point Enemy – her Father.  Three points means he will be pretty significant and her story idea I came up with will bear that out. An associated 1 Point Dark Secret is that she is beginning to agree with her Father, who is known to the other Fae and that her Father counts as an Infamous Mentor for another point balancing out the Jack of All Trades Merit. I will add Concentration for 1 Point and Eidetic Memory for 2 Points to continue to play up the mental focus for Alexandra. I will add one more rank of Athletics to her Abilities and then add a Rank to both Soothsay and Actor in the Arts and Realms respectively.

 

Character Notes

Alexandra Phaedra’s life was something of a rarity and certainly quite idyllic amongst the fae even before her Chrysalis.  You see, Alexandra’s parents were both well known and well loved fae! Her Father, Phaedrus in his fae mien, happened to be a Satyr who had charmed his way into a life with Brid, a Sidhe who excelled on the battlefield.  They were an odd pair, for sure, the stoic and statuesque Brid with the rakish and raucous Phaedrus but it seemed to work for them. Moreoever, the rare honour befell them when even as Grumps they saw their Daughter go through a Chrysalis.  A fae reincarnated into the child of fae. A blessing it would seem.

Alex’s life was a whirlwind when she began to see the world as her parents did.  It made so much more sense to see what her parents fought and drew on. Her eyes opened during a race as she ran faster than ever before.  In those brief seconds she saw possibility and wonder. In those briefest of moments, she was able to imagine the Dreaming. Her father would take her on trips and fill her head with stories of lore and lives gone past.  She would understand how her father’s time on stage, playing the trumpet brought him Glamour and raised the spirits of those who listened. When her mother was left in charge, she learned martial ways and the etiquette of the Sidhe.  She even learned the shapings on the Sovereign Art from her her mother – a hint and whiff of the authority of the Sidhe so rarely shared with Commoners even today.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Alexandra was the way she set her own tasks before her. As much as her parents dove deeper into the Dreaming and availed themselves of Freeholds to stave off the Undoing, she saw a form of magic and wonder still available in the Autumn land.  She learned how to program BASIC on a computer and became as good a shot with a rifle as with bow and arrow. At school, the handful of other fae seemed to gather together – the odd Redcap Niklaus with his love of bow ties and delicate movements that chilled the heart of those who thought they were solely owed a seat at the table and Paul, the indefatiguable Boggan who could dance with her over and over … who made her laugh like no other. She was a charmed and blessed youth – bright, fast, attractive, happy, and full of potential.   

Two years ago, the summer before her senior year of high school, that all changed. Brid had a duty to fulfill and Baron Gottfried was not shy of calling on her for it.  The Barony needed protection from a Chimerical monster – a rare Giant from the far Dreaming riding a Wurm, but one bent on conquest rather than communion. Brid, A Noble Sidhe and warrior born, sallied forth to fight the good fight ….. But it was a pyrrhic victory.  Alexandra was there with her father, Denys and his Knight, and others when the Lady Brid felled the beast only to be felled by it. Her Dreaming left … given over to Banality. It was her Undoing.

Whispering Wind helped Alexandra make an escape even as her father could scarcely handle what he had seen.  Even as her Father swore an Oath … even as her life changed for good. She saw the UnSeelie side of the world – how Ravaging is what was left for the fae when the Dreaming was dying. She took a turn for the darker side of the dreams but even that was not as chilling as what unfolded over the next year with her father.  Brid was still around, a normal human mother, a housewife and an office drone now answering only to Bridgette. She worked away and kept a house showing no sign of the proud, strong warrior who led the charge; showing no sign of the spark of creativity and joy that had defined her mother.

Her father took this the wrong way.  The way that frightens every fae – Phaedrus did not succumb to banality but dove deep to embrace it as an Autumn Person – one of the Dauntain called an Apostate.  It was subtle at first as he looked into the lore of the fae and the Dreaming. It wasn’t immediate … but Alexandra felt it at home. The slow clawing and increasing banality.  She thought it was her mother causing it. She had never lived with a human before … but no, it was her Father giving into the belief that the Undoing sends the glamour back to Arcadia.  It was her Father who came to see banality as a way for fae to live forever …. And a way for him to rejoin Brid with enough of it around him. His eyes have grown wild and his attempts to push other fae into Undoing to tip the balance has taken on a dangerous time.  It is only luck that keeps Alexandra away from home but soon that will all come to a head.

The excuse of a college scholarship got Alexandra out of the house and the Oathcircle that coincides with that move provides some protection against a frightful foe who sees her as one of the last links that tethers his love.  She has pulled back away from Paul. He doesn’t seem hurt; Boggans rarely do. While she has her dalliances and dates, she is terrified of dragging Paul into this life she found – this curse. Miasma, the blood pollution, would consume him as much as her family so clearly cursed. Her joyful partying and lust for life has taken on a slightly darker tone as she seeks out escapes after facing down the Dreaming’s erosions. She thought she volunteered for this Oathcircle, but a careful application of Sovereign by Baron Gottfried led to her decision.  The Baron needed the constant reminder of his fallen Knight gone and her own rabble rousing out of his hair. If she whips up enough problems in the Vale, he can claim it back. And besides, why believe a girl who claims the sky is falling?

Outspoken and too smart for her own good.  Beautiful but cold. Alexandra’s name has come to haunt her as in mythology you might also have called her by the name Cassandra.  

 

Alexandra Phaedra – Wilder UnSeelie Satyr Sage Character Sheet

Changeling: The Dreaming & The Uncovered Vale Overview Here.

 

Character Sheet from Mr. Gone’s Character Sheets.

World of Darkness, Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire: The Dark Ages, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Wraith: The Oblivion, Changeling: The Dreaming, Hunter: The Reckoning, Demon: The Fallen, Mummy: The Resurrection, Orpheus, Exalted, Chronicles of Darkness, White Wolf, and their respective logos, icons and symbols are trademarks or registered trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment. ©2018 White Wolf Entertainment AB, Västgötagatan 5, SE-118 27 Stockholm, Sweden.  Seize the GM is a fan work and is not affiliated with White Wolf Entertainment. This work is made as criticism and review of the published work – no claim of ownership is intended or implied.  Please visit https://www.white-wolf.com/ or http://theonyxpath.com/category/worlds/classicworldofdarkness/ for more information.

I always knew that the second major combatant in this Oathcicle would be the Boggan rather than the Redcap.  You may have noticed by now that I enjoy subverting tropes and stereotypes. Thinking about the pleasant face of a boggan and combat got me into the mood of Saturday Morning Kung Fu Theatre and wuxia movies, especially some of the Shaw Brothers movies and I took inspiration from there.  There were some larger and stouter martial artists who did remarkable feats of athletics that served as the basis for Paul.

I found the form fillable two page Sheets, and linked to them below, but I won’t repeat too much on the sheet that is going into the words below in the Character Notes.

Design Notes

Paul returns us to making a Primary physical character and is not terribly adept socially, which is a nice way for a Boggan to sort of luck into getting things done.  He has that helpful, almost jovial warrior sort of idea about him. The guy who sticks up for the bullied that you didn’t expect.

The selfless and giving soul we have described is a shoe in for the Saint Seelie Legacy.  This focuses well on his desire to help, and also on the Boggan’s own Frailty. COnversely, the Rake Unseelie Legacy reflects the fed up personality that can come out if Paul switches Courts – the selfish sensualist who cares little for others.  These also fit within the archetypes of the Kung Fu movies that serve as the character inspiration – the giving hero who steps in the way of oppression and the gluttonous demon or fallen hero that is often the opposition. As a Wilder, the dynamic and driven of us, Paul starts with 4 Glamour, 2 WIllpower, and 3 Banality.   

As a Boggan, Paul receives the Birthrights of Craftwork and Social Dynamics.  That means that his steadfast behavior allows him to accomplish any simple physical task such as craftwork of labor in one third of the time.  Similarly, they notice things about households and can determine the relationships between groups of people by observing their behavior and the subtle hints of human interaction.  A frailty, though, is the Call of the Needy where Paul will not be able to avoid assisting those in need. As you can see, the Saint Seelie Legacy is tailor made for a good Boggan.

Because I want the agility of movie stars like Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung, Paul’s Primary Physical Attributes will be Strength 2, Dexterity 5, and Stamina 3. Secondary Attributes in Mental let me do a Perception of 2, Intelligence of 2, and Wits of 4 – paul is pretty average in his mental abilities, but reacts with superb speed to new situations.  Finally, furthering some of the ideas from the inspiration, I will make his Social Attributes a3 Charisma, 1 Manipulation, and 2 Appearance – Paul is trusted and a little charming but absolutely guileless in his pursuit of helping others.

For a Martial Artist, Athletics, Brawl, and Dodge will be the most important Abilities, so Talents will be Primary (13).  With three in each of those three, I will add a rank of Alertness and Streetwise, but 2 of Empathy for his Social Dynamics rolls.  With little in the way of book learning important to Paul, Skills will be Secondary (9) and Knowledges Tertiary (5). For those Skills, I will put a pair of ranks into Stealth, Melee, and Crafts to reflect the ideas of being light on his feet, having some weapon training, and the innate Boggan tendency towards building things.  A rank each of Security and Etiquette will round out the skills while Knowledges get a single rank each in Enigmas, Greymare, Investigation, Linguistics (Chinese), and Lore.

Paul’s Backgrounds took a little bit of pondering to be honest.  There is the initial Rank of Holdings to represent the Freehold he is helping govern and protect, and then maybe a rank of Resources to reflect his part time job as a janitor at a local shop but what to do with the other three? After not having enough points on Denys for the Chimerical Dragon, I’ll add a few ranks here for the Dragon to show up somewhere and a single rank in Treasures for Paul to have something of value to the Dreaming.  

I am sticking with a straightforward three Ranks in Wayfare for Paul.  The leaping and quicksilver bits are things that play into his core concept, but the Portal Passage Cantrip to be able to make an opening in something to pass through just is too much fun.  Because he needs to be able to affect himself, the Fae realm with one Rank for Commoner is the start. After that, I’ll add three Ranks of Nature for Portal Passage’s efficacy and then a Rank of Scene in case he needs to make a really big door or get everybody jumping.

