Tag Archives: roleplay

Deadlands Fate – Session 4

Deadlands Fate

See the Deadlands Fate Collection HERE.

This session was recorded and you can listen to the podcast at theRPGAcademy.com.

Episode 5 – Bad Day at the Watering Hole

What Happened?

This session picked up where the previous one left off, with our heroes emerging from the desert, exhausted and injured. In the distance they saw a ranch house and they headed there in hopes of finding some peace. As they neared, they saw 3 teenage boys at a watering hole between them and the ranch house. As the thirsty PC’s approached, the boys were suddenly attacked by tentacles bursting from the ground, trying to drag them towards the toothy maw that had just opened. The Desert Thing (basically a small Sarlacc Pit…) proceeded to eat one boy, and injure another, but the two survivors were saved by the PC’s. Notably, I compelled Martin’s “Quick to run” aspect to make him avoid the fight.

This was a fairly simple fight against a pretty hefty beasty. It was hard to kill, due to it’s stunt allowing it to defend with Physique (due to its massive bulk). I actually think this fight was a good illustration of aspects due to the recurring use of the Desert Thing inflicting a “Grabbed” status.

After the fight the PC’s found out that the uninjured boy, Eric, lived at the nearby ranch house, and the injured boy, Steve, lived in the nearby town. Eric was running away, but now his friend was badly injured, and they needed to take him back to the house to be cared for by Eric’s older sister, Lizzie. After learning that Lizzie was a good looking woman in her late 20’s, Sebastian perked up dramatically. They escorted the boys back to the house, and proceeded to have a very tense meeting with Eric’s family. First they met his older brothers, Samuel, the smart one, and Jared, the big mean one. It was clear early on that Jared didn’t want them there, and Samuel was to handled cautiously. Then they met Lizzie, a very polite, clever, capable, and not to mention sexy, country woman, and Sebastian was all over that action. We had to cut this interaction short due to time, and picked it up right there at our next session.

My favorite part of this was that right from the minute they spotted the ranch house, Scott (playing Martin) was  like, “guys, I’m telling you, this house is bad news!” He did an excellent job playing Martin without this suspicion (as if he wasn’t a character in a horror story), but underlying tension added a lot of fun, and continued into the next session.


The Desert Thing

Here is the Fate conversion I did of the Desert Thing from the Savage Worlds system, presented in the Deadlands Reloaded Marshals Handbook.

Desert Thing

Surprising tentacles from the sand”  “Aware of all nearby creatures”  “Very slow moving

Physique +4
Notice +3
Fight +3

Massive Bulk – Defend against physical attacks with Physique
Grabbing Tentacles – Gain a +2 to Create Advantage “Grabbed” with Fight. Attack one zone away.

Stress: 4 




The Boys RP for the first time in 13th Age!

I finally got to continue my game with the neighbor boys. As a refresher, I’m running them through the Blood & Lightning sample adventure from the back of the 13th Age book. Our last session was spent getting the game started, and the first fight with the goblins, who they discovered were quite ominously in the service of the Lich King. This was especially significant for the Half-Elf Fighter, who has earned the Lich King as a special enemy in his back story.

This session the group reached Boltstrike Pillar, and got introduced to the residents. In this version, Boltstrike is an outpost of the Elf Queen. I prepared some image handouts for the two major NPC’s at Bolt Strike, and had a 3×5 card for myself for each of them with attitudes, motivations, appearance, and mannerisms. The kids really respond well to anything physical I can give them, so finding character portraits for NPC’s will definitely be a priority.
Quellis, the High Wizard at Boltstrike Pillar
Zanj, Quellis’ right hand man, commander of the non-wizard staff
This session didn’t move forward nearly as much as I expected because the boys started roleplaying the hell out of this place! I was shocked. One of the boys got hung up on studying a secret tome that he was bringing with him, and keeping it secret from the other PC’s (but not from the other players). Well this naturally led to one of the other PC’s getting suspicious of what the Dark Elf is doing while  he keeps sneaking off from the group. It turned into some good-natured cat & mouse RP, and was a hoot for all at the table. They also took a lot more joy in exploring the outpost and chatting with the staff.
The two spellcasters got oddly fixated on asking about whether the place had a library they could study. No real purpose, but they were definitely trying to play to their characters’ motivations as they imagined them. I was kinda surprised by it, honestly, but it brought back memories of myself doing the same thing when I was a kid playing wizards.
Oh, and their dad got to join us this time! He spent his time spreading the good word of the goddess Anoia to the residents of Boltstrike Pillar. It was fun having the whole family (not mine, but hey, still cool!) playing together. We’re having a rough time getting together, especially since I’m knee deep training for my fight, so I’m not sure when we’ll play next.
Nothing really peculiar to 13th Age came into play this session, other than the odd background roll for skill checks (which I freaking love, BTW!). But it was really the boys first experience with the non-combat side of an RPG, and I consider it a total victory!

Intelligence-based Challenges – A Response to Dungeon Talk #20

This weekend I was listening to Dungeon Talk #20, one of the awesome podcast segments put out by DnD Academy. There was a good discussion around a listener email asking about how to best handle the topic of handling intelligence-based challenges with players, specifically puzzles. The discussion centered around the classic question of “how can someone roleplay a character smarter than themselves?” which is a very legitimate question. Roleplaying is all about being larger-than-life heroes. I can legitimately fight with a sword and throw a punch, but I’m no professional warrior. And I fancy myself a pretty smart dude, but I guarantee I’m no Master of the Arcane toting around an 18 Intelligence. We play heroes that we wish we could be. I am personally a fan of playing very clever and intelligent characters, but I am only so smart. So how do we handle challenges in-game that require the players to be quite smart, and how do you shine the spotlight on the appropriate character, even if that particular player isn’t capable of solving the puzzle on their own?

Here’s my thought based on how I’ve seen this handled in a past game. Note that this is taking the approach of a challenge that is meant to challenge the players not the characters.In the particular example, this DM was using a challenge the drew on some piece of music theory that he was confident one of the players would know. I can’t remember if that same player was playing the bard, but for the sake of this argument, let’s say someone else was playing the bard. So we have a puzzle requiring knowledge XYZ, and one player has the capability to answer to XYZ, but a different character  is the one that would make the most narrative sense to know the answer.

  • Present the puzzle/challenge to the group.
  • Allow the group to talk through it, work it out and figure out the solution out of character, as a group. Let them put their heads together and even maybe allow searching the web for ideas. Let them be as communally intelligent as they can.
  • At this point have all of the appropriate characters make their knowledge/skill rolls, ability checks, or simply nominate the character most likely to have that solution from a narrative standpoint. In the case of rolling, the highest roll gets the spotlight. That character steps forward and gets to activate the solution that the group came up with.

Since the challenge was intended to challenge the players instead of the character, I’d say that the roll is really irrelevant here, but if you want to use the roll, if none of the rolls succeed, the “fail forward” approach makes a lot of sense here. They manage to open the special door, but spring a trap, the path behind them caves in, or it took too long, and they get attacked while the spotlight character is inputting the solution. But because the group came up with the right answer, they solve the puzzle, since the point was for everyone to have fun solving a puzzle together. This approach allows you to challenge the group in a way that personally engages everyone, but still give the narrative spotlight to the right character.

Do you have any further thoughts on this idea? Join the discussion on their forums.