Finally, we get to Freebie Points, Merits, and Flaws.  Freebie Points let you customize your character beyond what we’ve done already.  Merits are other bonuses or traits that don’t fit elsewhere and cost Freebie points while Flaws are the inverse providing a handful more Freebie points to spend. Even as a little bit on the pudgy side, I want Paul to be fit so I will buy his Strength up to 3 for 5 Freebie points.  6 more points will go into raising Dodge to 5 and Brawl to 4 in his Abilities. Paul has some great Merits to choose like Daredevil for 3 points that will create an incentive to be risky even without a great die pool for it. As a Flaw, I pick up Lifesaver which goes to Paul’s good heart and his desire to not kill anyone and balance this with … well … Perfect Balance as a Merit. I think I want more Ability points, but with only 1 Freebie left, I need a few more Flaws.  I will take an Enemy, or a Rival as someone to challenge Paul and fit into the existing concept for 1 more Freebie to get a fourth Rank in Athletics. The other 2 and 3 Point Flaws I see are ones that I have already used, so I am going to leave it there.

Character Notes

Who knew VCR and some dusty old Tapes would awaken the Dreaming and Glamour of a Changeling? Paul Scheno has his eyes light up watching the tapes in the back room of the video store where he worked odd jobs on the weekends.  His Uncle owned the store, so child labor laws never seemed to apply and it was something physical for an unmotivated a slightly overweight kid to do.

Paul was settling into a comfortable path of being lazy and tired, reinforced by the banal views of people his size and weight from society until he watched those videos.  Old Kung Fu Action flicks had been hidden in the back of the store, and a VCR to play them. On the movies he saw men shaped like him dance with grace. He saw men his size act with authority. He had his Chrysalis as he realized there were no CGI effects to fake these actions. He saw that his shape and size were no barrier to achievement and with good fortune realized he was a Boggan.

He set his nose to the grindstone.  Through perseverance, he began moving and exercising still helping his Uncle out at the video store.  He convinced his parents to enroll him in kung fu classes locally and he excelled at soaking up the learning and lore provided to him.   He was still on the rotund side, but he loved himself and all of his curves, quietly confident in his ability to do whatever needed doing.

Flipping around when nobody was looking to dust the ceiling fans of the store, Paul began to venture out further to see the Fae around him and explore the Dreaming.  He so often would push himself across town running after Chimera that his Freerunning became known. As he moved into High School he also found his way formally to the Freehold of Baron Gottfried.  He was well appreciated at the Freehold being a Boggan with a knock and skill at cleaning. He was not, however, recognized for his desire to fight and move forward. Whispering Wind was one to help him and one to see that his kindness masked a resolute soul.

Eventually, even Niklaus and Alexandra crossed his path.  Teenagers at the same high school, fae of about same age, it was inevitable that they would meet.  Paul’s unsupressable earnestness was odd to his fellows. He didn’t have an ounce of slyness in him, but he also wouldn’t hesitate to stand up for what is right.  He was a Paladin in so many ways. And Alexandra caught his eye. Teenagers and hormones make for odd couples, and he fell head over heels for Alex and Alexandra. As a fae, it was not better and in fact intoxicatingly worse. Paul knows exactly what this is, but she hasn’t given him an indication to stop – and as a Boggan that’s something he would honor. He’s had his share of flirtations, but it’s a connection he can scarcely explain that seems to draw his eyes back to the Sage of a Satyr, even as she fights the closest thing to a demon that the fae know.

It was a relief to find the Court of the fae, to be honest.  He was beginning to run low on hope. He saw all the amazing things he could do, even without a Cantrip and the Dreaming – he saw the amazing things anyone could do.  They only wanted to see CGI fantasy. Paul was an embodiment of a lost art and a passed time.

Maybe that is why he was moved to volunteer to go with the other commoners to the Freehold. Maybe it was to stay close to the object of his affections … or maybe it was a sense of duty to his fellow fae.  He could show them, and the rest of the Kithain, he could show them how a Boggan could save their honor. Or he would go down trying.

 

Paul Scheno – Wilder Boggan Warrior Character Sheet

Changeling: The Dreaming & The Uncovered Vale Overview Here.

 

Character Sheet from Mr. Gone’s Character Sheets.

World of Darkness, Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire: The Dark Ages, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Wraith: The Oblivion, Changeling: The Dreaming, Hunter: The Reckoning, Demon: The Fallen, Mummy: The Resurrection, Orpheus, Exalted, Chronicles of Darkness, White Wolf, and their respective logos, icons and symbols are trademarks or registered trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment. ©2018 White Wolf Entertainment AB, Västgötagatan 5, SE-118 27 Stockholm, Sweden.  Seize the GM is a fan work and is not affiliated with White Wolf Entertainment. This work is made as criticism and review of the published work – no claim of ownership is intended or implied.  Please visit https://www.white-wolf.com/ or http://theonyxpath.com/category/worlds/classicworldofdarkness/ for more information.

Episode 61: When to Change Rules(Part 1)
Regular Shows

 
 
00:00 / 56:06
 
1X
 

Main Topic

Sometimes it seems like a rule doesn’t work how you think it should. What are you supposed to do? Leave it be or do as others before you have done dive in and fiddle with those crunchy bits. Every game has likely had its share of House Rules – those changes that are home on and live solely at the table.  It’s kind of like how Monopoly’s Free Parking space gets treated differently depending on which family is hosting the game. So when do you make a House Rule and why?

 

  • To Fix a Broken Rule. When we say broken, we mean just doesn’t work.  In the design, editing, and proofing timeline mistakes can make it through.  Sometimes a chart necessary to make something work gets left out and sometimes the mechanics just don’t seem to work.  A House Rule to fix the broken system part is a great way to get to Rules as Intended (RAI) even if the Rules as Written (RAW) don’t quite make sense. In the Shadowrun 2050 supplement, a chart for the cost of certain equipment was missing and it makes all the difference in that game and you needed to know the cost.  House Rule.
  • To Have More Fun. If you have a running joke or something happens in the heat of the moment that immediately and undeniably is going to be a defining part of a campaign or player … you let it go.  You figure out how it fits together with the rules and you let this little absurdity slide in. In Star Frontiers, you could not start with a Pilot character. RAW would take well over a dozen games before you could have a PC pilot …. So you either start with very experienced characters or house rule a different standard for the piloting skill.
  • To Fix A Playstyle Mismatch. Sometimes the rule works, but it works too well for your table.  This is something that you may need to address when you jump editions (See Episode 46) because you’ll see a lot of changes made between editions.  If you have a character or a player who is built around and knows a style of play that doesn’t work anymore … maybe you revert to some older versions to let her continue with her theme.  If you really wanted to play a wuxia inspired game using the Street Fighter rules, maybe you will make the weapons do normal instead of aggravated damage to let your players go hand to sword like your source material.
  • To Fill in the Gaps.  For all the glory of simulationist rule sets and all the flexibility of the narrative rules light games, sometimes you just need a new rule! While GURPS had tables for almost everything … it was *almost* everything.  When you make a house rule, it can be as simple as making a determination of how to treat a specific challenge or difficulty – what is the nature of the modifier or the basis for the challenge. We all have our rules of thumb and DM shortcuts, but when you make a call and keep it consistent, you’ve made a House Rule. If it takes a Charisma + Lore check to get a Librarian to agree to your request to see the special collections once in Throal, it does the next time as well!

 

Story based reasons are an entirely different conversation! That’s Part 2, and rest assured that the Seize the GM crew wants to revisit this one pretty soon! Chime in on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and let us know your favorite House Rule or what you think we should cover next!

Stat Blocks

Zendead- Sampson

The stippling pain erupted down his left arm. The bullets striking him flattened in rapid succession. The mind starts screaming you are dead fool, get down. But he stands there dumbfound instead.

How you ask can a man stand there and get riddled up one side of his body with gunfire and not really notice? Well sometimes things happen in this world things like Bright Star or Titan. Then the world changes sometimes for the better sometimes for the worse.

The world has never seen the likes of Sampson. The power to withstand trauma that would lay lesser men out. The strength to lift a city bus filled to capacity. And the mind like an iron trap, one left outside for many days in the rain. But his true weakness is his hair. Which is why no one is let to near to this beautiful and simple man. But his hair yes just a snip and all that power washes away and you are left with Sam the fashion model.

 

 

Joules-Time Traveler’s Pocket

Thank you for your most recent catalog order.  This month we are proud to introduce our new line of chrono-temporal accessories.

Behold the Time Traveler’s Pocket.

Do you use a technology that has a low reliability score?  Are you currently embroiled in an aeons long conflict with a time traveling race?  Do you have a really flighty assistant?

Then you need the Time Traveler’s Pocket.  This handy dandy device allows you to store emergency supplies in their own pocket dimension, outside of normal spacetime.  This allows you to access whatever you think you may need wherever and whenever you need it. (and let’s be honest, this isn’t the first time that catastrophe has struck)  From left handed spanners to a new power core to a BFG with all the upgrades, this beauty can store and protect it all.

So if an accident at Bikini Atoll knocks out your temporal nav chip, all you have to do is open the pocket and pull out a spare.  Lost your time appropriate ID? No problem since you thought to put your space in the pocket. Being chased by Glornak the Destroyer?  Sorry we can’t help you there. Rumor has it that guy is unstoppable and holds one hell of a grudge.

The best part about the pocket is that you never have to worry about losing the key.  We encode the pocket to your DNA and brain waves. All you have to do is reach behind your back, think the unlock command and Viola!  

Please be aware that this item is not exempt from issues regarding paradox or the general consensus. (Although it seems that use of this item is starting to become more accepted.  Think Mary Poppins bag, the Highlander G-string or the magic satchel)

So invest in your future, past, and present now.  Order the Time Traveler’s Pocket today!

 

Guard-a-Manger – Sheng Yusheng’s Lost Books

It took years of traveling and searching for you to find Sheng Yusheng’s lost books.  The calligraphy is exquisite. Something about this cave must have helped maintain it’s integrity over the last century.  Surely, it doesn’t have the magical powers the stories say. It wouldn’t hold the yao like that in this form. And what is that indention on the side of the case? A circle, but irregular? No matter.  It is what is inside that your object.

 

You read it slowly, at first.  The understanding and the ways that the book begins to put things in order just makes sense of the world. The slight stains where the pages have been turned belie the age of the books.  Clearly, someone else has read it before and over and over again, yet they didn’t seem to be here in this cave. Surely, the answer will present itself as you read.

 

The candle burned down, you realize.  That must be why it is so dark. And you must have fallen asleep from the reading.  A shame for sure that you did not have sufficient discipline to properly retire. But where is the book?  As your eyes adjust, you see a cave that is smooth and marked with tiling unlike what you have seen before.  Strange sounds begin to filter to your ears … have you passed over to the heavenly realm? And what is that bright lantern loudly racing towards you?

Lexicon

Rookery

noun  rook·ery  \ ˈru̇-kə-rē \

 

Definition of rookery
plural rookeries
1 a : the nests or breeding place of a colony of rooks; also : a colony of rooks
b : a breeding ground or haunt especially of gregarious birds or mammals (such as penguins or seals); also : a colony of such birds or mammals
2 : a crowded dilapidated tenement or group of dwellings

 

Etymology of the work Rookery

It seems to be a creation of modern English as it is spoken today

 

First Known Use of rookery
1704

 

Popularity: Bottom 30% of words

Closing remarks

Zendead- The Sandman Universe new line

 

Joules- Find a local haunted history tour.

 

Guard-a-Manger- JSA by Geoff Johns Vol. 2.

 

nulloperations – I did a book thing! Doppelganger: Draco Artifactium Book 1

I have a second: fun monopoly. Hardcore Tabletop

 

Music is courtesy of The Enigma TNG you can find his music on YouTube or on Bandcamp

 

Find us

Show- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Zendead- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Joules- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Nulloperations-Email, Twitter, Facebook

Guard-a-manger- Email, Twitter

 

And Thanks to Merriam-Webster for our Lexicon segment

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Once Niklaus’ history with the Sluagh had formed in my head, I knew he needed a Sluagh companion. As I had turned the usual expectations of Redcaps on their head with Niklaus, I thought I would go with something similar here.  I also wanted a childling in this Oathcircle, so a rather cute and precocious child of a friend serves as a bit of an inspiration for the rather disturbing Sluagh Maggie Pie.

I found the form fillable two page Sheets, and linked to them below, but I won’t repeat too much on the sheet that is going into the words below in the Character Notes.

Design Notes

Maggie Pie is definitely another Social character, though in a different way than Niklaus was last week.  A SLuagh Childling can be a creepy bug obsessed little scamp, or maybe a beauty pageant perennial runner up who is just a little … off for the judges.    Sometimes, it is more fun to find what the core concept is and work out from there instead of overly focusing on the immediate appearance. Sluagh are obsessed with secrets and knowledge, and so this is a gossip who collects knowledge a bit differently.  Sluagh and amazingly flexible and can Squirm into nearly any space while also possessing sharpened senses. They are cursed to not be able to speak louder than a whisper and while they are assumed to be Unseelie, they for the most part don’t have a great care one way or the other.  

The wise child trope is a trope, but for a reason.  Combining the Sluagh’s preoccupation with Secrets & knowledge with the need for a dour downer at times, her Unseelie Legacy is the Fatalist.  Conversely, her Seelie Legacy, when she can move beyond the future or lack thereof she sees, is Sage. As a Childling, the most imaginative of us all, Maggie Pie starts with 5 Glamour, 2 WIllpower, and 1 Banality.   

With Social as her primary, Maggie Pie easily has a 3,3, 4 starting attribute spread.  Even though she is a Sluagh, I want that 4 to be in Appearance because far too often the Sluagh were assumed to be unattractive.  It may bother or confuse you later, but especially as a childling and for the mundanes, she is a terribly cute little kiddo. With Mental Attributes as secondary, I start Maggie Pie off with a 2 Perception, 2 Intelligence, and 3 Wits.  WIth a Tertiary Physical Attribute selection, she is limited but a Childling ballerina with a 1 Strength, 3 Dexterity, and 2 Stamina works well.

Looking through my initial notes, Maggie Pie’s Primary Abilities are going to be in Talents (13) with Skills as Secondary (9).  I am beginning to worry that I may have made a bunch of characters without knowledges above Tertiary (5) which is terribly against my type. For Talents, we have a starting maximum rating of 3 for Alertness, Dodge, and Persuasion.  A pair of ranks each in Athletics, Kenning to be able to easily detect and perceive Glamour, and Subterfuge round out our Talent list. Skills have a premium for Performance to reflect her dancing with STealth also getting high marks because Sluagh are sneaky little fae.  A single dot each in Crafts, Melee, and Survival move us to the Tertiary Knowledges of Computer, Enigmas, Greymare, and Investigation. Small children these days seem to be quite naturally tuned into technology and the rest support her slightly nosy nature. .

For backgrounds, a Rank of Holdings to reflect the Freehold that is basis of this Oathchircle, but I think I will also give her a rank each of Mentor and Retinue.  Her Retinue is one of her parents, harried but loving, who drives their lovely daughter to and from all the pageants thinking the Oathcircle is a form of finishing school for pageants.  The Mentor is the Sluagh who sent her with Niklaus. The reason she has such an attention is the Two Ranks of Remembrance I will give her.

What Arts for Maggie Pie from the Core Rule Book lead me to Lederdemain and Chicanery – the two sneaky and underhanded Arts.  As Niklaus already shows more Chicanery, I’ll load Maggie Pie with Two Ranks of Legerdemain to start and a single Chicanery rank.  This lets her cloud the minds of those watching if she has appropriate realms, use little telekinetic like abilities, and otherwise be underfoot and cause problems. For Realms, or what these Arts may target in a Cantrip, I focus on Prop with 3 Ranks there so that Maggie Pie can affect clothes, tools, or even mechanical objects that don’t need fuel with her Legerdemain and then a single rank of Actor and Time.  She may set a few seconds delay sometimes and try to look cute but everybody knows she was the troublemaker.

Finally, we get to Freebie Points, Merits, and Flaws.  Freebie Points let you customize your character beyond what we’ve done already.  Merits are other bonuses or traits that don’t fit elsewhere and cost Freebie points while Flaws are the inverse providing a handful more Freebie points to spend. I want to increase her Intelligence to 3 which evens out her Mental Attributes and then to further her beauty pageant ways I will increase her Performance to 5 and her Persuasion to 4.  That is 11 of the 15 Freebie Points so far. One particular flaw caught my eye in the Sluagh Kithbook – Knows Too Much. This 5 point flaw means that Maggie Pie would not be terribly enthused or move with purpose for others plans … because she Knows Too Much. This Flaw means that Maggie Pie knows that there is no more reincarnation for Changelings – the Endless Winter IS coming and this is the final dance of the Dreaming.  Additionally, I will add Past Lives as a 2 Point Merit to further this deeper connection to the Dreaming where some of her previous lives will sometimes intrude on her current life. I’ll take Echoes at 2 points which has traditional faerie mythos affect Maggie Pie, such as salt over the shoulder. That means that I’ve got another 11 Freebie points to spend. I’ll increase Remembrance to 3 Ranks and look at my last 10. I’ll add two more ranks of Subterfuge, an additional Rank of Actor, and increase her Retinue to 2. I didn’t take the Child flaw, so for whatever reason she isn’t usually burdened the way other children would be with things like adult oversight and skeptical doormen.

Character Notes

Even Sluagh don’t know what to do with Maggie Pie.  Margaret is a strange child to the Sluagh and the time spent gathering secrets.  A rather vibrant and precocious child, Maggie Pie’s Chrysalis formed at a beauty pageant where she saw the secrets take root before the very judging panel itself.

Margaret became Maggie Pie in that instant and has been enamoured of the dreams and deep hopes so many put on pageants since then. She found out, however, that she would be the last of the line – the end of this Sluagh story.  She saw and sensed that the Endless Winter was coming and there would be no reincarnation for her fae self. That’s okay, though, because there are still secrets to ferret out among the humans and the fae.

Nobody knew what to do with her, though.  Her own parents were completely lost as their little angel fell deeper into her dreams, but once they became Enchanted that all stopped.  Now, they see the world as Maggie Pie sees it, and they take Margaret around to her pageants knowing it is Maggie Pie all along. Accepting, and indeed loving, their little fae daughter and the world that she found.  Of course as humans stuck between two worlds and trying to protect Maggie Pie from Margaret’s own banal existence hasn’t always been the easiest of tasks.

The Sluagh, by contrast, were not used to the outgoing Maggie Pie who wouldn’t sit still for anything, much less tea! She knew this was all just wasting time, so she intended to have her fun and to steal what secrets she could.  Tea was not the way she. Would. Spend. Her. Time.

A Seelie Redcap offered a rare opportunity to fix this.  Niklaus owed the Sluagh for the Secrets and the time he shared with high tea … and had a remarkable sense of etiquette and propriety.  He would do nicely, and would serve to protect this Childling who had begun to demonstrate a remembrance of the past beyond other Sluagh.  The price was agreed upon and Niklaus became the nanny to Maggie Pie when her enchanted parents would not do.

Baron Gottfried was … less than plussed to have this commoner childling …. Sluagh around his court but little could be done.  Even Baron Gottfried wouldn’t throw a childling out of the Freehold, even one who kept whispering the secrets of the Court at the most inopportune times.  Niklaus’s attempts to teach Maggie Pie etiquette were so often rejoined with “ but you know that they don’t like you even when you use the right fork?” that his perseverance was annoying to Maggie Pie.  She went with him, though, when a new Freehold was discovered. Baron Gottfried got rid of her with Niklaus, but she knew there was something more to be found in the Vale. Denys may only tolerate her, but it’s beginning to look like she knows more than the rest of them about the Vale.  If only she cared enough to tell them before Winter swallows them all.

Maggie Pie – Childling Sluagh Problemmaker Character Sheet

Changeling: The Dreaming & The Uncovered Vale Overview Here.

 

Character Sheet from Mr. Gone’s Character Sheets.

 

World of Darkness, Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire: The Dark Ages, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Wraith: The Oblivion, Changeling: The Dreaming, Hunter: The Reckoning, Demon: The Fallen, Mummy: The Resurrection, Orpheus, Exalted, Chronicles of Darkness, White Wolf, and their respective logos, icons and symbols are trademarks or registered trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment. ©2018 White Wolf Entertainment AB, Västgötagatan 5, SE-118 27 Stockholm, Sweden.  Seize the GM is a fan work and is not affiliated with White Wolf Entertainment. This work is made as criticism and review of the published work – no claim of ownership is intended or implied.  Please visit https://www.white-wolf.com/ or http://theonyxpath.com/category/worlds/classicworldofdarkness/ for more information.

One of my favorite concepts is in Niklaus – a Seelie Redcap who excels at etiquette and politics.  He is voracious in his own way and the idea of the well dressed and well behaved monster evokes great power.  Niklaus is admittedly at a mechanical disadvantage as Redcaps are penalized in social situations, but good role playing may always help overcome that.  

I found the form fillable two page Sheets, and linked to them below, but I won’t repeat too much on the sheet that is going into the words below in the Character Notes.

Design Notes

Denys was always going to need some help from someone more politically astute than he is.  Niklaus then made an appearance from the dusty notebooks of the late 1990s Changeling games.  A Redcap Courtier is just enough of bucking expectations and easy builds, while still having that hint of interest, that I have never been able to resist.  The first faerie birthright of a Redcap is the ability to eat anything. Yes, anything. The second is their ability to intimidate or browbeat anything. Yes, anything.  Even things you can’t normally intimidate. The flip side is that other fae see them as only bullies and they face increased difficulties on social rolls that are not the intimidation.  

Keeping with the overall conceit, Niklaus is a Seelie Redcap, which was a definite rarity at the time I first conceived of him. His Seelie Legacy is unsuprisingly Courtier where he revels in the battleground of the tea time and the sharpened edges of etiquette.  His Unseelie side, never far from his surface, is the Peacock – he knows he is by far the most interesting and most accomplished Wilder of his generation. These churls should recognize that immediately. Wilders begin with 4 Glamour, 2 WIllpower, and 3 Banality.  

Niklaus has Social Attributes as Primary with Mental as Secondary leaving his Physical Attributes to be tertiary. He is, after all, a Courtier not a Fighter.  I don’t want to play up the Caliban style beauty in a stranger form way, so I start with 4 Charisma, 4 Manipulation, and an average 2 Appearance. His Mental Attributes start with a 3 in both Perception and Wits and an average 2 in Intelligence for now.  His Physical Attributes are straight 2s. Unassuming physically, and atypical for most Redcaps, but a voracious beast at Court.

His Knowledges are certainly his Primary (13) with Skills in Secondary (9) and the fewest Talents (5). Niklaus will start with the maximum 3 in Intimidation as a Talent with two more ranks in Subterfuge to round that category out.  Looking to his Primary Knowledges, the maximum of 3 ranks in Politics and Lore seems like a good start with Law and Linguistics at 2 each and a passing understanding of Investigation, Enigmas, and Greymare. His Etiquette will obviously start at 3 from everything I’ve talked about with 2 ranks in Leadership and Security just in case he needs to pick a lock.  He is a more than capable advisor to Denys and understand in much more detail just what is happening in a courtly setting.

Treasure, Chimera, Holding, and Resources.  Straightforward options to begin with. He needs his stipend, his bag, and the Holding represents his membership in the Oathcircle should he wish to draw upon the Vale’s Glamour. He has a Treasure that is his leather bag, seeming to be in style with everything he wears into which he can keep an assortment of objects that reflect his seemingly polished existence.  Similarly, his Chimera is a tea set that with some mysteries for later play. 

In the Faerie Magic realm, we look first at his Arts – Chicanery is the sole Art for Niklaus to begin with.  Chicanery represents Trickery & Befuddlement such as subtly altering a target’s perceptions or causing them to forget a salient detail for a bit of time.  Perfect for the Courtier Niklaus aspires to be seen as. For Realms, or what these Arts may target in a Cantrip, I start with a broad spectrum of realms with a rank in Actor, Fae, Nature, Prop, and Scene to provide the greatest opportunities to our daring social climber.  In the Second Edition that we are using, the Actor, Fae, Nature, and Prop Realms would define the basic target of a Cantrip and the Scene and Time Realms could be used to change to an area of effect or set a timer on the Cantrips. It worked well.

Finally, we get to Freebie Points, Merits, and Flaws.  Freebie Points let you customize your character beyond what we’ve done already.  Merits are other bonuses or traits that don’t fit elsewhere and cost Freebie points while Flaws are the inverse providing a handful more Freebie points to spend. I know 8 points will be put immediately into getting both Etiquette and Intimidation to the maximum 5 ranks – with the uproad battle all Redcaps face in Social settings he needs this.  That’s 8 points of the 15 Freebies already spent. For Flaws, I am going to add Overconfidence, which certainly seems to fit Niklaus high opinion of himself and a 2 point Enemy from that in Baron Gottfried’s Court. A 3 Point Allergy to Cold Iron actually harming Niklaus plays to his fae nature well also. We still have a total of 13 points left to spend and I will first make Intelligence a 3 for 5 points adding to his better than anyone else feeling.  Rather than merits, I am going to add a handful of Contacts, primarily Sluagh as a lead in to Maggie Pie, and extra ranks of Willpower. Additionally, his Resources will be a stipend of some form – a refound inheritance from a lost family member perhaps. His Treasure is his leather bag from which he can take his Coat Rack, Shoe Trees, and Etiquette manuals and not the least is his Chimerical boon of the Tea Set that is ever warm and ever full… and how he would love to learn it had the Sovereign Art power Protocol imbued in it to enforce the rules of high tea on all at the table.

 

Character Notes

The Redcap known as Niklaus von Eatenbach is a rarity, and in many ways an outcast amongst even the fae.  A Seelie Redcap more at home in Court than in the alleys or battlefields, he is a fae between worlds and one with few places he truly fits in. Nick’s careful and cultivated dandy appearance is reflected in his fae mien and he strikes a dashing figure in the COurt even more so when others fae realize that he is a Redcap.

When Niklaus was only Nick, he was a fairly simple boy.  He liked to play in the dirt. He pulled little girls pigtails.  He was a little bit of a bully but was bullied a little bit too. He didn’t seem to be all that different from any other boy.  His parents were proud of him for sure – what parent doesn’t love their only child? Well, perhaps pride is an overstatement.

His parents tolerated him and his mediocrity.  They didn’t know quite what to make of him and quite what to do with him.  He just stumbled through the years and was a solidly unimpressive young man.  And then around 13 years old, something changed for Nick. He went with his father to work that day – his father dressed in a suit that didn’t really fit him but was easily purchased off the rack.  His tie just a notch too tight and just a bit too gauche to truly fit, but Nick didn’t notice it… yet. Across a table from his father in a meeting was a shark. Not a real shark, but a metaphorical shark that seemed to emanate waves of fear to everyone in the room.  His suit was tailored and styled, but not too flashy. His demeanor held a carefully chained menace ….. Nick became Niklaus when he saw a monster across the table and hunting through the suited rooms as much as the creatures hunted in the forest.

It wasn’t long before he was found after his Chrysalis and the fae who found him remarked at how unusual it was – clearly a redcap but his mien covered in a stylish suit of timeless quality and a blood red bowler atop his head.  He saw himself as a monster of similar makeup … and so his perception would become reality. He threw himself into learning what he could about etiquette and these finer things. He saw a way that he would set himself apart – he saw the shock and fear in the fae’s eyes at him just as much as his mortal teachers didn’t understand the 15 year old in a bow tie. His “Uncle” provided a stipend in the form of a trust that he now could access as someone wanted to make sure he was able to keep the Baron on his toes.   

Baron Gottfried, you see, could scarcely contain his absolute loathing for Niklaus – a Redcap that could keep up with all of the protocol it took in a COurt. The Baron’s own anger would bubble to the surface but never did Niklaus lose his cool in front of the nobles … their fear would only grow as he comported himself better than many Sidhe. He saw the old Troll in the corner, quietly watching the entire scene and the Satyr about his age who would challenge her “betters” frequently.    

Maggie Pie was a special case, though. Niklaus didn’t realize just what an honor it was when he was invited to a Sluagh High Tea.  He slipped in and listened to the rumors, adding his own. He shared the information he could, and away from the tea time made several deals with Sluagh to learn more.  He came away with a boon and a price – the Dreaming itself left a tea set nicely wrapped and packaged in a chimerically enameled case for him. He had found his place … and so the Sluagh decided that this Redcap may be better suited to teach Maggie Pie a bit more of the etiquette that was expected of her.  A Redcap could impress with manners, and for no reason could they let this Childling not.

Moving into his senior year of High School, Niklaus saw the tension and stress that was building.  Baron Gottfried’s own failings gave Niklaus the greatest opportunity he could know – a new Freehold.  Before he could even volunteer, Baron Gottfried had dispatched Niklaus to be part of the retinue of the Seneschal of the Uncovered Vale – the same old and tired Troll he had seen skulking about Court! This Squire Denys tried but lacked the insight into the politics and etiquette of Court and the Sidhe A steady arm for sure but here, Niklaus could offer his insight and his knowledge.  Here Niklaus would prove that even a Troll could manage the weight of a Freehold … of they have a certain Redcap beside them.

 

Niklaus von Eatenbach – Redcap Courtier Character Sheet

Changeling: The Dreaming & The Uncovered Vale Overview Here.

 

Character Sheet from Mr. Gone’s Character Sheets.

 

World of Darkness, Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire: The Dark Ages, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Wraith: The Oblivion, Changeling: The Dreaming, Hunter: The Reckoning, Demon: The Fallen, Mummy: The Resurrection, Orpheus, Exalted, Chronicles of Darkness, White Wolf, and their respective logos, icons and symbols are trademarks or registered trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment. ©2018 White Wolf Entertainment AB, Västgötagatan 5, SE-118 27 Stockholm, Sweden.  Seize the GM is a fan work and is not affiliated with White Wolf Entertainment. This work is made as criticism and review of the published work – no claim of ownership is intended or implied.  Please visit https://www.white-wolf.com/ or http://theonyxpath.com/category/worlds/classicworldofdarkness/ for more information.

Episode 60: How much map is enough?
Regular Shows

 
 
00:00 / 58:01
 
1X
 

Main Topic

Today we will add another voice to the mix. Author of a book I shouted out in Episode 57, D.N. Frost. She is going to help up talk about what it means to make maps and how not to back yourself into a corner when mapping.

 

What do you use to make a map? Start with pen & paper.  Graphic Design experience isn’t required, and is less frequent.  Doodle a coastline on your paper or in a design program. From their you can shape the mountains and forests around those.  It moves down to labels eventually, but pen and paper is organic and easy to start over. It is easier to treat it as a rough draft and to evolve or iterate your map from that paper and pen version.  

 

How Much Map is Too Much map? How Much Map is Too Little map? When Map Making is for world building and storytelling on its own, the internal results of the mapping process creates the more viscerally understood setting.  The Map is Too Much when you overwhelm when sharing the maps with your audience (readers, players, or others) . As long as you know your map audience and your map, you can’t over map.  Know your audience and know what you need from it.

 

Don’t Overlook Earth’s Amazing Features.  We have an amazing amount of terrain and even unexplained features on Earth right now. Don’t overlook the wonder outside your door and around the world that may inspire you.

Stat Blocks

Zendead-

 

nulloperations- The Pitcher’s Talon


Small, easy to miss, but incredibly sharp; this talon appears at first glance to be an ordinary piece of keratin torn from a limb of some bird of prey attached to a cord and able to be worn as a necklace. Whenever this talon is held or worn on the body, its properties extend to certain objects thrown by the wearer. The objects must be small enough to be thrown one handed, and once released they will sail towards the thrower’s exact goal regardless of the distance.


Any distance.

If a plane is spotted miles away, the thrown object will fly to it at uncanny speeds. Distant moons are not off limit, although the survivability of objects travelling through open space at such speeds should be considered. Note: it is not recommended to throw live objects in this manner. A clear view must be visible between the thrower and the target, and even moderate fog can muddle the effects of the talon.

 

Guard-a-Manger- Sacrementum Letterman Jacket

 

You see it sitting in the thrift shop, alone in the corner of the store.  A letterman jacket with a stylized “M” over the left breast. A classic piece of Americana from some unknown school.  It’s turning chilly right now, so you think it’s as good as anything to keep you warm. It even gives you a little bit of flair and style, since you never quite made the team after the car wreck that left your knee  just a little bit off.

 

The jacket felt a little heavy the first few times you wore it but it cut the wind well.  It felt like a pick me up, a boost, a bit of an inspiration to move your feet a little bit faster.  It is like a good coach that always knew just the right words of motivation. It felt good to actually move again, like high school.  It felt like you had found some little part of your youth. Never mind the occasional nosebleed …. Or that a friend would keep tripping when you were around. The warmth of the jacket was something that brought you hope.

 

It’s the question of the “M” … the SacreMentum from the tag that keeps coming back to your brain.  There is no record of this school anywhere in the Tristate area and its mystery is nearly unfathomable.  The worst part is that you are starting to see other people in these jackets … but none of them will talk to you. They seem to be watching you … and when you run, it’s almost like they are evaluating you.  Scouting you.

 

For a new team.  

 

Lexicon

 

Fumarole  noun fu·ma·role  \ ˈfyü-mə-ˌrōl \

 

Definition
: a hole in a volcanic region from which hot gases and vapors issue

 

Origin and Etymology of fumarole
Italian fumarola, from Italian dialect (Neapolitan), from Late Latin fumariolum vent, from Latin fumarium smoke chamber for aging wine, from fumus

 

First Known Use: 1811

 

Popularity: Bottom 20% of words

 

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I knew from the get go that Denys was going to make an appearance.  Aside from basing him on one of my characters, I needed a way to bridge the Noble and Commoner divide without it just being the Noble Sidhe with grumbling and challenging commoner underlings.  I needed someone who would literally straddle both worlds. Aside from that, I wanted to make sure I had a flawed leader and a potential Grump to show off the breadth of the system.

I found the form fillable two page Sheets, and linked to them below, but I won’t repeat too much on the sheet that is going into the words below in the Character Notes.

Design Notes

Conceiving of the character for Squire Denys, I know I want a weary and put upon Commoner who has a touch of Noble in him.  Trolls are a good choice because many have accepted Noble rank, they are generally respected, and I like the idea of a Grump troll in charge of these troublemakers in the Oathcircle. Trolls have additional Strength when dealing with their Chimerical nature, are Stubborn to the point of 2 bonus dice when making a Willpower roll to avoid distraction from duty, and cannot botch Athletics or Alertness tests.  The downside is that when they break a contract or oath, they lose that Strength and if they have their trust betrayed, they are likely to erupt with righteous fury.

For Noble Houses, I go with the House Liam for story reasons because they are the most well looked upon by the commoners of the Houses in the Changeling Book, so it would politically make sense and because it makes it easy to have political machinations to challenge his “rule” of this new freehold.  He won’t need to advertise his allegiance to House Liam for it to be a liability in his position. Currently Seelie, his dominant Legacy will be Paladin – he wants to right wrongs and protect people and that is something that has defined him. His Unseelie Legacy, should be switch Courts, is the Outlaw – why should he follow rules or laws.  He can take what he wants and he will. As a Grump, he starts with 3 Glamour, 5 WIllpower, and 5 Banality but as a member of House Liam he has an additional point of Banality to start. This means that, like all Grumps, he will be fighting for some Glamour in every adventure just to try to stay ahead of the Undoing, or losing their faerie mien and memories to the slow slide of banality.  

His Physical Attributes will be primary, followed by Mental and lastly Social.  He is a leader with little in the way of Social Graces. As a Grump Troll, rather than start at a 1 Strength, Denys will Start at 3! Hat makes it easy to bump him to a 6 Strength, 3 Dexterity, and 3 Stamina playing into his stalwart man mountain appearance.  SImilarly, his Mental Attributes break down to Perception 2; Intelligence 3; and Wits 3 while his Social Attributes are 2 for each of Charisma, Manipulation, and Appearance. He is a strong and shrewd Troll, but not really one that was expected to be talking in Court.

I started jotting down which Abilities I thought would go well for him, and ended up with a Primary Talents (13), Secondary Skills (9), and Tertiary Knowledges (5).  First and foremost, he starts with the max of 3 out of 5 ranks in Melee so he can use his large and fearsome Maul in Chimerical combat. I rounded out his Secondary Skills with tossing a rank each of Leadership and Etiquette just to show he has been trying to learn and then two ranks each of Crafts and Drive.  His Primary Talents meant two ranks in Alertness, Athletics, Brawl, and Dodge with three in Intimidation and a passing familiarity with Empathy and Streetwise. His knowledges with a rank in Politics and Law continue that attempt to be a better Noble and then a few skills to show his innate curiosity.

Backgrounds begin straightforward – he has a Rank of Title because he is a Noble Squire.  Then we provide two ranks of Holdings to reflect the Unearthed Vale Freehold and his position as Regent or Seneschal that can draw some Glamour from it.  I’ll give him a rank of Resources to reflect his Painting and a Rank of Treasure as well to start.

In the Faerie Magic realm, we look first at his Arts – I picked Soothsay, Wayfare, and Primal. To be honest, these are such wildly useful starting Arts that it is hard not to pick them at times.  Soothsay as the name portends is about seeing the future and fate; one rank allows for omens to be made in the Cantrip based on what realms you have. Wayfare is the Art of movement and speed which allows at the first Rank a Cantrip to allow the target to take great leaps and bounds! Remarkable to see a Troll in chimerical armor and with a Maul bound to the top of a second story building, isn’t it? Primal revolves around the natural world and evoking and manipulating it – Willow Whispers allows a Cantrip that will communicate with anything made from the natural world short of cold iron.  For Realms, or what these Arts may target in a Cantrip, I start with two ranks of Actor, one of Fae, One of Prop, and one of Scene. In the Second Edition that we are using, the Actor, Fae, Nature, and Prop Realms would define the basic target of a Cantrip and the Scene and Time Realms could be used to change to an area of effect or set a timer on the Cantrips. It worked well.

Finally, we get to Freebie Points, Merits, and Flaws.  Freebie Points let you customize your character beyond what we’ve done already.  Merits are other bonuses or traits that don’t fit elsewhere and cost Freebie points while Flaws are the inverse providing a handful more Freebie points to spend. One of the things I like about Trolls is adding Huge Size and Seemings Blessing.  Trolls are already large, but with Huge Size it takes on prodigious, professional American football lineman sizes. Seemings Blessing allows the fae to still have access to their Fae birthrights and powers even around mortals. So … as a Troll … who is Huge and Muscled …. Denys will get to retain his 6 Strength to do things like pick up cars or maybe shotput a motorcycle on occasion.  That’s 9 points of the 15 Freebies already though and I want to spent two more on raising his Melee to 4. I plan to drop the remaining 4 into Backgrounds to round out this Grump but first I want to scan the flaws to see if anything jumps out as a good way to get a few more freebies and provide some characterization. I think SUrreal Quality and Chimerical Magnet sound like good Flaws for Denys.  This is another 7 points, to our maximum Freebie point total of 22. These two together help explain why he is a tired Grump as Chimera seem to make a beeline for him, both to annoy but also on a rampage and humans seem struck for some reason by this large man. I’ll add a few more dots of Chimera and Dreamers and increase his permanent Glamour to 4 to get it a little closer to his Banality. That leave 3 more Freebie points and I think that I will look at adding Danger Sense as a 2 Point Merit and 1 Point of Past Lives to remember vague whispers of life before the SIdhe returned. I thought about True Love, but for story purposes, I would rather have Denys in a lost love situation.  

His Treasure is best suited to his Maul, though armor was a tempting idea.  I think that his Maul is imbued with the power to leave a wave of cold in the air behind it.  A variation of some primal cantrip powers. Similarly, while I wanted his Chimera to include a cute little dragon on his shoulder, I am going for the more functional armor that gleams with the colors of House Liam.  The Dreamers reflect the Artists Collective he is still a member of, though it has dwindled, and the Resources from the sale of the art itself.

 

Character Notes

Squire Denys seemed to be on the downslope of his time with his fellow fae.  He had a distinguished time as a Wilder, a Squire to a Sidhe Knight of House Gwydion.  In fact, the two in High School were inseparable with Denys playing the Center to his sworn Lord’s Quarterback.  It seems far too long ago and many dreams back for Denys.

Denys Chrysalis was long ago – a boy of only 7 he woke to the power of imagination and was just beyond the veil of “normalcy.” Despite being a Troll, and obviously destined for combat, it was the strokes of a paintbrush that truly touched young Denis.  He saw it first, the wonder of the world of Chimera and Dreams when he wandered away from his family and up a hill – the sunset was uniquely beautiful and, in a moment he never has forgotten, eye opening. He began painting, in the human’s world and the Dreaming where his large and rough hands found it more difficult to grasp the brush, but also more rewarding to complete a work.  By the time he was 15, Denis has taken on considerable responsibilities. He was dutybound after all, and his own sense of honor meant carrying on protecting others after his parents died. He was already the biggest kid on the block, and he already watched out for the neighborhood kids. He took the chance to be emancipated, demonstrating to the mortal world his responsibility.

Denys made his name in the Fae world as a Wilder.  He had his Knight to follow and protect, but had a measure of independence that was unusual for squires.  He had a block he watched over away from the Fae Court, but was drawn repeatedly into the Dreaming’s machinations.  Chimera and the creatures of the Fae seemed to be drawn to Denys. He continued to sell his landscapes and paintings as a way to make ends meet.  Well over 6’6” tall, with a mohawk that set him further apart, his motorcycle and leather jacket made him instantly recognizable. He found a community of artists who would paint together and share some of the inspiration … he found his Dreamers in this time. It was a time of pride and protection for Denys.  He kept his friends safe, he served the Court. He even discovered a Troll’s size was no impediment to Courtly Love – the Eshu Whispering Wind captured his eyes and his painters soul. He found an artists collective where he could harvest Glamour and for a while, it seemed that life was as it should be for a crusading Troll.

He never seemed to quite make the leap from squire to Knight, though.  Perhaps it was the subtle nod to the Noble House that had taken a pledge – Liam.  He saw the wanderings of House Liam and their protection of common fae so fully in line with his own life, that it was a natural fit.  Certainly, Countess Brianna likely suspected his allegiance, but no words were ever spoken. No case ever made to drum him out. Yet, Baron Gottfried also never elevated him and the Knight that Denys protected moved on to another Barony, leaving Denys behind.  

In many ways, Denys was left behind in both the mortal and fae realms.  His devotion and honor did not mean that he would be on a path to success and recognition.  

Time passes for fae in ways more cruel and more roughly than it does for mortals, or even other prodigals.  Denys, never passing beyond a Squire, always a step away from the commoners, he was slowly slipping towards Undoing as a Grump.  He was trying to protect the Barony less and less – more taunted now by cruel chimera than inspired to fight, Denys was on the sidelines of the Court.  He saw Niklaus arrive at Court and the way he shocked the Sidhe as a Redcap who held his mien just … so. He watched as his old High School took in new students with Niklaus like Paul and Alex – an earnest soul and a passionate crusader if ever he saw.  He began to see the world in good hands. He began to let himself fade.

The Countess put a stop to that with one simple request – protect the people from this fight Squire.  How could he refuse? This new Freehold was a great boon to the fae, but the squabbling over who owned it threatened them all.  He took the mantle of Seneschal, with the promise of Knighthood to follow, on the condition that he could make an Oathcircle of commoners to stand with him in the new Freehold. And so it was done. Baron Gottfried “suggested” Niklaus as a representative in an attempt to frustrate Denys, but instead provided one of Denys’ greatest assets.  Maggie Pie came along with Niklaus, though few asked the creepy yet adorable sluagh why. It was perhaps most surprising that Alex volunteered but her crusader nature saw this as a chance to break free and Paul … well Paul knew he could help people. And he was sort of falling for her.

Squire Denys, Seneschal of the Uncovered Vale doesn’t know quite what will be coming next.  He is tired but was called to serve once more. Perhaps Whispering Wind will come back to the Barony.  Perhaps he will finally see his knighthood granted. Perhaps Banality will finally call him home after so long with nothing to show for it.  

Squire Denys – Grump Troll Seneschal

Changeling: The Dreaming & The Uncovered Vale Overview Here.

 

Character Sheet from Mr. Gone’s Character Sheets

 

World of Darkness, Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire: The Dark Ages, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Wraith: The Oblivion, Changeling: The Dreaming, Hunter: The Reckoning, Demon: The Fallen, Mummy: The Resurrection, Orpheus, Exalted, Chronicles of Darkness, White Wolf, and their respective logos, icons and symbols are trademarks or registered trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment. ©2018 White Wolf Entertainment AB, Västgötagatan 5, SE-118 27 Stockholm, Sweden.  Seize the GM is a fan work and is not affiliated with White Wolf Entertainment. This work is made as criticism and review of the published work – no claim of ownership is intended or implied.  Please visit https://www.white-wolf.com/ or http://theonyxpath.com/category/worlds/classicworldofdarkness/ for more information.

For whatever reason, my mind has been back in the 1990s lately and specifically in the World of Darkness – the Original World of Darkness.  Perhaps it is the launch of the fifth edition Vampire RPG, but I wanted to revisit the World of Darkness, and in particular what is arguably the most divisive of that line – Changeling: The Dreaming.  

Changeling: The Dreaming was the fifth of the five World of Darkness core games put out by White Wolf Game Studio in the 90s which began with Vampire: The Masquerade. It was a unique game even within what was at the time a rather revolutionary game design being used by White Wolf and created a fervent fan base but one that was smaller than the other games.  Despite a second edition, Changeling was transitioned to the Arthouse imprint White Wolf developed to maintain lines and properties that were not generating sufficient profit to be in the main line. Arthouse failed, however, to really advance the line or even put out much in the way of new books. Changeling:The Dreaming had the brightest colored books in the OWOD line because it was, in my opinion, also the most tragic. In working on this project, my love of the game and setting was rekindled and, as has happened with other Card  Catalog series, it’s inspired me to go spend some money on the Changeling: The Dreaming 20th Anniversary book from Onyx Path Publishing (and the Boggan Kithbook promised to us 20 years ago but only just delivered in 2018).

Usually, I would save this for Setting Notes, but the way in which Changeling ended and it’s absolutely polarizing status deserves some discussion.  What I saw in Changeling was the inevitability of loss – you were going to lose your fight against banality as a concept eventually. There wasn’t really anything you could do.  It provided the immediacy of imagination and the value of it, in an almost metadefense of tabletop role playing games when it still needed a defense, while providing the biggest differentiation from the other WWGS games.  Changeling was a victim in some ways to having the least clear metaplot of the OWOD setting; the First Edition had stories but no overarching movement to the world. This left some supplements and writers to take things in different directions that fed that confusion.  While steeped heavily in Celtic mythology, it wasn’t solely tied to it with the Core rulebook incorporating character types from Africa, Russia, and Nordic folklore. As the books expanded, the folklore available exploded the potential character concepts and a game born of imagination that was showing an explosion of imaginative concepts suffered for showing too much.

The Second Edition began to show some metaplot and to create some dynamism in the setting, but it also suffered from having a rehash of the other plots being foisted upon it in the midst of a larger direct plot.  No longer was the inevitable winter the danger that was an existential threat, which couldn’t be seen, but the precursor evil and powerful beings were stirring and making their way back to the world.  This just felt like a retread of the Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse metaplots. The imepnding fae civil war from the kidnapping of High King David never really came to fruition. Players seemed taken aback by the concept of courtly love and Romance creating a difficult time for the writers who faced a world built around courtly intrigue where these Romances and romances would matter.  While shuffled off to the ArtHouse imprint of White Wolf, Changeling at best only maintained the niche but passionate fan base. Changeling:The Dreaming wasn’t given a nice wrap up like Wraith: The Oblivion, the other underperforming core OWOD book, and instead slowly withered on the vine with releases petering out and support dwindling until it was just one chapter in a book that collected the end of all the leftover lines in the OWOD.  Sadly fitting to the larger themes of Changeling:The Dreaming.

System Notes

We took a look at the Storyteller System a bit when we looked at the offshoot Street Fighter setting published by White Wolf.  As a refresher, if you don’t want to go reread my magnum opus of street fighter stables, the Storyteller System builds dice pools by combining a an Attribute with an Ability for a number of d10s.  IN the first edition of the Storyteller System games, the target numbers were variable allowing a Storyteller to set the difficulty but in the Second Edition, White Wolf streamlined the system by setting a static target number and having Storytellers adjust how many successes were needed.  A ranking of 5 is considered the best a normal human could achieve in an attribute or an ability.

Before you reach your actual traits to score, the game asks you to consider your Fae Legacies, which take the place of other games Nature and Demeanor – because the Seelie & UnSeelie courts now mirror each other and Fae shift between them, you have two legacies to help shape your character.  The Seelie are the classical nurturing and honorable fae while the Unseelie see Honor as a lie and ravage human dreamers for their own sustenance. This is also where you make some initial choices like what kith, or species of fae, you will be playing and what age- Childling, Wilder, or Grump.  These three choices – which Court your currently follow, your kith, and your Seeming – are the most consequential in shaping your character to follow.

Attributes are divided into three categories, with three attributes in each.  Your physical Attributes encompass Strength, Dexterity, and Stamina while your Mental Attributes included Perception, Intelligence, and Wits.  The Social Attributes were Charisma, Manipulation, and Appearance. The OWOD Storyteller System games had a set of 10 Abilities in each of the three classifications of Abilities – Talents, Skills, and Knowledges.  The specific Abilities would change from game to game, as the core focus of the game may have different concerns but they could all be used together or imported between games easily.

Each of the five OWOD Games differentiated the greatest in the Advantages Section.  This includes the Backgrounds, special powers, and virtues that changed from game to game.  Where a Vampire would have a Blood Pool and a measure of Humanity, Changeling for example tracked both Glamour (imagination and inspiration) as well as Banality (the mundane day to day dreariness).  Changelings magic system was unique in OWOD.  Changeling Cantrips are combinations of Arts, which define an effect, and Realms which define the targets of the effect.  To accomplish these also requires a Bunk, or some sort of action invoking the glamour behind the Cantrip. In First Edition, you bought or made a deck of cards with the various Arts, Realms, and Bunks and would need to draw a hand to see what you had to cast them.  If this sounds familiar, that would be because WWGS also used a Card based concept in Street Fighter around the same time as Changeling was released. While the idea of combining an effect with a target is great and we’ve seen it carry through into other aspects of gaming since then, the card and the complexity of the original Cantrip rules were a bit of a barrier.  Second Edition did away with the card and the more random part of that system, standardizing the effects somewhat. For the purposes of Card Catalog, we will be using the Second Edition rules (and setting) We’ll talk more about the specific Arts and Realms in the individual Character Creation sections to come.

Changelings Virtues included the aforementioned Glamour and Banality, but you determined the starting values based on your age.  Changeling very much leaned into the idea that the youthful are more imaginative and that growing old means growing up and leaving behind your “imaginary” friends.  I’ll make one Childling and one Grump in the characters just for some diversity while we are at it.

To recap, a pool of d10s ranging from 1 to 10 made by adding up an Attribute score and an Ability Score is rolled against a static target number to determine an effect.  Changelings can cast magic called Cantrips through the interaction of their Arts and Realms which are fueled by Glamour and Willpower while trying to resist acquiring too much banality which would undo their chimerical essence.

 

Setting Notes

Born of the magic of imagination and belief, the Fae were always with us and shared our world.  It wasn’t until the Sundering, when imagination was limited and the trods to Arcadia closed that the Changelings ever had to deal with being trapped here with us.  They adapted, and shared bodies and souls with us to insulate themselves from the banality of our realm – the very lack of imagination and wonder would slowly undo them.  The nobles, for the most part, had tucked tail and ran back to Arcadia while the Commoners made their way through the world for hundreds of years with the Sidhe’s high handed rulership. It was harder now, where there was no retreat to the land of pure wonder and dreams.  The banality of this world beat down on the fae at every turn and grew heavier with every year of their life. The commoners found a way to share be born into the bodies of humans, shielding them from the worse effects but forcing them to live a double life ever balancing between the chimerical fae world just beneath the surface the the banality inducing day to day life of their body.

All that changed in the summer of 1969.  When humans landed on the moon, the trods long closed tore open and through those passages came nobles who had long abandoned our world.  The sidhe returned and tried to reassert their feudal structure. This did not go well. A war broke out between the Commoners who stayed behind and who had adapted to this world and the newly returning Sidhe lords and ladies seeking dominance. Something had them fleeing Arcadia, but what and why was left unanswered. The sidhe were not as inured to the ravages of banality, but this did not stop them from claiming newly reinvigorated Fae Freeholds.

The war wound down when a young sidhe found possession of Caliburn, the legendary sword that was the basis for excalibur.  As the war finished and this young David was crowned the High King, he made overtures to the Commoners and to the disgraced House Liam.  He spoke for more than just the returning Sidhe as a world born new wildling. The War ended, some Commoners found Noble rank, and the Kingdoms of Concordia pledged their fealty to the High King of Tara Nor – David Ardry.  It is only lately, as tensions mount that the High King’s future comes into question.

In the decades since, the High King holding on to his fae mien through judicious time in faerie freeholds holding banality at bay, the Shadow Court has arisen as a true faction.  The Gallain – creatures of pure nightmare without any part of the higher hopes and dreams – returned as well pushing on the shaky foundations of the faerie world. Noble Houses engage in backstabbing and plotting to try to take over the Kingdoms and Duchies that populate this chimerical phantasm of a world they straddle.  And then High King David was kidnapped. And Caliburn is in the hands of a commoner – an Eshu … War is brewing in Concordia and the fae can not stop a war of their own making.

The Uncovered Vale

It gets complicated when freeholds show up from nothing.  While the Sidhe were away, the commoners took the Freeholds and they kept the Commoners alive.  When the Sidhe returned, the trods opened just as Freeholds awoke leaving more for the nobles to claim.  The Accordance War may have left feudal structures intact, but the Common fae held more voice and power now than ever before.  So when a Freehold no fae knew of is found in the County, there is a rush to claim it.

A freehold alone could elevate a Knight to a Baron or make a Baron far more powerful.  Which House should hold this new Freehold, and as the intrigues swirled, the answers become more and more complicated.  Baron Godfried of House Gwydion certainly made a strong claim to a Freehold in, though just at the edge, of his Barony! The Parliament of Commoners proposed a truce and a stop gap – a Noble commoner could keep it safe with an Oathcircle of their closest fae.  It wasn’t a returned Sidhe gaining more power but neither was it a commoner motley thumbing their noses at the Sidhe. This was a plan that worked.

The Oathcircle formed around the Freehold as an exercise in political machinations.  The Countess Brianna of the Shattered Lance of House Fiona needed a Noble commoner that wouldn’t be objected to but that also was not deep in the pockets of another House and a luckily she had a way to meet this need and weaken House Gwydion at the same time.  Squire Denys, a Troll Grump that she knew was of the oathbroken House Liam, could elevate to Knighthood if he stood as Seneschal over this Freehold. His status as squire to a Gwydion Knight was what kept him in service and in him there was not only a Noble, that the Commoners would accept, but one whose time was short as grumps were well on their way into the clutches of banality.  

Baron Gottfried saw the weakening refusal to grant him the Freehold as an attempt to weaken House Gwydion and, in fit of pique, saddled Squire Denys with one of the greatest oddities of his Barony – Niklaus von Eatenbachen.  How could this odd Seelie redcap, with little in the way of fighting skills, be anything but a burden to Squire Denys – at least it would be driven out of the Court and that damnable three piece suit would no longer intrude on the protocol of Court.  Niklaus was accompanied by a Childling Sluagh, Maggie Pie, though for what purpose is known only to those secret mongering Sluagh. A precocious and cute child, though silent as the Sluagh are, her place in pageants was second only to her unsettling stare when she wriggled her way into your lap.  A boggan just showed up, chubby and pleasant, but possessing a fierce spirit and set about cleaning the Freehold. Paul was just there and frankly welcomed by Denys. Finally, an errant Satyr …. Swearing an Oath to each other and the Freehold, this seemingly disparate group of Kithain set about keeping the peace and protecting a new reservoir of fae power.

All seemed to be proceeding apace and perhaps in the long term, the commoners would find this Freehold permanently held … but then the High King was kidnapped.  Pulled from the Kingdom of Willows and Caliburn abandoning its owner to the hands of an Eshu. What now for this Oathcircle, precariously balanced between a jealous Gwydion Baron on one side, malcontent motleys fomented by the Shadow Court on the other, and the drum beat of an impending war of fae succession?

 

Squire Denys
Seelie Grump Troll Squire of House Liam
09/18/18

Denys still doesn’t see himself as a leader.  Sure, in high school he was the center of the football team, with the Gwydion Knight, the Quarterback, behind him.  He knew how to rally protection and knew how to follow orders. He never saw himself as a leader. Unlike his charge, he advanced to Grump, always shouldering more responsibility and duty than others realized on his broad shoulders.  A painter in his heart whose clear eyes saw the slow slide of Concordia towards war Denys is now in a position he never expected – the forefront of the political jousting between Sidhe houses and even the Shadow Court. Thankfully, an unlikely Oathcircle of commoners, formed as part of the compact agreed upon while the Freehold’s proper place in the Kingdom of Concordia, caretaking the Freehold are fending off these challenges for now.

 

Niklaus von Eatenbachen
Seelie Wilder Redcap Courtier
09/25/18

Indeed it is strange, and perhaps most uncommon, to pass witness to a Seelie Redcap.  Stranger still is one who feels more at home in the Court than in the alleyways. Niklaus von Eatenbachen exemplifies a nightmare few ever admit to having – that even a monster can sit at the table with dignity; that even the contours of etiquette don’t hold the creatures at bay.  Niklaus takes his place in stride, knowing how hard it is for a Redcap to be taken seriously as a courtier, but he has been the greatest asset to Denys by using shrewd political knowledge and an astounding mastery of Courtly etiquette to keep the Troll aware. His dear friend, Maggie Pie, is really a price he pays for secrets he bought but who would ever ask why a Sluagh would be palling around with a Redcap ….  

Margaret “Maggie Pie”
Unseelie Childling Sluagh Problemchild

10/02/18

A Sluagh High Tea is a sight to behold, but the price for what information came at the sideboard before the tea was poured may not have been what was expected.  Margaret was the price Niklaus paid. Margaret seems listless, despite her Catharsis. She sees the chimerical realm, but something doesn’t move her like the other Sluagh expect.  She lacks any real urgency or concern, save when she enters the beauty pageants to hear the backstage gossip. Her nickname came about as she seemed to have a dour or at least doomed observation whenever queried. It is certainly a tale of sound and fury … so the Sluagh decided to have her better trained.  A Sluagh is no good if she cannot navigate High Tea and to seek out the secrets that hold the truth, so who better to teach this lesson than a remarkably mannered Recap?

 

Paul Scheno
Seelie Wilder Boggan Questor
10/09/18

Inspiration strikes in the strangest of places at times.  Whoever expected a kid from the city to find old VCR tapes of 1970s Kung Fu Action Theatre flicks? Even more, whoever expected that kid to really be a Boggan changeling?  It is strange enough for people to see a Boggan leaping around with a grace that defies a Boggan’s rubenesque physique, but even more so when Paul takes the chance to be the first into the fight. Paul’s inspiration is hard to share as VFX has taken over for actual physical stunts … but Paul keeps fighting to inspire people and to protect people as long as he can.

Alexandra Phaedra
Unseelie Wilder Satyr Sage

10/16/18

Passions drive all of us, and the fae doubly so. Alexandra exemplifies the embrace of passions that the Satyr Kith are known for.  Alex has excelled at athletics, track and field, for so long that it is second nature to her. The exceptional physicality of the Satyr’s shows up in her movements and in her joy.  Alex has dove deep into the world’s passions and come out, while protecting her Oathcircle, with a deep hunger to pull and wrest every ounce of life and Glamour that she can. She is a challenge at times to the Oathcircle, but has been a forceful, if strident, voice to protect the Freehold and a Radicalist in her philosophy of equal fae rights.  She fights this fight after seeing what already exists fail both her parents … one a Fae who became Undone and another who fell to a fate even worse. 

 

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Welcome back to Card Catalog’s look at Starfinder.  As previously mentioned, the resulting characters are getting advanced all the way to Seventh Level and if you have not checked out the overview for this series the link is right here! Also, a reminder that I ignored the suggested wealth table to have more fun with the characters.  After the original five characters for the Troublemaker were in my head, I flipped towards the back of the book where Starfinder addressed legacy character options and the picture on page 506 made me want to make a dwarf in powered armor. You are therefore getting a dwarf in powered armor!

 

Design Notes

I’ve previously mentioned my fondness for dwarves, and I hadn’t planned to make a dwarf for this crew, but as I looked deeper, I realized that the crew needed some more heavy duty tanking and fire support and saw the picture of a dwarf in powered armor with what seemed to me like a grenade launched.  This meant I would revisit the Soldier class and demonstrate how it can be used differently, but also I would make use of the Mercenary Theme that makes an almost archetypal combination for a Soldier. Starfinder provides quick start Ability Score options where instead of rolling for your Ability Scores, you can start with a preset list of rolls to assign as you wish.  If you recall from the overview, no Ability Score can start over 18, but we will get well past them later. With a spread of 14, 14, 14, 11,10, and 10, I am starting her with STR 11, DEX 14, CON 14, INT 10, WIS 10, and CHA 14. Stoli Kilaim is a Dwarven Mercenary Soldier, so we will start by unpacking those choices.

Species – Dwarf.  If you are familiar with fantasy dwarves in general, and Pathfinder dwarves in particular, you will likely recognize the dwarven advantages and disadvantages.  First, Ability scores are modified with +2 CON, +2 WIS, and -2 CHA. They may be short and have a limited movement of 20’, but they never lose movement from being encumbered or wearing armor.  They can see in the dark, are resilient in resisting poisons and spells, and have the traditional enemies of goblins, orcs, and giants. These are all reflected on the character sheet below. Culturally, they acknowledge coming from the lost planet of Golarion, but are mostly accepting of this seeing space as the result of the Quest for the Sky being fulfilled.

Theme – Mercenary. Mercenaries always exist when there is a need for combat and conflict.  Mercenaries sell their services often having had some form of military service before entering the private market.  This provides a bonus on culture checks or Profession (Mercenary) checks to recognize military tactics, personnel, or similar knowledge.  Athletics becomes a class skill, or receives a bonus, and the theme provides a +1 STR.

Class – Soldier. If you recall when we talked about Besu before, the Soldier has the choice from 7 different Primary Fighting Styles to help provide flexibility in the concepts.  Because, no matter how much the Core Rule Book may not have the best options, I want a power armored dwarf, Stoli is choosing Armor Storm as his Primary Fighting Style. The Hammer Fist ability means that Stoli, when wearing Heavy or Powered Armor, strikes with the equivalent of a powered gauntlet called a Battlefist AND adds one and a half times his STR bonus to damage.  

For his starting Feat, Stoli is going to have Blind-Fight.  Having been on more than one bug hunt before, and dealt with enough things that specialize in concealment, he can not only better target them but also withdraw or break away from enemies he can’t always see.  

Unsurprisingly, the Soldier does not come with many skills. The 4 + INT bonus number of skills means that Stoli will not have the most flexibility there.  He starts with Athletics, Culture, Profession (Miner), and Survival. I decided to go with Profession (Miner) rather than (Mercenary) to give him a little bit of a different background to flesh out.

Soldiers Weapon Proficiency list amounts to all weapons and all armor with the best BAB and Strong Fortitude and Will saving throws. To round out the beginning character, we look to the Hit Points from Species and Class (13) and the Stamina Points from Class plus CON (7+3). Finally, Resolve Points start as half your level, rounded up plus your class chief ability score modifier, DEX for Stoli means he will have a lower number of Resolve (3). Stoli is going to be Lawful Good as well as Hiroko, but for different reasons.  Stoli’s background definitely instills the respect for order and for structures that is reinforced by his lawful alignment choice. His goodness comes from his belief that there is a place for everyone under this “Sky” this is the Pact World. He may be a Soldier, but he isn’t without humanity.

Advancement

Check the link below for the full character sheet, but we will look at the highlights of the character advancement here.  

First, on the Ability Score increases, as a Soldier and a Tank, STR, DEX, and CON all get bonuses especially because CON is at the cusp of the +2 bonuses.  Finally, CHA gets a bump as I want a well liked and jovial dwarf who gets others deep in their cups with him. To enahnce the tanking, I went for a Mark I personal upgrade to Stoli’s CON – Angradd’s Blessing. A mystic ore is mined deep in the Asteroid belts before infused with magical energy by Dwarven mystics.  When it is grafted to dwarven bones, those bones take on the strength and durability of the stone itself. This gets Stoli to a CON of 20 and keeps him a tough character to take a few extra hits.

Athletics is the only skill I keep all the way at maximum partially to help offset the Armor Check Penalty he has for wearing the heavy armor.  I shave a few ranks from the other skills to add Sense Motive at one rank and Perception at 2 ranks. His Mercenary theme also means that his STR is treated as one higher to determine his encumbrance.   

I only added a Respiration Compounder for Augmentations.  A cybernetic enhancement extending an Oxygen supply and providing a bonus to hold his breath and against airborne poisons seemed like something Stoli would do.  In the Magical gear department, Stoli now has an Efficient Bandolier which blends tech and magic to allow him to carry ammunition and batteries for weapons with no additional bulk to his encumbrance.  Extra grenades are always a good thing for someone like Stoli.

Soldiers come stacked, though with abilities and bonus feats.  We have three Feas, three Bonus Feats, two Gear Boosts, and a Fighting Style ability that have shown up! Perhaps surprisingly, I took Mobility to begin to allow Stoli to act as mobile fire support while also adding Enhanced Resistance and by the time he gets his last Feat – Adaptive Fighting to give him the flexibility to use something else.  His Mobility is enhanced by the Soldier Class Combat Feats of Shot on the Run and Nimble Moves. Take a look at the Starfinder CRB for full details of how these all work together. His Armor Storm Class Ability, though, is the fantastic one. He gets a suit of Powered Armor, and Powered Armor Proficiency! Yes!! This is a suit with an extra enhancement slot as well that fits an enhancement at half price.  It should come as no surprise that Stoli has an articulated grenade launcher mounted on his armor with an autoloader and Deflective Reinforcement to provide DR 5/-. He does keep a Estex III LIght armor on underneath because you can do that in a powered armor, and it has a Radiation Buffer and Thermal Capacitor to give him some extra protection without adding to his armor class.

One aspect of the Soldier Class I also like is the Gear Boost abilities where the soldiers are able to make better use of certain types of gear further allowing for variation in what has evolved from the most basic of classes.  It is another obvious choice, but Armored Advantage Gear Boost adds a +1 to KAC and the Powerful Explosives Boost increases the explosive radius of many of his grenades from 10; to 15’.

As with other d20 based systems, the Base Attack Bonus and Saving throws also increased.  Check out the character sheet linked below for the full write up. Yes, he does have a Tactical Hammer if you get a little too close for comfort.  

 

Character Notes

Stoli Kilaim was born to the open expanse of the “Sky” that is space and at the same times the depth and comfort of a deep cavern aboard a Citadel ship belonging to Ulrikka Clanholdings.  His clan firmly believed that he Quest for the Sky was successful and Torag left to protect Golarion once his people, the dwarves, were safely away. With the Gap’s lack of records nobody could tell them otherwise.  The Kilaims had entered a contract with Ulrikka Clanholdings so that they were guaranteed employment if requested but that they had to provide a certain amount of services every century to keep that contract renewed.  So far, the family had kept its end of the bargain and so far UC had more than enough work for the Kilaims.

Stoli had little in the way of ambitions, though.  Despite a long a storied history of the Kilaim’s heroics and exceptional forerunners, Stoli wanted little more than to spend time with friends and earn a fair wage.  He became a miner, one of the miners who would actually pilot the powered loaders into the asteroids and do the work alongside the drones. There was still a need for that no matter what all those Mechanics claimed.  It was here, twenty six years back, that Stoli’s direction changed.

Pirates and raiding have always been a danger, but the Swarm were something new and something that the Pact Worlds were not ready to face.  While the Silent War ended as the Veskarium joined the Pact Worlds in resistance, Stoli was front and center to see the Swarm attack his mine.  The “Cavers”, dwarven special forces from Ulrikka Clanholdings fought them back and held them off. Stoli had direction. While he may never be as agile or precise, he knew he could serve his fellow dwarves by enrolling with the Ulrikka Clanholdings private security and military wing.    

Stoli found that he enjoyed wearing the heavy armor and using his knowledge of mining explosives in more militant action.  He had the gusto and bravado that seems to come with a great many dwarves. He even made his grandparents proud. He still had his friends and they still would get deep in their cups, but it was between serving some greater good … or that’s what he told himself.    

Stoli and the rest of his unit were having trouble fighting off the uptick in pirate attacks, so Ulrikka brought in some freelancers on a ship called The Troublemaker.  And make trouble they did. While they helped save Stoli and a handful of remaining dwarves when they arrived, eventually Stoli had to come rushing in to save them months later.  These deep policing actions further into the Diaspora were showing Stoli that Ulrikka didn’t treat every employee, or even every dwarf, as well as they treated the Kilaims. If he wasn’t doing much for the greater good of the dwarves and the other Ulrikka workers, what was he doing with Ulrikka?  He had nephews and nieces old enough to take up the indentured contract. He can look for a loophole out, or a favor to call in, so his family can leave.

He left with these Troublemakers, besides they needed some more levity.  Valaeyo was a serious type of Lashunta, and Hiroko was always thinking far too much.  Chitter … well, it’s always fun to poke at a pilot on board their ship. The Elven conspiracy to wipe out thousands on Castrovel and feed the Bone Sage’s personal army was just more proof that the Quest for the Sky was being subverted and harmed.  Stoli is still looking for a way to free his family, and take them far away from the Disapora. He is still looking for a way to see what true freedom is, but for now will drain his cups with Clausweld and Besu and look to the sky, in moe ways than one.

 

Stoli Mercenary Dwarven Soldier

Starfinder & Troublemaker Beta Crew Overview

 

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Sheet by http://paizo.com/people/Gilfalas